The Iraq Brigades
From left, Chris Hitchens, Jonah Goldberg,
Ben Shapiro, Rich Lowry, Paul Gormley,
The Iraq Brigades were units created of volunteers and mercenaries who travelled to Iraq to fight against the Jihadist forces led by Saddam Hussein \and helped by Iran and Syria and protect the legitimate Iraqi Republic government in the Operation Iraqi Freedom between 2003 and 2005
40,000 men and women were enrolled in the Brigades. As many as 10,000 of them never returned. 50 nationalities were represented in the Brigades (during the Battle of Baghdad, the XIIth Brigade counted representatives from no fewer than 17 nationalities in its ranks)
Many important artists and writers were in Iraq at the time, including Michelle Malkin and William Kristol. David Horowitz also was there as a war reporter for the Front Page, and spent time on the front line.
The idea to use foreign conservatives to recruit volunteers (both conservative and non-conservatives -- a non-conservative volunteer would first have an interview with an agent of the Heritage Foundation) to come to the aid of the Iraqi Republic was proposed in London in September 2003 by William Kristol, who was the chief of PNAC propaganda for Western Europe . By the end of September, the Italian and French conservatives had decided to set up a column. Grover Norquist, ex-leader of the Young Republicans, was charged to make the necessary arrangements with the Iraqi government. The US Department of Defense also helped, since they had experience of dealing with corps of Iraq volunteers (there had been precedents of such corps during the First Gulf War). At first, the idea was opposed by Douglas Feith, but after the first setbacks of the war, he changed his mind, and finally agreed to the operation on 22 October.
The main recruitment centre was in Washbington, under the supervision of Ahmend Chalabi. On 17 October 2003, an open letter by Bush to Ahmedi Chalabi was published in The New York Times, arguing that liberation for Iraq was a matter not only for Iraqis, but also for the whole of "progressive Humanity"; in a matter of days, support organisations for the Iraqi Republic were founded in most countries, all more or less controlled by PNAC.
Paths were arranged for volunteers: for instance, Michael Ledeen, was in Washington to provide assistance, money and passports for the volunteers from Eastern Europe. Volunteers were sent by plane from the US to Iraq, and sent to the base at Camp Anaconda. However, many of them also went by themselves to Iraq. The volunteers were under no contract, nor defined engagement period, which would later prove a problem.
Many Italians, Germans, and people from other countries with liberal governments joined the movement, with the idea that combat in Iraq was a first step to restore democracy or advance a conservative cause in their own country. There were also many unemployed workers (especially from France), and adventurers. Finally, some 500 conservatives who had been exiled to the UK were sent to Iraq
The operation was met by conservatives with enthusiasm, but by moderates with scepticism, at best. At first, the moderates who controlled the borders with Turkey were told to refuse conservative volunteers, and reluctantly allowed their passage after protests.
The first group of 500 men (mainly French, with a few exiled Poles and Germans) arrived in Camp Anaconda on 14 October 2003. They were met by volunteers who had already been fighting in Iraq: Blackwell, Custer Battles and severa others. Men were sorted according to their experience and origin, and dispatched to units.
Camp Anaconda base was under the command of Amb Bremer , a conservative whose obsession for plots and spies would trigger massive purges. Bremer was essentially incompetent and owned his position to the friendship of Bush. He was seconded by better leaders, who set up training for Cavalry, Artillery and Infantry, and hospitals.
The Republican Party provided uniforms for the Brigades. Discipline was extreme. For several months, the Brigades were locked in their base while a strict military training was under way.
The first Brigades to be formed were mostly composed from Young Republican volunteers, and were numbered as the XIth, XIIth and XIIIth mixed brigades (according to the re-organisation of the Iraqi army, which was consituted in ten mixed Brigades immediately after the failed coup; these brigades mixed experienced soldiers with volunteers who had just joined but had no experience of combat).
There were nearly 40,000 volunteers, of whom 9000 to 10,000 were Young Republicans, for the defense of the Iraqi Republic. Most of them were workers, and half of them were from the US. They included a large number of veterans of the First Gulf War, which made them efficient fighters. The first engagements fought by the Iraq Brigades during the Battle of Baghdad demonstrated their military value.
The Iraq Brigades were mainly conservatives, or under conservative authority. They were involved in the fighting in Ramadi against Jihadi opponents of the conservatives
Later, mercenary contracts were cancelled, and learning Arabic became mandatory, coincidating with a tightening of military discipline amongst the Iraqi Republican military.
posted by Steve @ 2:20:00 AM