Joint Chiefs Bypassed in Decision to Disband Iraqi Army: Pace
Published on Wednesday, February 18, 2004 by the Agence France Presse
Joint Chiefs Bypassed in Decision to Disband Iraqi Army: Pace

WASHINGTON - The Joint Chiefs of Staff were not consulted on the US decision to disband the Iraqi army shortly after the end of major combat operations in Iraq last May, General Peter Pace, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said.

Pace said Paul Bremer, the head of the coalition provisional authority in Baghdad, ordered the army disbanded on his own authority.

"Those of us in Washington did not second guess those who were on point," he said at a question and answer session here at the Council on Foreign Relations. "We were not asked for a recommendation, or for advice."

Pace said he did not know what input Bremer received from military officials in the Iraq theater, but it was never specifically addressed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Some critics contend that disbanding the army helped fuel the post war insurgency, and that the country could have been stabilized more effectively had the army been called back to duty.

The US military is now building a new army and other indigenous security forces to fight off insurgents.

A coordinated attack on an Iraqi police station and Civil Defence Corps post in Fallujah Monday left 23 policemen dead.

Pace said he did not know who was behind the attack, but he predicted more "terrorist" violence as the handover of sovereignty to Iraqis gets nearer.

"We believe the nexus between those who are indigenous Iraqis, and those who have been brought in from outside country has changed," he said. "More and more people are coming in from outside, and there are fewer and fewer who are Iraqis themselves."

©2004 AFP