Fund Shift Proposed to Beef Up Security in Iraq
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 15, 2004 The State Department is asking Congress to allow shifting $3.4 billion in Iraq reconstruction funds to help beef up security in the war-torn country.
Marc Grossman, undersecretary of state for political affairs, told reporters here Sept. 14 that a review of spending priorities for the $18.4 billion Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund indicated the shift is necessary.
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq John D. Negroponte; Army Gen. George W. Casey, commander of Multinational Force Iraq; and Army Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, commander of Security Transition Command Iraq developed the plan, Grossman said.
"They faced hard choices, but they decided that without a significant reallocation of resources to the security and law enforcement sector, the short-term stability of Iraq would be compromised and the longer-term prospects for a free and democratic Iraq undermined," Grossman said.
The team's proposal, he added, was subjected to an interagency examination in the U.S. government, and "offers the best way forward to advance our common goal of a stable, secure and democratic Iraq."
Grossman said improved security is key to any reconstruction effort, and accelerating employment opportunities for Iraqis is good for the country's economic and political environment leading up to the January elections. The fund shift will take place as soon as possible after consultation with Congress, he added.
"We think that these reallocations will provide a real chance forward here in creating additional security and law enforcement capacity, additional oil capacity, comprehensive development, debt reduction, accelerated employment and, very importantly as we move toward the election, increases in the ability of Iraqis to have a democracy and govern themselves," Grossman said.