Military update: Crackdown begins on 'personality disorder'
By Tom Philpott,
Special to Stars and Stripes
November 14, 2008
Under pressure from Congress and following the Army's lead, the
Department of Defense has imposed a more
rigorous screening process on
the services for separating troubled members due to "personality
disorder." The intent
is to ensure that, in the future, no members who
suffer from wartime stress get tagged with having a pre-existing
disorder which leaves them ineligible for service disability
Since the attacks of 9/11, more than 22,600 service members have been
discharged for personality disorder.
Nearly 3400 of them, or 15
percent, had served in combat or imminent danger zones.Advocates for
these veterans contend
that at least some of them were suffering from
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury but it
easier and less costly to separate them for personality disorder.
By definition, personality disorders existed before a member entered
service so they do not deemed a
service-related disability rating. A
disability rating of 30 percent or higher, which most PTSD sufferers
can mean lifelong access to military health care and on-base
Over the last 18 months, lawmakers and advocates for veterans have
criticized Defense and service officials
for relying too often on
personality disorder separations to release member who deployed to Iraq,
Afghanistan or other
another areas of tension in the Global War on
A revised DoD instruction (No. 1332.14), which took effect without
public announcement August 28, responds
to that criticism. It only
allows separation for personality disorder for members currently or
to an imminent danger areas if:
1) the diagnosis by a psychiatrist or a PhD-level psychologist is
corroborated by a peer or higher-level
mental health professional,
2) if the diagnosis is endorsed by the surgeon general of the service,
3) if the diagnosis too into account a possible tie or "co-morbidity"
with symptoms of PTSD or war-related
mental injury or illness.Sam
Retherford, director of officer and enlisted personnel management in the
Office of the
Secretary of Defense, said adding "rigor and discipline"
to the process when separating deployed members for personality
is "very important," considering what is at stake for the member.
Last year several congressional hearings focused on overuse of
personality disorder separation after
The Nation magazine exposed
apparent abuses in a March 2007 article. It described the experience of
Jon Town. In October 2004, while Town stood in the
doorway of his battalion's headquarters in Ramadi, Iraq, an enemy
exploded into the wall above his head, knocking him unconscious.
When he came to, Town was numb all over, bleeding from his ears, and
had shrapnel wounds in his
neck. For two years he struggled with
deafness, loss of memory and depression before the Army, in September
separated Town after seven years' service. He was separated for a
pre-existing personality disorder and without disability
Writer Joshua Kors suggested there might be thousands of veterans like
Town, separated administratively
to save the services billions of
dollars in benefits.Last year, moved by this story and others, the
Senate adopted an
amendment to the fiscal 2008 defense authorization
bill from now president-elect Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Kit Bond (R-Mo.)
Joseph Liberman (ID-Conn.).
It directed Defense officials to report on service use of personality
disorder separations, and the Government
Accountability Office to study
how well the services follow DoD own rules for processing such
separations.The Army meanwhile
reviewed its own use of personality
disorder separations for more than 800 soldiers who had wartime
That review quickly found some "appalling" lapses, said an official,
including incomplete files and missing
counseling statements. A few
months ago the Army tightened its own rules for using personality
June, the Defense Department reported to
Congress that it would add "rigor" to its personality disorder
previewing the changes implemented in late August.
The Navy strongly had opposed the changes because it frequently uses
personality disorder separations
to remove sailors found too immature or
undisciplined to cope with life at sea.Requiring their surgeon general
every personality disorder separation from ships deployed in
combat theaters would be too burdensome, the Navy argued.
But Defense officials insisted on the changes.The DoD report in June
showed the Navy led all services
in personality disorder separations.
For fiscal years 2002 through 2007, the Navy total was 7554 versus 5923
Air Force, 5652 for the Army and 3527 for the Marine Corps. The
Army led in personality disorder separations to members
who had wartime
deployments, with a total of 1480 over six years.
The Navy total was 1155, the Marine Corps 455 and the Air Force 282.
DoD said it found "no indication"
that personality disorder diagnoses of
deployed members "were prone to systematic or widespread error." Nor
internal studies show "a strong correlation" between personality
disorder separations and PTSD, brain injury or other mental
Still, the Department shares Congress' concern regarding the possible
use of personality disorder as
the basis for administratively separating
this class of service member," the report said. In late October, GAO
its findings based on a review of service jackets for 312
members separated for personality disorder from four military
It said the services were not reliably compliant even with the
pre-August regulation governing separations.
For example, only 40 to 78
percent of enlisted member separated for personality disorder had
documents in their files
showing that a psychiatrist or qualified
psychologist determined that their disorder affected their ability to
Marine Band Begins New Season
In celebration of its 210th anniversary, the Marine Band recently began its 2008 Showcase Series, which focuses on several
special Living History concerts. With unique repertoire, numerous guest artists, period instruments and uniforms, and galleries
of artifacts and images, each concert will represent a journey back in time in American history to experience the evolution
of "The President's Own" United States Marine Band. All concerts are free and no tickets are required unless indicated otherwise.
For additional information and program selections during this season, visit "The President's Own" United States Marine Band
website at http://www.marineband.usmc.mil/
or call the concert information line at (202) 433-4011.
Concussion Raises PTSD Risk for Iraq Vets
Study found loss of consciousness increased chances of trauma the most
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
WEDNESDAY, Jan. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers report that soldiers
who have suffered concussions during their
time in Iraq are more likely
to experience post-traumatic stress disorder and other physical health
"There was indeed a higher rate of PTSD and/or health problems among
those who had concussions versus those with other
injuries," said study
author Dr. Christopher Hoge, director of psychiatry and neuroscience at
Walter Reed Army Institute
of Research, in Washington, D.C. His study is
published in the Jan. 31 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
"This is probably one of a very few studies which has begun to enumerate
the incidence of mild traumatic brain injury
[i.e. concussion] in
returning veterans," said David Hovda, director of the Brain Injury
Research Center at UCLA's Geffen
School of Medicine, in Los Angeles.
