Wolfowitz Arrives in Baghdad for Meetings, Troop Visits
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Jun. 16, 2004 Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz arrived here in the Iraqi capital before dawn this morning to visit with troops and with Iraqi and coalition leaders.
A senior defense official speaking on background said this trip is one of a series of periodic visits "to get a first-hand appreciation of the situation on the ground and to better understand the things that our troops need to help support them."
An important topic of discussions with coalition and Iraqi leaders will be efforts and funding to train and equip Iraqi defense forces. The official said money has been flowing to this project, and the results are noticeable.
In the past month, 20,000 weapons, 1,500 vehicles, 9,000 radios, 11,500 sets of body armor have been delivered to Iraqi security forces.
By the end of June, Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the American Army general in charge of training Iraqi defense forces, has said the total value of contracts let for Iraqi security forces' equipment will total $3 billion, according to the defense official.
Particularly significant, he said, is that roughly $1 billion of that $3 billion is Iraqi funds.
The Iraqi government has pledged about $20 billion half from oil revenue and half from money received under the U.N.-administered oil-for-food program to funding the Iraqi government and reconstruction.
This total includes the salaries for 350,000 teachers and 100,000 doctors, $1 billion of improvements to electricity infrastructure on top of U.S. efforts, and small-scale projects.
This afternoon, Wolfowitz visited the headquarters of the Army's 1st Cavalry Division, which is deployed from Fort Hood, Texas. The unit assumed responsibility for the Baghdad area from 1st Armored Division.
Division Commander Maj. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli briefed Wolfowitz on the activities and goals of the division's five maneuver brigades in and around Baghdad.
The division is working to balance the dueling goals of combat operations and rebuilding infrastructure while promoting Iraq's legitimate national government, a senior division officer said.
The 1st Cavalry Division has suffered 44 soldiers' deaths since arriving in Baghdad. More than 500 soldiers have been wounded, a division official said.