Saturday, October 24, 2009

Iraq’s rapidly growing military capability is a great threat to Kurdistan's future - By Baqi Barzani

A report on the status quo of Iraqi Armed forces capabilities

After the invasion in 2003, the Baath party was more or less dissolved. Adherents and members belonging to ministry of defense, ministry of state for military affairs, national security bureau, republican Guards and directorate of military intelligence and Saddam's irregular units were instantaneously evicted and replaced. The 400, 000 regular troops and the 10,000 troops generals of the Iraqi Army melted back into the civilian population. Some of them were killed and some fled and took refuge in neighboring Syria, Turkey, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, and Saudi.

After the disestablishment, the strategic goal of US and coalition forces became attempting to restructure a new-fangled, self-sustaining military that can promptly restore order, guard itself against any foreign threat as well as preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq.

The design to rebuild a well-trained and well-built force was crucial to be put into practice to safeguard US interests and facilitate any promising future troops pullout

In 2003, the US military started swiftly providing training, equipments and substantial funds to the Iraqi Army. Their primary task: focusing on preparing and assisting an army to wage war against a raging insurgency largely driven by disgruntled Iraqi Sunni Arabs and foreign Islamic forces operating in different parts of Iraq. The Iraqi Army and Special Forces could acquire colossal expertise in counterinsurgency and counter terrorism operations.

Due to the lake of combat skills, in 2005, the US badly necessitated the experience of some former veteran Baathists high-ranking officers in the new ranks and files of military. The US military intelligence unit clandestinely sent for some of them and reinstated them back on stipulation of swearing allegiance to the new Iraqi government.

The US has provided the different branches of Iraqi armed forces with loads of its highly developed versions of armaments and trained them how to utilize them. The current Iraqi Army retains in its possessions adequate quantity and numbers of US-made light-to- heavy machine guns, RPG, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, M16, M4, C4, TNT, artillery, grenades, tanks and helicopters to raze Kurdistan to ground in a matter of few days.

The Iraqi Army seized the leeway and has enhanced its command and control, communication systems, weaponry system, equipment, logistic support, intelligence, fire support, transportation, staffing, levels, and leadership to an extent that is even superior than the Saddam’s era.

Currently, the Iraqi Army possesses an adequate of willing and manpower, a steadily improving command centers, training facilities, operating bases.

The number of new recruits is increasing day by day. The sectarian influence with the ranks of Army has been dramatically reduced. The current Iraqi army is promoting ant-Kurdish ethnic war and touting Arab nationalism. The extent of advancement is beyond thoughts and should by no means be underestimated.

Iraqi Air force has received extensive training. The Iraqi air force has reached a point where it can provide air support to ground operations. The Iraqi air forces have been provided with attack helicopters and their pilots trained on how to fly them.

The senior Arab generals are conspiring how to gradually take over security, critical installations, facilities, infrastructure, and lines of communication, and ultimately how to retain control over the population.

Many top secret meetings and agreements are being conducted devoid of KRG’s knowledge. Kurdish regional government is overconfident, over-reliant and failed to pay serious attention to this pressing issue.

The expansion and enhancement of Iraqi Armed forces is extremely perilous to the present and future security, economic, political state in Kurdistan, requiring immediate and prudent planning and actions.

Recommendations to Kurdistan defense authorities:

1- Prosecute all senior Baath-era officers in the current armed forces of Iraq as well and strive to bring to justice those having fled to Syria, Iran, Turkey, Kuwait, and Jordan.

2- Launch more expansive espionage and intelligence-gathering operations all over Iraq. Gather intelligence on the exact location of Iraqi US-provided helicopters and artillery's.

3- Acquire advanced weapons and military hardware from U.S. and other countries. Some are easily accessible in Baghdad’s black market such as: chemical masks, night vision goggles, binoculars, vests, helmets’.

4- In southern border lines of Iraq, close to Iran-Iraq war zone, tones of unexploded ordnance and explosive materials are laying on the grounds. They can easily be reprocessed and utilized for different purposes. Most importantly, we should try to remove them from the hands of terrorists.

5- Sign up joint defense and training agreements for Peshmarga forces with other advanced nations.

6- Send Peshmarga forces out of Kurdistan for further military education, combat training and preparations.

7- Encourage young Kurds in Diasporas to join military of their respective countries.

While focusing mainly on the reform of infrastructure, economy, health and education system and other projects to further propagate the nation, the issue of national defense is considered the most prominent and imperative concern and it should consistently remain the top priority in KRG’s agenda.