According to background information in the study, more than 1.5 million
U.S. military personnel have been deployed
to Iraq or Afghanistan since
2001. Thanks to better protective gear, many of these men and women are
that before would have killed them.
Head and neck injuries have been reported in one quarter of troops
evacuated from these areas. The proportion of soldiers
may be as high as 18 percent.
Hoge and his colleagues surveyed 2,525 U.S. Army infantry soldiers three
to four months after they had returned home
a yearlong deployment in
Iraq. Soldiers reporting concussion (defined as an injury with loss of
consciousness or altered
mental status such as being dazed or confused)
were compared with soldiers reporting other injuries. The soldiers were
two brigades only.
Almost 44 percent of soldiers reporting an injury involving loss of
consciousness met the criteria for PTSD versus
only 27.3 percent of
those reporting an injury involving altered mental status, 16.2 percent
of those with other injuries
and 9.1 percent of those with no injury.
Soldiers who had suffered concussion, and especially those who had
suffered concussion with loss of consciousness,
were significantly more
likely to report poor general health, missed workdays, visits to
health-care providers and sleep
After adjustments, PTSD and depression appeared to be the primary
problem. This makes a certain amount of sense as
concussion often occurs
in the context of a traumatic event involving psychological stress,
pointed out an accompanying
"This has implications for treatment, because obviously there's a big
difference in how we treat someone if they're
labeled as brain-injured
versus identifying that they, in fact, have PTSD," Hoge said.
It's also critical that soldiers be properly evaluated in the combat
theater at the time of injury, Hoge added.
The findings should help raise awareness for a generally
underappreciated condition, Hovda said. "There's no face
injury, so it really is a silent epidemic," he said. "And these military
individuals are extremely dedicated
and want to get back to service so
they [may be playing down their injuries]."
A second study in the same issue of the journal confirmed that violence
has been a major cause of death for Iraqis,
and the main cause of death
for Iraqi men aged 15 to 59 during the first three years following the
This is lower than previous estimates, said the authors, from Children's
Hospital Boston, but still constitutes a
huge death toll.
Copyright (c) 2008 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.
Military Strategy for the War On Terrorism
a .pdf file
click here to download file
Military to resume mandatory anthrax inoculations
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Pentagon said Monday it will once again
begin requiring anthrax vaccinations for troops heading into dangerous regions.
That means reinstating a program that has been challenged
repeatedly over possible health risks.
Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., the assistant secretary
of defense for health affairs, said the vaccinations will begin in 30 to 60 days, and will involve troops and civilian Defense
Department personnel and contractors who are serving in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Korean Peninsula.
"This is a safe and effective vaccine," Winkenwerder
said in a conference call with reporters. He said the move to reinstate the vaccine does not suggest there is any new or elevated
threat but the possibility of an anthrax attack is "very real and it has not gone away."
Opponents of the program promised a fresh challenge.
Mark S. Zaid, one of the lawyers who previously sued to stop the mandatory program, said he would file a new lawsuit "as soon
as needles start going into arms." Other groups who have opposed the program also criticized the new requirements.
"This is a vaccine that is unproven, unnecessary
and has the potential to jeopardize the health of a service member where little benefit will be derived," Zaid said. "It's
always been a public relations program and nothing more."
He questioned why the Pentagon is inoculating troops
in the Middle East when the 2001 anthrax attacks that left five people dead and sickened 17 took place in the United States.
Some people in Colorado are also upset over the
decision to make the shot mandatory again.
Denise Nichols got the shot because she was in Iraq
"When we were at war and they said, there's the
possibility of exposure, I trusted my government at the time," she said.
She says she is very upset the shot is once again
mandatory. "It's dereliction of duty on the part of our commanders, our current commanders, our medical commanders, to do
this," she said.
Winkenwerder said the vaccine has been thoroughly
reviewed by the federal Food and Drug Administration and several independent groups and deemed safe.
He said anyone who refused the vaccine would be
reminded of its importance and safety. Then, if needed, their supervisor would get involved and the matter would be resolved
"like any other refusal to follow a lawful order."
He said that while significant numbers of troops
refused the vaccine in 1998-99, very few have objected to taking it since then. About 10 people were discharged for refusing
the vaccine in 2004, but he said he did not know how many may have refused and gotten other punishments. He was unsure what
would happen if a civilian employee or contractor refused the vaccine.
Local microbiologist Michael Vasil says anthrax
is still a major threat.
"It's easy to transport, easy to hide and it's easy
to manufacture in large amounts," said Vasil.
The drug has been at the center of a multiyear lawsuit
that began when six members of the military challenged the mandatory vaccination program.
Since 1998, at least 1.2 million troops have been
vaccinated against anthrax in six-shot regimens. Hundreds of service members had been punished or discharged for refusing
them until U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in December 2004 suspended the vaccinations after he found fault in the FDA's
process for approving the drug.
Several months later Sullivan said the Pentagon
could resume vaccinations on a voluntary basis. Then, last December the FDA affirmed its earlier finding that the vaccine
was safe and effective.
According to Winkenwerder, there is enough vaccine
to inoculate the several hundred thousand troops that will be deploying to Iraq, Afghanistan and other dangerous locations.
Pentagon officials are also working with the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention to determine if at least one of the six initial shots can be eliminated. The vaccine also
requires an annual booster shot.
Other groups questioned the vaccine's safety.
"The (Defense Department) has a moral duty to fully
disclose anthrax vaccine risks, as well as benefits, to soldiers and allow them to make an informed, voluntary vaccination
decision," said Barbara Loe Fisher, president of the nonprofit National Vaccine Information Center.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The battle over anthrax inoculations for
the military continues. The Bush administration is asking a federal appeals court to reinstate mandatory inoculations for
many military personnel.
