Sunday | July 20, 2003
An Army against itself
By Steve Gilliard
The rapid disintegration was largely preordained, Iraqis said. The Iraqi military was composed of disparate and competing armies with no central command authority, top generals inexplicably ordered some units not to fight, and security precautions left officers unable to communicate or to coordinate battle plans, according to interviews with more than two dozen former general officers and other field commanders serving in the regular army and special military units.
By the time the war began, most of the Iraqi air force's fighter planes had been disassembled and hidden, many air defense units were under orders not to turn on their radars and artillery batteries were operating at 50 percent capability, military leaders said.
In the end, former president Saddam Hussein was undercut not only by the destruction wrought by the Americans but by an Iraqi regular military that felt little loyalty to a leader who paid his special armies better salaries and intimidated generals into lying about the dilapidated state of his armed forces, the senior officers said.
Every commander interviewed said that despite the anxiety of U.S. officials, no Iraqi military unit had been issued chemical or biological weapons.
Hussein's system of rewards also spawned an atmosphere of deceit that deluded the president into believing his armed forces went into the war far better equipped and militarily capable than they really were, senior officers said.
Gen. Yasin Mohammad Taha Joubouri, an artillery specialist with 38 years in the regular army, said he was summoned to a meeting with the president in 1999, who ordered him to help the Defense Ministry build one of the largest artillery pieces in the world.
The army, with assistance from specialists, designed a cannon with a barrel 210 millimeters -- more than eight inches -- in diameter, a weapon so cumbersome that Joubouri and the other specialists knew it could not work. Still, Joubouri helped build a full-scale model and drafted fake performance records to convince the president that the project was progressing.
"No one could tell him it couldn't work," said Joubouri, who said he was still working on the cannon when he left the army six months ago. "He was giving us awards and presents."
So, Saddam's generals lied for money, could not coordinate operations and are still supposed to have access to WMD?
It is increasingly likely that much WMD development which took place after 1998 was fictional given the routine nature of lying common in the Iraqi military.Posted July 20, 2003 05:06 AM