Built and trained by the U.S. at a cost of some $25 billion, the Iraqi Army quickly collapsed in the last few weeks against well-equipped rebel fighters. For the Americans tasked with helping to create the country’s security force, it’s a disturbing, though not unexpected, blow.
America Tonight asked three veterans who trained, advised and fought alongside the Iraqi Army about how such an enormous investment in blood and money could seemingly vanish so quickly.
“They weren’t soldiers because they wanted to be soldiers,” explained Marine First Lt. Dave Jackson, who fought with Iraqi forces during his two deployments to Iraq. “They were soldiers because they wanted a job.”
He said the decision in 2003 to dissolve Saddam Hussein’s army created a vacuum of structure and experience. Gone were its senior officer and senior enlisted corps, and he said what the army built instead never reached the level of a professional force.
“No matter how many billions of dollars you spend you cannot buy experience. You cannot buy legacy. You cannot just manufacture that out of nowhere,” Jackson said. “…They've been set up for failure from the beginning."