Tuesday, June 01, 2004
Mistake 6 – Disbanding the Army
The huge Iraqi army of more than 300 000 men simply vanished.
Shortly after the invasion was complete, it was formally disbanded.
That was a mistake! It was admitted to be so more than once by senior US officials.
It was also a mistake to look at those people as cowards. Many were battle-hardened professional soldiers who did not fear facing death. Another mistake was to regard them as villains – as Saddam’s army of oppression. The villains who controlled the army for the regime were a small minority. Many of those others were professional patriotic soldiers…not really very different from other soldiers in other armies all over the world.
It was also a terrible mistake to humiliate officers (some of them senior) by having them stand in long lines under the summer sun and overlooked by US soldiers who shoved and insulted them to receive a pittance of an allowance! It was a humiliation many felt bitter about.
When, through shear incompetence and mismanagement on the part of the occupying authorities, the US army and administration began to be seen as an “enemy” by many ordinary people, (and particularly after Saddam was caught) a lethal combination began to brew!
• Hundreds of thousands of men who were well-trained in the arts of combat, many of them "patriotic", some of them fearless were abandoned, bitter and jobless, while the country was seen by many of them as occupied by an army bent on destroying it.
• Huge stockpiles of arms and ammunitions in depots all over the country. Those people knew where to find them!
• A sympathetic population who resented the way Americans were handling (to many, destroying) their country in the name of liberation and democracy.
It doesn’t take much foresight to see where that would lead, would it?