Sectarian and territorial foundations laid by USA

 Former Iraqi Army Chief Recounts Flawed Formation and Challenges

BAGHDAD, 6 January — Former Iraqi Army Chief of Staff, Othman Al-Ghanimi, shared insights into the reformation of the Iraqi army post-2003, highlighting its establishment on sectarian, territorial, and partisan lines. He recounted how many of those who joined the army were affiliated with political parties or were prisoners released under Saddam Hussein’s amnesty prior to the war. Al-Ghanimi specifically addressed the complete collapse of the army during the ISIS invasion in 2014.

Al-Ghanimi said, “The 2003 decision to dissolve the Iraqi army was 100% wrong. Unfortunately, the Americans and coalition forces formed the army based on sectarian, territorial, and ethnic grounds. This led to the inclusion of various parties and Saddam’s pardoned prisoners.”

“The initial formation faced significant apprehension from former army officers, leading to their refusal to rejoin. We later attempted a scientifically-based reformation but lacked decision-making power. The multinational forces, led by Poland, approached me to rejoin the army, which I initially refused due to its deteriorated state.”

“In 2005 and 2006, we managed to integrate young, conscious elements aspiring to serve the country, forming a nucleus in 5 provinces. However, recruitment was limited to residents of the same province, a policy we disagreed with but had no power to change.”

“We formed a brigade in each province and then the 8th Division ‘National Guard’ in Diwaniyah, responsible for central Euphrates provinces. We managed to attract officers from the former Iraqi army and formed service branches with a complete headquarters in Diwaniyah.”

“The term ‘National Guard’ initially mirrored American conventions, later changed. We then initiated the formation of Operation Commands, which, though unconstitutional, were deemed necessary at the time. I believe most provinces no longer require them.”

“As Chief of Staff, I informed Prime Minister Al-Kadhimi of the need to dissolve many commands. For instance, Dhi Qar doesn’t need an operations command.”

“When Iraq fell to ISIS in 2014, I was the Central Euphrates Operations Commander, later reassigned as the Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Administration. The army was 100% collapsed, except for three divisions near Baghdad with low morale, mainly due to the territorial basis of its formation.”

“During ISIS battles, if we tried to move a battalion to the frontline, soldiers would protest, abandon their weapons, and leave, all due to the army’s flawed foundation by the Americans. From 2003 to 2014, the army lacked a doctrine; it was merely the leaders’ improvisation.”