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Wolfowitz: Former Iraqi Army Troops Could Play Role in New Iraq

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 24, 2003 – As the U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq continue training Iraq's new security forces, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said here today he has "no prejudice" against hiring members of the old Iraqi army "as long as their record is clean."

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz greets Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of Combined Joint Task Force 7, on arrival at Baghdad International Airport in Iraq, Oct. 24. Photo by Donna Miles
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Speaking to reporters, Wolfowitz said tapping into the training and experience of former members of the old regime's army could help accelerate Iraq's assumption of responsibilities for its affairs, particularly security.

He stressed that neither high-ranking officers within the Iraqi army nor others who remain loyal to Saddam Hussein would be considered. A Combined Joint Task Force 7 officer in Baghdad said former members of Iraqi combat units also would likely be ruled out.

However, Wolfowitz said that others who support the country's democratization - - particularly those who served in engineering, transportation and other support units -- could make a positive contribution to the new Iraq.

More than 80,000 Iraqis now serve as police, facilities protection forces, border guards, and members of the new Iraqi Civil Defense Corps. In fact, Iraqi forces now make up the second-largest component in the coalition, second only to the United States.

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