Few issues will be more important to a post-Saddam transition than military reform. How can the world's fourth-largest military be demobilized without causing widespread unemployment and social unrest in Iraq? The vast military-industrial complex that supports this military must also be dismantled in a way that will prevent the proliferation of technologies integral to the development of weapons of mass destruction. How can the Iraqi military become a bulwark of democracy? This event continues AEI's "Whither Iraq?" conference series.
|Brigadier General Tawfik al-Yassiri, Iraqi National Coalition|
|Brigadier General Muhammad Baraa Najib al Rubaie|
|General Fawzi al Shammari, Iraqi officers movement|
|General Najeeb Salhi, Free Officers Movement|
|Moderator:||Michael Eisenstadt, Washington Institute for Near East Policy|
Demobilizing, Reforming, and Rebuilding the Iraqi Armed Forces & Dismantling and Transforming Iraq's Military Industries
Few issues will be of greater importance to a post-Saddam Hussein regime than successful military reform. Over the last three decades, Iraq's military--at one time the fourth largest in the world--has had a significant role in the deconstruction of Iraqi society and the rise of the Ba'ath party. Future democratic political stability will depend on the reconstruction of military culture, a difficult process. On November 15, 2002, AEI assembled five former Iraqi military officers who, since their defection, have been vocal supporters of regime change and planning for demobilization.
Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Reorganizing the Iraqi military will require careful planning, but it is first necessary to provide the correct political context. Political, economic, and military reform in Iraq are interconnected--a new democratic government will have to reform the military in order to ensure its own survival, and the military must support the government in order to provide the stability that will attract investment and revitalize the economy. A broad-based democratic government organized along federal lines should be reflected in an officer corps that is representative of all sectors of the population; this will reduce the temptation to use military force as a means of internal repression. Military reform will also discourage the escalation of regional tensions.
The first step in a successful demobilization is de-Saddamizing the army and security forces, which requires that most security and intelligence forces be scrapped and that the army be purged and professionalized. The majority of the security forces should either be tried for war crimes or demobilized, but this will have to be carefully executed in order to prevent security and political problems, since many security personnel possess skill sets ideal for political subversion and organized crime. Many of them also come from the same Sunni tribe as Saddam. This ethnic group must be handled diplomatically to prevent complete isolation from the new Iraqi state.
Building a culture of professionalism in the army requires the establishment of a new military leadership subservient to the political leadership. Saddam's policy of alienating military officers from politics may aid this process. A balanced, representative officer corps and the normalization of corps structure and hierarchy (in the absence of praetorian security services) will promote the new military ideals required by a democratic Iraq.
The second step is ensuring that Iraq has defensive sufficiency without having offensive capability. This step can be accomplished by reducing the force level, expanding the Republican Guard, shifting personnel from Saddam's "special army" (comprised mostly of intelligence and security forces as well as the Republican Guard) to the regular one, and using defensive technologies to reduce Iraq's threat capacity. The result will be a smaller, more capable army that is reoriented away from internal security. This will also provide more labor for the civilian economy.
The final step is ensuring that Iraq will not be able to acquire, research, or produce weapons of mass destruction. It is essential that gainful employment be found for the scientists currently working in this sector, and that they have good relations with the new government.
The Ba'ath party has drained Iraqi resources and subjugated the army's interests in order to create a large internal security force designed to protect Saddam's regime from internal and external threats. This policy serves no purpose except the demoralization, suppression, and fragmentation of the general populace. Post-Saddam, there are two possible approaches: eliminating the special army in its entirety and trying them for war crimes, or finding a way for the majority of these people to continue to serve Iraq in a primarily nonmilitary capacity. Any member of the military that does not fight to keep Saddam in power should be retrained and given work in other sectors that allow them to use their technical knowledge and expertise for the benefit of the Iraqi economy.
Before Saddam's regime is overthrown, the army should be assured that it will be treated with integrity. This will enhance security during the transitional period, when there will likely be external threats to be addressed. A committee should be established to outline a framework for demobilization, to create a new vision for Iraqi security, and to ensure that human rights are protected. During the transitional period, it is likely that some will seek revenge for political, social, and religious reasons, but this can be avoided by finding a political symbol that is acceptable to all parties and ethnic groups, by promoting moderate Islamic movements, and by reforming Iraq into an open, democratic society resistant to factionalization.
Brigadier General Najib al-Salhi
Many people have tried to assassinate Saddam or remove him from power, but all have failed. Regime change will be possible only with the support of the United States. The Iraqi army has not historically fought wars with its neighbors. Recent aggressive trends are a reflection of Saddam Hussein and his policies, just as his dictatorial regime has directed the army to internal wars and security operations. Post-Saddam, the military will be exemplary of the new regime and will be more likely to use diplomacy to resolve regional disputes. It is important, however, to avoid a power vacuum. Iraq is a very wealthy state, and will need a defensive force to protect its interests.
Security forces must be controlled by the state and not allowed autonomy. The special army must be eliminated, but some of its members can be integrated into the regular army. The army must be more representative of the ethnic elements within Iraq, and rank should be based on professionalism, not on social class. There should also be far greater transparency in the defense budget.
Brigadier General Tawfik al-Yassiri
Since 1979, the Iraqi army has served the purpose of the regime, not Iraq's national interests. Post-Saddam, the government must reestablish the historical role of the army by reconstituting the relationship between the regime and the military through the Ministry of Defense and by removing the dictatorial mindset that has degraded the military. Units must be retrained to emphasize their separation from civilian authorities. They must be reeducated to understand that no man can act above the law, and that revenge tactics are not acceptable. Superfluous units and excess personnel should be demobilized to help transform and rebuild Iraq.
Building a culture of professionalism and integrity absent factionalism is essential for the new military leadership. Prosecuting former officers for war crimes against the Kurds and the Shia will help establish the desired ideals, as will promoting a larger role for women in the Iraqi military and military education. Military personnel should be allowed to participate in politics only if they first leave all military institutions; the army should defend the nation and combat terrorism, not engage in political confrontations.
Brigadier General Muhammad Baraa al-Rubaie
The army should not be a security force or have police power, but instead protect Iraq's national interests. The new Iraqi military must have regional leadership as well as a central command. It must increase its technological capabilities by building and training, with foreign assistance, new mechanized regiments. When excess personnel are demobilized, the removal of their weapons must be carefully managed in order to ensure internal security.
General Fawzi al-Shammari
Strategic, political, and military considerations are all integral to constructing a new vision for the Iraqi military. The new democratic government will define the nation's political objectives and the role of the army within this new framework. It is essential that internal and external security concerns be delineated. The army must establish a functional, objective hierarchy, and the military leadership should have institutionalized access to members of the political leadership to be sure that defensive challenges can be met.
Saddam Hussein will probably not use weapons of mass destruction himself, but he has given military leaders the authority to use them, particularly chemical weapons. They will hesitate, however, because of the threat of counterstrike by the United States. Assassinating Saddam is not the answer; he would likely be succeeded by someone far worse.
AEI research assistant Molly McKew prepared this summary.