Considering Iraq needs to take over responsibility for its own security, it's sensible to install 20,000 experienced officers to whip the troops into shape. It should also stabilize the military.
The only down side one should be cautious about is staying alert for a possible coup d’etat becuse such aren't unknown in the area with or without Western help.
BAGHDAD – Iraq on Friday reinstated 20,000 former army officers dismissed after the U.S.-led invasion, a landmark gesture at reconciliation ahead of the March 7 elections.
It's a move designed to allay some of the bitterness that still rankles Iraq — years after the Bush administration first made the controversial decision to dismantle Saddam Hussein's army.
Jobless and angry, some from the old army took their expertise in explosives, urban warfare and military tactics to the insurgency, seeking an income for their families or revenge against the Americans and their Iraqi allies.
The disbanding of the army, along with the looting of the army's bases and depots across much of Iraq, is widely blamed for the torturously slow pace of forming, equipping and training the country's new army.
A Defense Ministry statement said the rehired personnel would be reinstated by Sunday, but a senior Iraqi military official said absorbing so many could take weeks or months to complete.
In recent years, thousands of officers from the disbanded army have trickled back to service in an ongoing process of reintegration. The official said a ministry committee has been screening officers for ties to Saddam's regime or involvement in atrocities or war crimes.
He said reinstatements were strictly based on the army's present requirements and mainly benefited officers from the rank of colonel down. U.S. commanders have in the past pointed out that Iraq's new army, which is at least 300,000-strong, desperately needed mid-ranking and experienced noncommissioned officers.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.
Al-Maliki's Shiite-dominated government has already reinstated many Sunni officers as top commanders in the new army. It also waived "de-Baathification" rules and reinstated generals — Sunnis and Shiites — who once held senior positions in Saddam's ruling party.
What do you think? Good idea?
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