- The Washington Times - Monday, March 10, 2003

Pentagon planners have begun discussing how to reform and restructure Iraq's huge military once Saddam Hussein is ousted.
Bush administration officials have talked openly in recent weeks on plans to rule a postwar Iraq, purge it of Saddam's hard-line Ba'ath Party apparatchiks and then methodically turn over the country to democratic-minded Iraqis.
But there has been little public discussion of another major project: creating a new Iraqi armed forces that heeds civilian rule, respects human rights and does not own nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.
Officials said that only recently did government planners begin serious debate of how such reforms should occur.
"I'm pretty confident we will have to do away with the Republican Guard," said a retired Army general who commanded troops in Desert Storm. "Some of those officers probably cannot be rehabilitated. But not all of them are fanatical Nazis."
Saddam today commands a military of about 350,000 troops, about one-third its size during the 1991 Gulf war. After the war, Saddam consolidated army divisions, tried to modernize the Republican Guard and created a new security force, the Special Republican Guard.
His air force of 30,000 personnel is virtually a non-factor, and his small navy is made up primarily of patrol boats.
Analysts say a new Iraqi government will be allowed to maintain an army robust enough to deter longtime rival Iran, but not potent enough to threaten U.S. allies Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
The job of "Americanizing" an Iraqi army likely will fall to private companies and the U.S. military, whose Army Green Berets (Special Forces) specialize in military-to-military contacts and training.
One soldier said the Special Forces teams may need to be a presence in Iraq for 10 years.
Retired Maj. Gen. William Moore, who was the Army's director of operations at the Pentagon, said he believes the first step should be the "Appomattox model" of "lay down your arms and go home."
"For the majority of the force that were simple soldiers or simple officers for which there is no known reason for incarcerations, I would think we tell them to go home and take care of your families. Leave your equipment and go home," Gen. Moore said. "There's many in the Iraq military who don't want to be there and would welcome the opportunity to leave with their lives."
For high-ranking officers, the U.S. military would have to scrutinize each one for war crimes.
Saddam has killed thousands of Kurds in the north and Shi'ites in the south with chemical weapons. Those responsible could face war-crimes trials, as would any officer who ordered the use of weapons of mass destruction against coalition troops in any upcoming war.
"The command structure will be completely dismantled," Gen. Moore said. "I doubt there would be much left we would have any trust and confidence in. From the ground up is probably the way to proceed."
While Washington's aim is to create a diverse, multiethnic government, it is doubtful the Kurdish north ever would let the Iraqi military re-enter their region.
The Iraqi army today has 23 divisions, about one-third the number in 1991 when allied aircraft and ground units destroyed hundreds of tanks and killed thousands of soldiers.
The Republican Guard makes up six of those divisions. There are only sketchy estimates on the size of the Special Republican Guard that rings Saddam's headquarters and defends Baghdad. Washington's hope is that most or all the 17 regular army divisions will not resist an allied invasion, or may participate in attacks on the more loyal Republican Guards.
U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Persian Gulf region, has a contingency plan for transforming the Iraqi military.
Officials said that plan may provide the basis for a blueprint adopted by a new Pentagon Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance directed by retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay Garner.
The leading candidate to administer the early stages of a postwar Iraq is Army Lt. Gen. John Abizaid, an Arabic speaker and one of Central Command's two deputy commanders.

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