Wednesday, August 08, 2007

It's Dead, Jim

One still hears arguments that we screwed up by disbanding the Iraqi army after Baghdad fell.

I have long asserted that the army was gone, having self-disbanded during the war.

A RAND study hopefully ends this argument once and for all:

By the time U.S. forces entered Baghdad, the Iraqi Army had largely dissolved. But formal Iraqi surrenders were comparatively few. Out of a total enemy force of some 350,000, only about 7,000 (2 percent) were taken prisoner by Coalition forces—a fraction of the more than 85,000 Iraqis captured by Coalition forces in the 1991 Gulf War. Not a single organized Iraqi military unit remained intact when major combat ended. All the Iraqis who had survived the war, including those in units that had no contact with Coalition ground forces, had “self-demobilized” by going home.

While I recall that we tried to get unit commanders to defect with their units intact to provide a post-Saddam security force (even emailing them), my memory from the war is that we didn't want individual Iraqis swarming us to surrender. We wanted them to go home to avoid the burden of caring for several hundred thousand POWs while we were busy racing for Baghdad.

But the key point is that "disbanding" the Iraqi army was a purely technical order. The Iraqi army was already gone. Period.

I trust this will be my last post on this issue.