John Howard, the Australian prime minister who sent troops to support U.S. and British forces in the Iraq invasion a decade ago, has criticized U.S. handling of the bloody aftermath of dictator Saddam Hussein's overthrow.

In a speech in Sydney to mark the 10th anniversary of the fall of Baghdad on April 14, Howard on Tuesday said that disbanding the Iraqi Army "was a mistake" and that efforts to remove Hussein's Baath Party from civil service "went too far."

He says in a speech, released by his office, that the American interim administration that replaced Hussein "held sway for too long" and the U.S. cut troop levels too soon.

A staunch ally of U.S. President George W. Bush, Howard angered many Australians by sending 2,000 troops to invade Iraq.