Those vaccinations were suspended after a federal
judge found problems with the way the Food and Drug Administration approved the drug.
Meanwhile, a lawyer for soldiers who refused the
shots says the vaccine was never intended for the purpose the Pentagon is using it. Labels for the vaccine say it's for individuals
with a high risk of exposure to anthrax, such as veterinarians and certain industrial workers.
Over one million troops have been vaccinated against
anthrax in six-shot regimens since 1998. Hundreds of service members have been punished or discharged for refusing them.
Forced Anthrax Vaccinations for Our Troops: Another
Instance of Government Abuse
http://www.firebasenetwork.net/By: John Waltz
firstname.lastname@example.orgSpecial Assignment Writer
Recently the Department of Defense has started forcing
the members of the Armed Forces to get Anthrax
after the FDA deemed it as safe. If they
do not take the vaccinations they are subject to
punishment from their chain
of command that has led
all the way up to dishonorable discharges for many. In
a time when morale is vital the government
to use our soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines as
guinea pigs. The sad part is there is a little known
which is: TITLE 10 Subtitle A PART II CHAPTER 55 §
1107 which protects them from being forced into taking
but of course no one is going to educate
To summarize this law it clearly states that:
administering an investigational drug to
members of the Armed Forces, the Department of Defense
(DoD) must obtain informed
consent from each
individual unless the Secretary can justify to the
President a need for a waiver of informed consent
accordance with 10 U.S.C. 1107 (f). Waivers of
informed consent will be granted only when absolutely
(b) In accordance with 10 U.S.C. 1107 (f), the
President may waive the informed consent requirement
administration of an investigational drug to a
member of the Armed Forces in connection with the
in a particular military
operation, upon a written determination by the
President that obtaining consent:
is not feasible;
(2) is contrary to the best interests of the member;
(3) is not in the interests of national security.
This vaccination has not been clearly proven safe
an independent medical research facility rather it has
been cleared by the government agency FDA. It would
that it is plain as day that the FDA is the
president's puppet and will pull its strings in any
direction that pleases
the government. There have been
many side effects that are associated with this and
also diseases it has caused.
side effects are many but to name the most serious
they are: confusion, kidney failure, fibroid tumors in
immune system deficiencies, brain lesions,
loss of organ function, and suicide attempts. Along
with this there also
have been many diagnosed diseases
that have been caused by the vaccination which include
but not limited to: aplastic
cardiac arrest, various cancers, Gulf War Illness and
Lou Gherig's disease. I am sure that if the
public were put into a soldier's shoes and were told
they had to take this shot they would refuse it also.
the DoD will ignore this and go against
the very foundations our country was built around.
The founders of this
great country had ensured that in
the constitution it clearly stated that our new
nation's military would be controlled
control. This confidence was built on the government
leadership's assurance to give unprejudiced evaluation
threats, weaponry and force protection. Then what
happens if the government bullies these civilian
leaders into believing
inaccurate assessment of the
anthrax vaccine? The government ends up granting an
immunization program that clearly is
harmful to our
service members and in turn their trust is betrayed.
On December 13, 2006 service members invoked
and are suing the government to stop this atrocity
before many more are harmed by this vaccination. The
that has taken the case for them is Attorney
Mike Zaid who has said in court documents that the
FDA's findings are not scientifically sound and that
should be strictly voluntary not
mandatory. Attorney Zaid is quoted saying that, "About
10 people were discharged for
refusing the vaccine in
2004, but I do not know how many may have refused and
gotten other punishments." He was unsure
happen if a civilian employee or contractor refused
As we can clearly see this is another
example of the
government abusing their powers and in effect are
putting our service member's lives and health in
jeopardy. Hopefully the American public can
become more aware of this along with the service
members so that this immunization
program is halted
before it is too late. We have to speak up and as
always let our voices be heard.
is interested in your thoughts, send
comments to email@example.com
Lessons of the AK-47
Kahaner is the
author of the just-published AK-47: The
Weapon That Changed the Face of War. This is his
first post for Defense Tech.
quest for the latest and most sophisticated weaponry we sometimes tend to overlook a major success
in low-tech arms. But there's a lot we can learn from them – especially
the AK-47 assault rifle.
The AK-47 is the world's
most popular military weapon. At last count, there may be as many as 100 million of these uncomplicated
but deadly rifles in use. That's one AK for every 60 people. It is used by about 50 legitimate armies as well as terrorists
– Osama Bin Laden calls it the terrorist's most important weapon
– insurgents, drug cartels,
paramilitary groups and guerrillas.
The rifle, first produced in
1947 – hence the name AK-47 for Automatic Kalashnikov 1947
– has undergone very few changes since it was first produced by Soviet
soldier Mikhail Kalashnikov. The furniture has been replaced with low weight plastics, and a few
other mods here and there depending upon which of the 19 countries produced it, but it is essentially the same weapon it was
60 years ago.
What accounts for its success?
Quite simply: it works. Despite its low price (as little as $10 and as much as $300) and often
shoddy workmanship, this rifle rarely jams, is almost indestructible, and is easy to fire with no training. Overnight, it
can transform paramilitary forces, thugs and street gangs into formidable armies.
is not very accurate but can fire about 700 rounds per minute. Many western military experts consider it a piece of junk,
but it's perfect for poorly-trained soldiers because they can 'spray and pray.' And indeed, it is a piece of junk compared
to the M-16A2 now used in Iraq
or the shorter barreled version M-4. These rifles
are well built, accurate and engineered to close tolerances. They are technological things of beauty.
The AK, on the other hand has loose tolerances, feels like it will shake apart (but doesn't) and won't make any friends at
the marksmen club. These loose tolerances are the open secret to the
AK's almost jam-free history. It's also why you can drag it through mud, leave it buried in the sand and take it out a year
later, kick it with your boot, and it will fire like it was cleaned that morning. Again, because of its imprecision, the AK can fire poorly produced ammunition as well as ammo that has been sitting and
deteriorating in the jungle or desert.
