New York Times
How I Didn’t Dismantle Iraq’s Army
By L. PAUL BREMER III
IT has become conventional wisdom that the decision to disband Saddam Hussein’s army was a mistake, was contrary to American prewar planning and was a decision I made on my own. In fact the policy was carefully considered by top civilian and military members of the American government. And it was the right decision.
By the time Baghdad fell on April 9, 2003, the Iraqi Army had simply dissolved. On April 17 Gen. John Abizaid, the deputy commander of the Army’s Central Command, reported in a video briefing to officials in Washington that “there are no organized Iraqi military units left.” The disappearance of Saddam Hussein’s old army rendered irrelevant any prewar plans to use that army. So the question was whether the Coalition Provisional Authority should try to recall it or to build a new one open to both vetted members of the old army and new recruits.
I don't much care about Paul Bremer's reputation. I'm of the opinion that he did more harm than good during his year in charge. And I'm not the only one who thinks so
. But, as much as I dislike Paul Bremer for the mistakes that legitimately
can be laid at his feet, he's absolutely correct on this one point. And as far as I know, only Mario Loyola and I have been making this very important distinction that today seems thoroughly lost to the meta-narrative of "what went wrong in Iraq."
So, in the interest of an honest, factual, re-telling of the entire Iraq War story, hear this. I was there. The road to Baghdad was literally strewn with cast-off Iraqi helmets, boots, and small arms.
I saw it with my own eyes. There was no Iraqi Army left to "disband." It was non-existent!
And anyone who tries to tell you the decision to "disband" a non-existent army was a "mistake" is selling you a fiction that doesn't square with the historical facts.