"The numbers will be much higher if the investigation includes ghost policemen in the Interior Ministry," Iraqi lawmaker Liqaa Wardi told the AP. "I think that the efforts exerted by the current government will face resistance by some corrupt army and security officers who have made gains and fortunes due to the corruption system and the ghost soldiers."
Frank Jourige experienced the ghost soldier phenomenon personally. He left the Illinois Guard five years ago, but discovered last year that he was still on the rolls as a member of a transportation unit in Chicago. Jourige learned he was a ghost soldier after he got a letter from the federal government saying he owed four years' worth of payments on a Guard life insurance policy. He says his credit rating was nearly ruined because someone forged paperwork to keep him on the rolls even though he wasn't getting paid.
call of duty: ghosts the ghost soldier wallpapers and images
Part of the drive to target the ghost soldier corruption is also financial necessity. Plunging oil prices and soaring costs from Iraq's war against the Islamic State group have taken a significant toll on Iraq's economy, prompting government spending cuts, including in defense, which so far constitutes 22 percent of next year's proposed budget, according to Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari.
"I will stand in front of a congressional committee if I have to tell them about this," says Petry, who has been unable to perform his duties as a unit administrator since May because of chronic medical problems. He is due to be discharged early next year. He says the ghost soldiers were being carried on the books to make his infantry company appear combat-ready.