Washington, Sept. 25 (Reuters): The United States has asked the Iraqi Opposition to prepare lists of candidates for possible military training in tasks that would help US forces invade Iraq and overthrow President Saddam Hussein, Iraqi Opposition sources said today.
“They are saying maybe 5,000 to 10,000 people,” said one Opposition source, who asked not to be named. The number accepted may turn out to be much lower because only a small proportion would qualify on security and fitness grounds. An Iraqi Opposition source in London said the United States was offering training in combat fighting, but US-based sources said most candidates would train to be translators, liaison officers, military police and possibly forward air controllers, who need a knowledge of local conditions.
The Iraqi National Congress (INC), the Opposition umbrella group, has been working on lists for weeks as the Bush administration began to prepare US public opinion for the possibility of war to overthrow the Baghdad government.
The next stage would come when the Bush administration tells Congress how much it plans to spend on the training. Iraqi Opposition chiefs were once characterised by a US general as “silk-suited, Rolex-wearing guys in London”.