Pentagon study urges more Iraq funds...

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Posted by Sadie from ? ( on Friday, July 18, 2003 at 12:28PM :

... to fatten wallets of war-mongers' corporate-backers!
Pentagon study urges more Iraq funds
MSNBC News Services
July 18, 2003

U.S.-led reconstruction efforts in Iraq must be "supercharged" with more people and funding, a Pentagon advisory panel says. The Defense Department agency overseeing the rebuilding has made progress, "but it lacks the resources, personnel and flexibility to move into the next stage of the mission," according to a new report.

DEFENSE SECRETARY Donald H. Rumsfeld asked the five experts to visit Iraq and offer suggestions on how to improve the rebuilding effort. The team's leader was John Hamre, the No. 2 official in the Pentagon under President Clinton and the head of the independent Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The report, released Thursday, said the Coalition Provisional Authority needs to work quickly to avoid losing the trust and support of Iraqis. Coalition troops will need to stay in Iraq for at least two to five years to back up the fledgling Iraqi police and military, the report said.

It counseled better communication between the authority and Iraqis and within the authority itself. "Under the current setup, the CPA is isolated and cut off from Iraqis," the report said.

It also recommended a "supercharged" effort to get other countries to provide people, money and other aid. "Relying on the war coalition will not produce sufficient resources or capacity," it said.

A spokesman for Rumsfeld said the Defense Department welcomed the Hamre team's suggestions and was studying the report.

"We agree with the assessment there has been enormous progress since the removal of the Saddam Hussein regime and significant challenges lie ahead," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. "We might put into practice elements of the findings as appropriate."

Among other the steps called for in the Hamre team's report:

A review of the number and tasks for U.S. and coalition troops in Iraq, particularly those providing security. Too many troops are stuck guarding fixed sites instead of patrolling the streets, the report said.

A public works program to give Iraqis jobs and keep them out of trouble.

Setting up CPA offices, staffed with 20 to 30 people, in each of Iraq's 18 provinces. "Implementation is lagging far behind needs and expectations in key areas," partially because the CPA has too few employees at the regional level, the report said.

Changing the rules to give the CPA more flexibility to spend money "without project-by-project oversight from Washington."

Iraq could be ready to hold elections as early as next year, the U.S. administrator said Thursday. The timetable for elections would be driven by the speed with which the Iraqis write and ratify a new constitution, L. Paul Bremer said. However, one obstacle to the organization of Iraqi elections is the fact that Iraq has not conducted a credible national census since 1987, Bremer said. A United Nations expert on voter registration will visit Iraq to advise the administrator on how registration could be done nationally in lieu of a full census.

Former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik said Thursday he is making progress toward re-establishing an Iraqi police force. He said that about 30,000 Iraqis who were policemen under Saddam's government have returned to work and are going through a retraining course, to include human rights instruction. So far 34 police stations have been reopened in Baghdad, and the goal is 60, he said.

Bechtel Corp., a key contractor in the rebuilding of Iraq, said Thursday it had completed its first project, a 1.86 mile bridge bypass on a major highway in western Iraq. Bechtel, the San Francisco construction company, said the construction was completed largely by its subcontractor, the Al-Bunnia Trading Co of Baghdad. Privately held Bechtel, which in April was awarded a contract worth up to $680 million over 18 months to rebuild key infrastructure in Iraq, has said it is trying to assign at least 50 percent of the work to Iraqi companies.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

-- Sadie
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