When the Defense Department
offered M-16s to the Iraqi police and army, they refused. They wanted AKs which had to be bought
from Jordan (the weapons actually
were made in Germany). Indeed, like their brethren in Vietnam, many US soldiers are using AKs in Iraq despite official sanctions
against the practice.
the Pentagon planers ponder what's next for infantry firearms, they need to think in terms of simple instead of complex and
practical instead of sophisticated. There's no reason why soldiers should be using M-4s that overheat or place condoms over
their gun barrels to keep out the desert sands.
The solution has not come for
lack of trying. From the late 1990s to the early 2000s, the Army was developing a new assault rifle known as the XM8 project an outgrowth
of the Objective Individual
Combat Weapon program, which
was to produce a new type of battle rifle. The main goal of the XM8 program was to find a replacement
for the M-16 and M4.
However, by late 2005, the XM8 was
scrapped partially because of politics; Congress was reluctant to spend billions to outfit soldiers with new rifles while
the Iraq war was draining the treasury.
The real problem
may be that as the program progressed, military planners kept adding bells and whistles to the rifle system -- even including
an electronic bullet counter -- and it became too complex, heavy and unwieldy. Designers would have done better to simply
aim for a new infantry rifle that works as well as the AK-47 and be
just as simple.
The AK may not be the best rifle
for the US but designers can learn from Kalashnikov's experience in building the AK-47. He often found himself guided by the
words of arms designer Georgy Shpagin, who developed the successful
PPSh41 submachine gun: "Complexity
is easy; simplicity is difficult."
For Immediate Release: December 7, 2006
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The Military Family Network and CarePages Team up to Keep communities and military
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2.2% Pay Raise
Effective January 2007
American Forces Press Service
| Jim Garamone | October 25, 2006
WASHINGTON – With the 2.2 percent across-the-board pay raise that is
part of the Fiscal 2007 National Defense Authorization Act, the Defense Department will reach its goal to bring military basic
pay to the 70th percentile when compared to civilians with comparable education and training, a top DoD compensation official
The goal grew out of the 9th Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation
released in 2002, which concluded that basic pay did not adequately compensate an increasingly educated military force.
Virginia Penrod, DoD’s director of military compensation, said the
2.2 percent across-the-board pay raise – which kicks in Jan. 1, matches the employment cost index for the year. ECI
measures the growth in private-sector wages. Current law ties any military pay raise to the index.
Also helping DoD reach its goal, she said, is targeted pay raises for servicemembers
in grades E-5 to E-7 and warrant officers that go into effect April 1.
But compensation is more than simply basic pay. While servicemembers have
seen a basic pay increase since 2001 of roughly 28 percent, basic allowance for housing has risen over 50 percent, Penrod
said. “As far as compensation (is concerned), we think we have it right,” she said in an interview with the Pentagon
Channel and American Forces Press Service.
When officials talk about compensation, they include basic allowance for
housing, basic allowance for subsistence, basic pay and the tax advantage for not having allowances taxed.
DoD has more than 20 different types of bonuses, and the act enables the
department to pay these bonuses through the fiscal year. It also puts some changes into effect for those bonuses.
For example, the act has increased the amount of the bonus paid to servicemembers
who transfer between armed forces. An airman transferring to the Army is now eligible to receive a $10,000 bonus after serving
three years in the new service. Previously, Congress capped that bonus at $2,500. Penrod said that bonus will be used to get
sailors and airmen to sign up for the Army.
The act also raises the ceiling of debt DoD is allowed to cancel. “Soldiers
serving in Iraq, for example, receive hostile fire pay, family separation pay and hardship pay,” Penrod said. “If
the servicemember is injured and medevacced to Germany, sometimes mistakes happen and the pays are not cancelled. The soldier
now has a debt.”
If later, as the Defense Finance and Accounting Service is processing the
servicemember for medical separation or retirement, that debt shows up, she explained, officials can now waive up to $10,000
of debt incurred through no fault of the servicemember.
The act also extends the military pay table to 40 years. This is part of
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld’s military transformation effort. Senior officers, warrant officers and noncommissioned
officers are a valuable trained resource to the department, Penrod said, and this gives selected servicemembers an incentive
to remain in the military longer. The pay table has regular longevity increases from 30 to 40 years of service, and a servicemember
retiring after 40 years of service would receive 100 percent of basic pay.
Penrod said the 10th Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation –
meeting now – will look at ways to simplify DoD pays. “We have over 60 special incentive pays, and it’s
difficult to keep up with,” she said. “We hope to simplify our pays and put them in basically five categories;
it would make it easier to manage the pays.”
both: räk´, rk´, officially Republic of Iraq, republic (2005 est. pop. 26,075,000), 167,924 sq mi (434,924 sq km), SW Asia. Iraq is bordered
on the south by Kuwait, the Persian Gulf, and Saudi Arabia; on the west by Jordan and Syria; on the north by Turkey; and on
the east by Iran. Iraq formerly shared a neutral zone with Saudi Arabia that is now divided between the two countries. Baghdad
is the capital and largest city. The country is divided into 18 provinces.
Land and People
Iraq's only outlet to the sea is a short stretch of coast on the northwestern end of the Persian Gulf, including the Shatt
al Arab waterway. Basra and Umm Qasr are the main ports. Iraq is approximately coextensive with ancient Mesopotamia. The southwest,
part of the Syrian Desert, supports a small population of nomadic shepherds. In the rest of the country, life centers on the
great southeast-flowing rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, which come together in the Shatt al Arab at the head of the
Persian Gulf. The marshy delta was largely drained in the early 1990s as part of a government program to control the Marsh
Arabs, who had participated in the Shiite uprising against Saddam Hussein; marsh restoration efforts began in 2003. Between
the two rivers are numerous wadis and water basins.
