Iraqi Militia Forming to Help Seek, Destroy Saddam Loyalists
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 20, 2003 An Iraqi militia is being formed to assist U.S. and coalition forces in rooting out and destroying Saddam loyalists who've been attacking coalition forces and obstructing reconstruction efforts, the senior U.S. administrator in Iraq said July 20.
"We're starting this week to raise an Iraqi civil defense corps," L. Paul Bremer III announced on the "Fox News Sunday" television program. Bremer was in town for consultations with senior U.S. administration officials on the situation in Iraq.
The new militia, Bremer noted, "will be made up of Iraqis who will be under American military command to help us basically with the armed part of the work we're doing" in establishing security across Iraq. He did not address the planned size of the militia.
Saddam paramilitary supporters have been responsible for more than 35 U.S. military deaths in Iraq since President Bush declared the cessation of major combat operations in the country.
Those American casualties continue: Two U.S. 101st Airborne Division troops were killed and one wounded in an ambush near Tal Afar July 20, according to a U.S. Central Command news release. Another U.S. soldier was killed and two injured on the same day in a vehicle accident.
On July 19 a soldier with the U.S. 1st Armored Division was killed by insurgents, according to an earlier CENTCOM release.
CENTCOM's commander, Army Gen. John Abizaid, recently observed that Saddam loyalists in Iraq are conducting increasingly organized guerilla-type warfare against U.S. and coalition troops in Iraq and those Iraqis opposed to the deposed Saddam-regime.
Bremer noted that establishing the Iraqi militia will bolster the country's security along with three other elements: the just-started recruitment for a new national army "a defensive armed force, not involved in domestic policing"; the just-opened academy to train a 65,000-member police force for "policing the cities"; and an Iraqi border guard force being formed "to help us defend the borders."
However, by establishing a pro-coalition Iraqi militia to assist in the search for Saddam supporters still in Iraq, Bremer noted, "we're likely to get better intelligence about who it is we're fighting."
And obtaining such intelligence "really is the heart of the matter here," he emphasized.
"We have to know who these people are," Bremer explained, "then we've got to seek them out (and) either capture them or kill them."