DoD, Coalition to Look into Iraqi Army Resignations
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 11, 2003 Defense Department and coalition officials will look into why about a third of the men in the first battalion of the new Iraqi army have resigned, Pentagon officials said.
Officials in Baghdad said the first indication is that many of the men left over pay issues.
Officials said between 200 and 250 men in the 600-man battalion resigned. Many said they could make about $10 a month more if they entered other Iraqi security forces.
Pentagon officials said they recognize there is a problem, but they downplayed its importance. "This is one small unit in a massive security effort," said Army Lt. Col. James Cassella, a Pentagon spokesman. "We will look into it, because it is important to recruit and retain personnel for the new Iraqi army."
What's more important, he said, is that 160,000 Iraqis are involved with security forces in the country. "Iraqis now outnumber all the coalition forces in the country," Cassella said. "They are fighting and dying alongside coalition forces for a free Iraq."
There are five Iraqi security forces, and all are making contributions to stability in the country. Officials said the new Iraqi army is still small and its mission is aimed at defending the country from foreign enemies. The effect of the resignations is, therefore, also small, officials said.
There are 68,400 members of the Iraqi police, 65,300 members of the Facilities Protection Service, 13,200 members of the Civil Defense Corps and 12,500 members of the Border Police. Officials said no other security force has experienced the same problem as the new Iraqi army.