Very little rainfall occurs in Iraq except in the northeast, and agriculture mainly depends upon river water. The sandy
soil and steady heat of the southeast enable a large date crop and much cotton to be produced. The rivers cause destructive
floods, though they occur less often as a result of flood-control projects undertaken since the 1950s. Farther upstream, as
the elevation increases, rainfall becomes sufficient to grow diversified crops, including grains and vegetables. In the mountainous
north the economy shifts from agriculture to oil production, notably in the great fields near Mosul and Kirkuk.
Nearly 80% of the population of Iraq is Arabic-speaking, while over 95% is Muslim (Sunni and Shiite) in religion. There
are about twice as many Shiites as Sunnis, the latter sect being more numerous throughout the majority of Arab countries.
The hilly uplands of NE Iraq are primarily inhabited by Kurds, who are Sunni Muslims; other large minorities of Iraq include
Turkomans (Turks), Armenians, and Assyrians (Nestorian Christians). Most of the country's once large Jewish population emigrated
to Israel in the early 1950s.
The oil industry dominates Iraq's economy, traditionally accounting for nearly 95% of the country's revenues. Oil is produced
mainly by the Iraq Petroleum Company, which was owned by an international group of investors until it was nationalized in
1972. The oil is piped to Turkey, Tripoli (Lebanon), Baniyas (Syria), and the Persian Gulf. Oil exports, which had suffered
during the Iran-Iraq War, improved during the late 1980s, only to be severely decreased by embargoes related to the Persian
Gulf War. In 1996, a UN agreement allowed Iraq to export oil for the first time since 1990; by the 2002, oil production was
about 70% of what it was in the 1970s. Following the U.S. invasion in 2003, oil production slowly returned to about 80% to
95% of what it had been in 2002.
Aside from petroleum production and refining, Iraq has a small, diversified industrial sector, including the production
of chemicals, textiles, cement, food products, construction materials, leather goods, and machinery. New industries have been
started in electronics products, fertilizers, and refined sugar. Agricultural production, which employs about a third of the
workforce, is not sufficient to meet the country's food requirements. Iraq's chief crops include wheat, barley, rice, vegetables,
dates (Iraq is one of the world's largest producers), and cotton. Cattle and sheep are also raised.
Iraq has been highly dependent on foreign economic aid in recent years, from both Western and Arab countries. The country
also has a severe labor shortage. The Baghdad Railway, long an important means of communication, is declining in importance
in favor of travel by road and air. There are international airports at Baghdad and Basra, and a state-owned airline operates
within Iraq and abroad.
Early History through British Influence
Iraq is a veritable treasure house of antiquities, and recent archaeological excavations have greatly expanded the knowledge
of ancient history. Prior to the Arab conquest in the 7th cent. AD, Iraq had been the site of a number of flourishing civilizations,
including the Sumer, which developed one of the earliest known writing systems, Akkad, Babylonia, and Assyria. The capital
of the Abbasid caliphate was established at Baghdad in the 8th cent. and the city became a famous center for learning and
Despite fierce resistance, Mesopotamia fell to the Ottoman Turks in the 16th cent. and passed under direct Ottoman administration
in the 19th cent. (see Ottoman Empire, when it came to constitute the three Turkish provinces of Basra, Baghdad, and Mosul.
At this time the area became of great interest to the European powers, especially the Germans, who wanted to extend the Berlin-Baghdad
railroad all the way to the port of Kuwait.
In World War I the British invaded Iraq in their war against the Ottoman Empire; Britain declared then that it intended
to return to Iraq some control of its own affairs. Nationalist elements, impatient over delay in gaining independence, revolted
in 1920 but were suppressed by the British. Late that year the Treaty of Svres established Iraq as a mandate of the League of Nations under British administration, and in 1921 the country was made
a kingdom headed by Faisal I. With strong reluctance an elected Iraqi assembly agreed in 1924 to a treaty with Great Britain
providing for the maintenance of British military bases and for a British right of veto over legislation. By 1926 an Iraqi
parliament and administration were governing the country. The treaty of 1930 provided for a 25-year alliance with Britain.
The British mandate was terminated in 1932, and Iraq was admitted to the League of Nations.
In 1933 the small Christian Assyrian community revolted, culminating in a governmental military crackdown and loss of life
and setting a precedent for internal minority uprisings in Iraq. Meanwhile, the first oil concession had been granted in 1925,
and in 1934 the export of oil began. Domestic politics were turbulent, with many factions contending for power. Late in 1936,
the country experienced the first of seven military coups that were to take place in the next five years.
In Apr., 1941, Rashid Ali al-Gaylani, leader of an anti-British and pro-Axis military group, seized power and ousted Emir
Abd al-Ilah, the pro-British regent for the child king, Faisal II (who had succeeded his father, Ghazi, ruler from Faisal
I's death in 1933 to his own death in 1939). The British reinforced their garrisons by landing troops at Basra, and in May,
al-Gaylani, with some German and Italian support, opened hostilities. He was utterly defeated by June, and Emir Abd al-Ilah
was recalled. On Jan. 16, 1943, Iraq declared war on the Axis countries. Anti-British sentiment was reasserted after the war,
and in 1948 a British-sponsored modification of the treaty of 1930 was defeated by the Iraqi parliament because of animosity
arising over the Palestine problem.
Iraq at Mid-Century
Iraq, with other members of the Arab League, participated in 1948 in the unsuccessful war against Israel. Premier Nuri
al-Said dissolved all political parties in 1954, and a new parliament was elected. A national development program, financed
mostly by oil royalties, was undertaken; the United States extended technical aid, and after 1956, military assistance. In
external affairs, Iraq continued adamant opposition to Israel and pledged loyalty to the Arab League. The USSR's support of
Kurdish nationalism caused a break in relations in 1955. Later that year Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, and Britain formed
the Baghdad Pact. In Feb., 1958, following announcement of the merger of Syria and Egypt into the United Arab Republic, Iraq
and Jordan announced the federation of their countries into the Arab Union.
In a swift coup on July 14, 1958, the army led by Gen. Abd al-Karim Kassem seized control of Baghdad and proclaimed a republic,
with Islam declared the national religion. King Faisal, Crown Prince Abd al-Ilah, and Nuri al-Said were killed, and the Arab
Union was dissolved. Iraq's activity in the Baghdad Pact ceased, and the country formally withdrew in 1959. Diplomatic relations
were restored with the USSR, but Iraq pursued a policy of nonalignment in the cold war. Relations with neighbors became antagonistic
when Iraq claimed sovereignty over Kuwait and over Iranian territory along the Shatt al Arab. In 1962 the chronic Kurdish
problem flared up when tribes led by Mustafa al-Barzani revolted, demanded an autonomous Kurdistan, and gained control of
much of N Iraq; fighting continued throughout the 1960s and 70s.
Coups and Conflicts
In Feb., 1963, Col. Abd al-Salam Aref led a coup that overthrew the Kassem regime. The new regime was dominated by members
of the Iraqi Ba'ath party, a socialist group whose overall goal was Arab unity. In Nov., 1963, however, the party's members
in the governing council were expelled by an army coup engineered by President Aref. In 1966, the president and two cabinet
members died in a helicopter crash. Aref's brother, Gen. Abd al-Rahman Aref, assumed office; he was overthrown by a bloodless
coup in 1968. Maj. Gen. Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr of the Ba'ath party became president and began a purge of opponents. Espionage
trials in 1969 led to the execution of more than 50 persons.
Relations with Syria soured in 1970 when a younger generation of Ba'ath party members took control there, creating a rivalry
between Syrian and Iraqi Ba'athists. Relations with the USSR improved, however, and in 1972 a 15-year friendship treaty was
signed. The Communist party in Iraq was also legalized. In 1973, another coup was foiled; the internal security chief was
blamed, and he and 35 others were executed. Iraq took an active part in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War; it also participated in
the oil boycott against nations supporting Israel. In early 1974, years of border conflicts with Iran culminated in heavy
armed clashes along the entire length of their border. A year later some agreement between Iraq and Iran over the Shatt al
Arab waterway was reached. At this time, Iraq's acquired wealth from its oil revenues enabled the establishment of modernization
programs and improved public services throughout the country.
In 1975 the Kurds once again fought for their independence in N Iraq, but they suffered heavily when Iran withdrew support.
Fighting led to the Iraqi bombing of Kurdish villages in parts of Iran, which again exacerbated tensions between the two countries.
Opposition within Iraq grew among the Shiites, who were the majority of the population yet were excluded from political power.
As the Islamic Revolution in neighboring Iran grew in the late 1970s, Iraqi leaders recognized its threat.
The Presidency of Saddam Hussein
In 1979, President Bakr resigned, and Saddam Hussein Takriti assumed control of the government. He immediately purged the
Ba'ath party after an unsuccessful coup, killing leftist members. War between Iran and Iraq, primarily over the Shatt al Arab
waterway, erupted full-scale in 1980 (see Iran-Iraq War). The eight-year war became a series of mutual attacks and stalemates,
as both countries' oil production fell drastically, the death toll rose, and great mutual destruction was inflicted. Poison
gas was reportedly used by both sides, and by Iraq on Kurdish villages as the Kurdish rebellion continued. Eventually, a cease-fire
under the auspices of the United Nations led to the war's end in 1988. Iran and Iraq restored diplomatic relations in 1990.
Throughout 1989 and into 1990, Hussein's repressive policies and continued arms buildup caused international criticism,
particularly in the United States, which had favored Iraq during the war with Iran. Hostility against Israel increased, particularly
after Israel's bombing of the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981. Hussein accused neighboring Kuwait in July, 1990, with
flooding world oil markets, causing oil prices to decrease and threatening Iraq's attempts to boost its war-torn economy.
On Aug. 2, 1990, some 120,000 Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait, and Hussein declared its annexation (see Persian Gulf War). Foreigners
in Iraq and Kuwait were held hostage but released after a few months.
The United Nations established international trade sanctions against Iraq, but Hussein did not withdraw his troops. U.S.-led
coalition forces began air attacks on Iraq on Jan. 16, 1991, which led to a ground invasion to retake Kuwait. During this
time, Iraq launched Scud missiles against both Israel and Saudi Arabia. Iraqi forces quickly succumbed to coalition troops
and were forced out of Kuwait. While suffering heavy casualties, Iraq retained its elite Republican Guard, and Hussein remained
in power. UN inspections imposed as part of the conditions for ending the war found evidence of chemical warheads and of a
program to produce materials for nuclear weapons; Iraq destroyed some chemical weapons under UN supervision.
The war left huge amounts of wreckage in the country's major cities and ports and created hundreds of thousands of Iraqi
refugees, who fled to Turkey, Iran, and Jordan. Iraq's major problems were feeding its population and rebuilding its war-torn
country. These problems were aggravated by crippling trade sanctions. The Kurds again rose in revolt despite heavy-handed
Iraqi military attacks, and in S Iraq, Shiites also lashed out against the government. In 1992 the Kurds established an autonomous
region in N Iraq. Two rival factions, the Kurdistan Democratic party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, engaged in sporadic
warfare during the 1990s; in 1999 the two groups agreed to end hostilities.
Confrontations with the United Nations and former coalition members, especially the United States, continued to flare.
In 1993, after Hussein had repeatedly violated terms of the Persian Gulf War cease-fire, bombers from the United States and
other coalition members twice struck Iraqi targets. In Oct., 1994, Iraq massed troops on the Kuwaiti border; the United States
and other coalition members increased their forces in the area, and Iraq withdrew the troops.
In May, 1996, Iraq reached an accord with the United Nations allowing it to sell $1 billion worth of oil every 90 days,
with the money set aside for food and medicine, compensation to Kuwaitis, and other purposes. The program was subsequently
renewed (it ended only in Nov., 2003), and many restrictions on civilian trade were removed, but it also became a means (through
the use of illicit surcharges) for funneling money to Hussein's government.
In Oct., 1997, the UN disarmament commission concluded that Iraq was continuing to hide information on biological arms
and was withholding data on chemical weapons and missiles. U.S. weapons inspectors were expelled from Iraq in Nov., 1997,
and a U.S. military buildup in the Persian Gulf ensued. As Iraq ceased cooperating with UN inspectors, the United States and
Britain began a series of air raids against Iraqi military targets and oil refineries in Dec., 1998; raids against military
targets continued until the 2003 war. In Jan., 1999, the United States admitted that American spies had worked undercover
on the inspection teams while in Iraq, gathering intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs.
A new UN arms inspection plan that could have led to a suspension of the sanctions in place since the end of the war was
devised by the Security Council in Dec., 1999, but Iraq rejected that plan and subsequent attempts to restore inspections.
Efforts in 2001 to ease the sanctions on civilian trade further (in exchange for tighter controls on oil smuggling and a ban
on weapons purchases) proved unsuccessful when Russia, which had close ties with Iraq, objected. Iraq continued to insist
on an end to all sanctions, but in May, 2002, the UN Security Council agreed on revised sanctions that focused on military
goods and goods with potential military applications, greatly expanding the range of consumer goods that could be readily
imported into Iraq.
Suggestions by U.S. government officials that the war on terrorism might be expanded to include operations against Iraq
as well as in Afghanistan were publicly rejected by Arab League nations in Mar., 2002, but increasing threats of a U.S. invasion
to end what Americans asserted was Iraq's development of weapons of mass destruction led Iraq to announce in September that
UN inspectors could return. Iraqi slowness to agree on the terms under which inspections could take place and U.S. insistence
on new, stricter conditions for Iraqi compliance stalled the inspectors' return.
In October, President Hussein won a referendum on a seven-year extension of his presidency, receiving 100% of the vote
according to Iraqi officials. The same month the U.S. Congress approved the use of force against Iraq, and in November the
Security Council passed a resolution offering Iraq a final opportunity to cooperate on arms inspections. A strict timetable
was established for the return of the inspectors and resumption of inspections, and active Iraqi compliance was insisted on.
The Iraqi parliament rejected the terms of the resolution, but inspectors were permitted to return, and inspections resumed
in late November.
An official Iraqi declaration (December) that it had no weapons of mass destruction was generally regarded as incomplete
and uninformative. By Jan., 2003, UN inspectors had found no evidence of forbidden weapons programs, but they also indicated
that Iraq was not actively cooperating with their efforts to determine if previously known or suspected weapons had been destroyed
and weapons programs had been ended. Meanwhile, the United States and Britain continued preparations for possible military
action against Iraq.
Iraq after Saddam Hussein's Ouster
Continued U.S.-British insistence on complete Iraqi cooperation with the UN inspections, and continued Iraqi resistance
to doing so, led the United States and Britain to demand (Mar., 2003) that Hussein step down or face an invasion. On Mar.
19, 2003, the Anglo-American attack began with an airstrike aimed at Hussein personally. Sizable ground forces began invading
the following day, surging primarily toward Baghdad, the southern oil fields, and port facilities; a northern front was opened
by Kurdish and Anglo-American forces late in March. After less than a month of fighting, Hussein's rule had collapsed, and
U.S. and British forces were established in major urban areas.
Hussein survived the war and went into hiding, and guerrilla attacks by what were believed to be Ba'ath loyalists and Islamic
militants became an ongoing problem in the following months, largely in Sunni-dominated central Iraq. The Kurdish-dominated
north and Shiite-dominated south were generally calmer. L. Paul Bremer 3d was appointed as civilian head of the occupation.
UN economic sanctions were lifted in May, 2003 (U.S. sanctions were not ended, however, until July, 2004), and in mid-July
an interim Governing Council consisting of representatives of Iraqi opposition groups was established. Nonetheless, civil
order and the economy were restored at a slow pace. The cost for rebuilding Iraq was estimated by Bremer in late 2003 to be
as much as $100 billion over three years.
In Oct., 2003, the UN Security Council passed a British-American resolution calling for a timetable for self-rule in Iraq
to be established by mid-December. Events, however, led the United States to speed up the process, and in November the Governing
Council endorsed a U.S.-proposed plan that called for self-rule in mid-2004 under a transitional assembly, which would be
elected by a system of caucuses. However, many Shiites objected to this because it would not involve elections; they feared
a diminished voice in the government and greater U.S. influence if caucuses were used to choose the assembly. Hussein was
finally captured by U.S. forces in Dec., 2003.
In Jan., 2004, U.S. arms inspectors reported that they had found no evidence of Iraqi chemical or biological weapons stockpiles
prior to the U.S. invasion; the asserted existence of such stockpiles had been a main justification for the invasion. Subsequently,
a Senate investigation criticized the CIA for providing faulty information and assessments concerning Iraq's weapons. In addition,
U.S. inspectors concluded in Oct., 2004, that although Hussein never abandoned his goal of acquiring nuclear weapons, Iraq
had halted its nuclear program after the first Persian Gulf War. U.S. quietly abandoned their search for weapons of mass destruction
by the end of 2004.
An interim constitution was signed by the Governing Council in Mar., 2004, but many Shiites, including nearly all those
on the council, objected to clauses that would restrict the power of the president and enable the Kurds potentially to veto
a new constitution. At the end of March, Sunni insurgents in Falluja attacked a convoy of U.S. civilian security forces, killing
four and desecrating the corpses, which prompted a U.S. crackdown on the town, a center of Sunni insurgency. The fighting
there in April resulted in the most significant casualties since since the end of the invasion; the conflict ended with the
insurgents largely in place. At about the same time, U.S. moves against the organization of a radical Shiite cleric, Moktada
al-Sadr, led him to call for an uprising. There was unrest in a number of cities in S central and S Iraq, but by mid-April
al-Sadr's forces were in control only in the area around An Najaf, a city holy to Shiites, and a cease-fire took effect in
Revelations in May of U.S. abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in late 2003 and early 2004 sparked widespread
dismay and outrage in Iraq, the United States, and the world. The treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib was termed tantamount
to torture in some cases by the International Committee of the Red Cross in a report leaked in 2004, and in 2005 Amnesty International
accused the U.S.-led forces of using torture in Iraq.
The president of the Governing Council was assassinated in May, 2004. In June, the United Nations endorsed the reestablishment
of Iraqi sovereignty, and at the end of the month, Iyad Allawi, a Shiite, became prime minister and Sheik Ghazi Ajil al-Yawar,
a Sunni, president as the interim constitution took effect. Saddam Hussein and 11 other former high-ranking Iraqi officials
were formally turned over to the new government and were arraigned.
Large-scale fighting with al-Sadr's militia occurred again in August, centered on An Najaf and, to a lesser degree, Sadr
City, a Shiite section of Baghdad, but the militia subsequently abandoned An Najaf and fighting ceased. By October al-Sadr
had shifted to converting his movement into a political force. Also in August, a 100-member National Council, responsible
for overseeing the interim government and preparing for elections in 2005, was established. In central Iraq, where a number
of Sunni urban areas had been all but ceded to insurgents, U.S. forces began operations to establish control in the fall of
2004. Although U.S. forces regained control of Falluja in November, the insurgents subsequently shifted their attacks elsewhere,
including Mosul, which had been relatively peaceful. Shiite targets were also increasingly subject to attack. Estimates of
the insurgents' numbers, including foreign guerrillas, ranged from 8,000 to 12,000; by the end of 2004 the most violent anti-U.S.,
anti–interim government fighters were Sunni forces, which were increasingly dominated by Islamic militants. The ongoing
violence in Iraq continued to hamper reconstruction, as a lack of security hindered rebuilding and security needs diverted
money away from rebuilding.
In the Jan., 2005, elections for the transitional National Assembly, which would write a new constitution, the United Iraqi
Alliance, a Shiite coalition supported by Ayatollah Sistani, won nearly half the vote. The main Kurdish alliance took more
than a quarter. Sunni participation in the vote was, in most areas, very low as a result of boycott and intimidation, leading
some Sunni clerics to denounce the balloting as illegitimate. The main Shiite and Kurdish coalitions agreed to form an alliance,
but it was not until early April that the choices for the top national leadership posts were finalized. A Sunni, Hajim al-Hassani,
became speaker of the National Assembly; a Kurd, Jalal Talabani, became president; and a Shia, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, was chosen
as prime minister.
Hopes for the constitutional process strengthened in July when Sunni membership on the parliamentary committee drafting
it was greatly expanded, but the draft that was adopted had only limited Sunni support. Many Sunnis particularly objected
to provisions that would permit autonomous regions in the Kurdish north and Shiite south, which could limit national access
to future oil revenues from those areas, and that would ban the Ba'ath party and could affect its former members. A referendum
in Oct., 2005, however, approved the document. A simple majority was required for approval, unless three provinces rejected
it by a two-thirds vote. The constitution was strongly endorsed by Shiites and Kurds and as strongly rejected by Sunnis, who
voted in larger numbers this time. Three provinces voted against the constitution, but in one of the provinces the no vote
was less than two thirds. Although there were concerns about possible irregularities in the vote after preliminary counts
were completed, a partial audit of the vote uncovered no evidence of fraud.
Despite these mixed political successes, the insurgency remained largely undiminished, as foreign Islamic militants continued
to infiltrate into Iraq. Ongoing U.S. attempts to eliminate insurgent strongholds were frustrated by the ability to the insurgents
to regroup elsewhere and a lack of sufficient U.S. forces to maintain control throughout Sunni-dominated areas of Iraq. Prior
to the referendum on the constitution coalition forces mounted several offensives against insurgents in Sunni-dominated W
and NW Iraq in an attempt to diminish terror attacks prior to the vote.
In the Dec., 2005, elections for the National Assembly the Sunni turnout was again higher, but when initial results showed
that the Shiite religious parties were unexpectedly successful in the Baghdad area, the Sunni alliance and the secular party
alliance accused the Shiites and electoral authorities of fraud. Final results, released in Jan., 2006, gave a near majority
of the seats to the Shiite religious parties, with the Kurdistan alliance and the Sunni alliance placing second and third.
International monitors said there had been some irregularities and fraud, but they did not call into question the final overall
The formation of a government, however, became protracted, when Sunnis and Kurds objected to the Shiite religious parties'
selection of Jaafari as prime minister. Finally, in Apr., 2006, Jaafari stepped aside, and Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, a long-time
aide of Jaafari's, was chosen for the post. Meanwhile, the devastating Feb., 2006, terror bombing of a Shiite holy site in
Samarra provoked a spasm of sectarian attacks, largely by Shiites against Sunnis, throughout Iraq. Maliki undertook a number
of measures intended to reassert government control and pacify some urban areas, and moved to foster an end to the Sunni insurgency
and sectarian violence generally by releasing prisoners, offering a limited amnesty, seeking to disarm militias, and other
measures. The killing, in June, of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of Al Qaeda–aligned foreign insurgents, was a notable
success for U.S. forces, but did little to diminish the violence in Iraq.