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Rumsfeld: Garner 'Did Absolutely Superb Job' in Iraq

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 18, 2003 – Retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay Garner did a great job organizing the fledgling free Iraqi government and coordinating reconstruction and humanitarian relief efforts in post-war Iraq, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said here today.

Rumsfeld, speaking to Pentagon reporters with the retired general present, praised Garner for "the absolutely superb job that he has done in laying the foundation for the Iraqi people to begin this process of rebuilding from the rubble of decades of Saddam Hussein's tyranny, and to put themselves on a path towards democratic self-government."

Garner served as the director of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance in Iraq. On May 6, 2003, President Bush nominated L. Paul Bremer III to become the civil administrator of Iraq to take over from Garner.

Rumsfeld asserted that Garner demonstrated "superb leadership" in the days and weeks following the April 9, 2003, fall of Baghdad and the removal of Saddam as Iraq's leader.

The defense secretary reviewed Garner's multifaceted mission in post-war Iraq: to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid and basic services; to coordinate relief and reconstruction efforts among U.S., coalition, and non- governmental agencies and organizations; and to begin working with Iraqi leaders to help them start the process of building a free society.

Garner accomplished all of these tasks "exceedingly well," Rumsfeld pointed out.

"Within days" of Garner's arrival in Iraq, Rumsfeld noted, "the power was restored in many areas and work began to initiate (the restoration of) power in the rest of the country."

Today, the defense secretary pointed out, Iraq's water system is operating at about 80 percent of its pre-war level. And some parts of Iraq, Rumsfeld continued, are reporting there's more and cleaner water available than there was prior to the war.

Iraqi teachers and other civil servants are now back at work, thanks to Garner's efforts, Rumsfeld remarked, noting that assets formerly held by Hussein's regime are being used to pay those 2 million people.

In northern and southern Iraq "electrical service is better than it's been in 12 years," the defense secretary noted.

In fact, Iraq's second-largest city, Basra, now "has power 24 hours a day," Rumsfeld said, adding that Baghdad has power averaging between 18 and 20 hours a day.

Lines at Iraqi gasoline stations "are disappearing," Rumsfeld maintained, while production and importation of gasoline in Iraq continues at about 14 million liters a day.

"There has not been a major health crisis" in Iraq since the ouster of Hussein's regime, the secretary pointed out, noting that 12 major hospitals in Baghdad are now functioning. Nor, he added, has there been a humanitarian crisis in the country.

And hundreds of Baath Party members who had worked for the ousted Hussein regime have themselves been removed from their positions in Iraqi government and industry, Rumsfeld reported.

In addition, the defense secretary noted that U.S. and coalition forces are continuing their efforts to root out pockets of die-hard Saddam followers who remain in Iraq.

"In short, the coalition is making good progress" in Iraq, Rumsfeld asserted, noting this was made possible by the "excellent" military plan of Army Gen. Tommy Franks, and "by the terrific leadership of the stabilization effort by Mr. Jay Garner."

Commenting on his recent experiences in Iraq, Garner observed, "Anytime you can do anything to make people free, it's a great feeling and a great thing to do."

The vast majority of Iraqis, Garner observed, are glad Hussein is gone and are very appreciative of American and coalition assistance to get the country back on its feet.

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