Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Iraq Invasion 'Flawed,' Says a Leader of Baghdad Charge; Former Fort Stewart Commander Says Decision to Invade Was a Mistake

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Iraq Invasion 'Flawed,' Says a Leader of Baghdad Charge; Former Fort Stewart Commander Says Decision to Invade Was a Mistake

Article excerpt

Byline: SEAN HARDER

SAVANNAH -- The general who commanded the 3rd Infantry Division's 2003 charge into Iraq now says the U.S. decision to invade that country was flawed from the start.

"Knowing what we know today, with the deaths we've had and lack of stability and challenge the insurrection has caused, there may have been a better way," retired Army Maj. Gen. Buford Blount said this week. "Of course, that's all hindsight. I supported the decision at the time.

"But looking back now, it's clear the plan was flawed."

Blount led 22,0000 troops to Baghdad in an assault that traveled 465 miles in 21 days, but he said the decision to invade was based on poor intelligence and flawed planning.

He spoke critically of the U.S. plan to take control of Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Basic government services such as police and fire services were non-existent, he said.

"The assumption had been that government would be functioning in Iraq, but none of that happened. Everything shut down completely, and we did not have a plan in place to fix that," he said.

Blount said he opposed both the decision to disband the Iraqi army without pay after the invasion and the attempt to rebuild it from the ground up. He said he made that opposition known to his superiors at the time.

"First of all, in our pre-attack plan we told them to put down their weapons and go home and they would be taken care of," he said. "We were paying every government employee in Iraq but did nothing for the military. That was a poor decision.

"It was a functioning force that could have been greatly used by us to get the country back together quickly. Instead, we sent all these young trained soldiers home with no future and no money to support their families, so they were easily recruited by the insurgents."

But, Blount said, pulling out of Iraq now would cause chaos.

"It's too soon to start withdrawing any large number of forces," he said. …

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