January 20, 2006:
The Iraqi Army's November call, for officers who
had served in Saddam Hussein's forces, to return to active duty,
attracted considerable attention. But in fact, the process of
recruiting officers who had served under the former regime had actually
begun in a small way in mid-2004. At that time, the government quietly
offered most former officers a modest pension or the possibility of
reinstatement, following careful vetting for ties to the Baath
movement. The number of former officers who took advantage of this
offer is not known, but does not appear to have been large. Most of
those who did take up the offer seem to have had ties to the country's
minorities. Nevertheless, some officers in mid-level and even
higher-level command slots in the newly forming Iraqi Army appear to
have been among them.
November offer seems to have had a more favorable response. After
checking for ties to the Baath regime or possible war crimes charges, a
modest number of former officers were admitted to a "retraining"
program that was carefully structured to respect their rank and build
on their experience, while exposing them to a more Western way of
command and operations. These men have begun to enter service, in their
former ranks. Reportedly more than a hundred are now on active duty.