- The Washington Times - Monday, June 23, 2003

RAMADI, Iraq — U.S.-led civil administrators announced the creation of a new Iraqi army yesterday, hoping to contain anger among soldiers jobless since Saddam Hussein’s military was disbanded and to curb a rash of anti-U.S. attacks.

The insurgents’ latest attacks include rocket-propelled grenades fired at U.S. Army patrols in the western towns of Khaldiyah and Habaniyah, and an ambush in Ramadi that involved a 12-year-old girl, the military said yesterday. No one was injured.

In Baghdad, visiting U.S. senators cautioned that Americans should expect their forces to remain in Iraq for as long as five years.

“I don’t think the American people fully appreciate just how long we are going to be committed here and what the overall cost will be,” said Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, after meeting the head of the civil administration, L. Paul Bremer.

Iraq on Sunday made its first foray back into the international oil market since the war with the shipment of crude that had been stored for months at the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

But sabotage and looting of the 600-mile pipeline from the northern Iraqi town of Kirkuk to Ceyhan delayed the flow of freshly pumped oil — the key to reconstructing an economy devastated by sanctions and war. Pumping was supposed to have begun Sunday.

Sabotage was blamed for a massive fire in a gas pipeline about 94 miles west of Baghdad on Saturday, and the Al Jazeera television network reported another pipeline explosion near the Syrian border on Sunday.

In another key step toward reconstruction, U.S. officials announced early plans to bring back Iraq’s army, once one of the Arab world’s largest and most experienced.

Recruitment for the new force is to begin next week. An initial division of 12,000 men will be ready within a year and will grow to 40,000 within three years, said Walter Slocombe, a senior adviser for security and defense for the administration.

That would still be a fraction of Saddam’s military force of 400,000.

Mr. Slocombe also promised support payments of $50 to $150 per month to up to 250,000 ex-soldiers.

The move is aimed at stemming anger among former Iraqi soldiers who lost their livelihood when the U.S.-led administration disbanded the army May 23. Ex-servicemen have since staged several protests, and U.S. troops killed two persons Wednesday when a demonstration turned violent.

“I am pleased to announce this first step in creating an armed force that will be professional, nonpolitical, militarily effective and truly representative of the country,” Mr. Slocombe said.

No payments would be made to the top four ranks of members of the now-banned Ba’ath Party. Anyone receiving funds must renounce Ba’athism, the political ideology that guided Iraq for more than three decades, even before Saddam came to power in the 1970s.

In Ramadi, a U.S. patrol came under small-arms fire Sunday and the patrol saw a young girl running away with an AK-47 assault rifle, said Capt. Burris Wollsieffer of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. The bullets landed harmlessly in the dirt around the vehicles, he said yesterday.

The troops followed the girl home and found the rifle wrapped in a red dress propped in a corner. Three men in the household were taken for interrogation, but the troops allowed the girl to remain at home when they learned her age. They also seized $1,500 in cash and $1,000 in Iraqi dinars, the officer said.

“It’s just weird. It’s totally unconventional,” said Capt. Wollsieffer, when asked about the rising number of ambushes on his forces in Ramadi. “It’s guerrilla warfare.”

Two senior army officers met yesterday with a prominent Islamic cleric, Abdullah al-Annay, who preaches in two Ramadi mosques, to ask him to tone down his anti-American sermons, Capt. Wollsieffer said.

“If he keeps this kind of speech going, they are just going to attack us more and more,” he said. Capt. Wollsieffer’s regiment has lost 10 men — more than half the 19 men reported killed in combat — since May 1, when major fighting was declared over.

The latest casualty came Sunday, when a grenade exploded in a military vehicle south of Baghdad, killing one soldier and wounding another from the 1st Armored Division.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide