Iraq Can't Hire Military, Police

Iraq Can't Hire Military, Police
March 21st, 2009  
Team Infidel

Topic: Iraq Can't Hire Military, Police

Iraq Can't Hire Military, Police
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
March 21, 2009
Budget crisis raises security questions ahead of U.S. withdrawal
By Kim Gamel, Associated Press
Umm Qasr, Iraq--The drop in oil prices has forced Iraq’s military and police to put recruiting on hold even as the United States hands over more responsibility for protecting the country.
The freeze is stalling efforts to hire Sunni ex-insurgents and has prompted the Iraqi military to transfer hundreds of soldiers to the navy to protect vital oil installations in the Persian Gulf.
Iraq will also have to scale back purchases of equipment and weapons, raising new questions about its ability to defend the country’s borders and prevent a resurgence of violence.
All this comes as the Iraqi military is preparing for the 2011 departure of U.S. forces.
It’s unlikely to affect the withdrawal schedule, which was set in a security agreement that took effect Jan. 1. But unless oil prices rebound, the crisis could threaten hard-won security gains.
The freeze began without fanfare in the police ministry in December and expanded when the government had to revise its 2009 budget early this year. It was confirmed this week by U.S. and Iraqi officials.
This month, Iraq’s Parliament passed a $58.6 billion budget, which was sharply reduced twice from $79 billion after oil prices plummeted from a high of nearly $150 a barrel last July to $51 a barrel on Friday. Iraq relies on oil sales for about 90 percent of its revenue.
One of the biggest concerns is the government effort to bring tens of thousands of Sunni fighters who turned against al-Qaida in Iraq into the security forces to keep them employed and away from violence.
The government has promised to hire 20 percent of the so-called Sons of Iraq into the army or police, but the transition has gone slowly.
The transfer of more than 91,000 Sunnis who left the insurgency and joined security groups initially funded by the United States to Iraqi government control is due to be completed next month. Just over 3,000 have joined the army and police, although Iraq’s government is paying the others a small salary.
Brig. Gen. Frederick Rudesheim, a deputy commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad, said the hiring freeze has slowed the process even further.
Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani said the budget crisis has forced his ministry to postpone plans to increase the national police force of nearly 500,000 and establish a brigade in each province.
Iraqi security forces number more than 610,000, including police, soldiers, sailors and support forces.
Anthony Cordesman, a national security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said much depends on how long the budget crisis lasts.
He also noted that the drop in oil prices coincides with an overall reduction in international aid for Iraq due to the global economic crisis.
“Nobody basically is budgeting large amounts of aid for the coming year. So they’re getting hit from two directions, not just one,” Cordesman said. “This budget squeeze is going to affect every aspect of Iraqi stability.”

Similar Topics
How We'll Know When We've Won
Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon's Hidden Hand
Opposition To Iraq War Is Divided After 5 Years
Military Chaplains: A Rich History Of More Than Just Blessing The Cannons
Iraq Hampers U.S. Bid To Widen Sunni Police Role