U.S., Coalition Plan to Restore Post-War Iraq
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2003 Once Saddam Hussein's regime is history, the United States and its coalition partners will pitch in to help the Iraqi people restore their country, Douglas J. Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy, said on Capitol Hill today.
The United States aspires to liberate Iraq, not occupy it, Feith told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "Iraq belongs to the Iraqi people. Iraq does not and will not belong to the United States, the coalition or to anyone else," he said.
A U.S.-led coalition cannot take military action to eliminate the Iraqi threat to the world "and then leave a mess behind for the Iraqi people to clean up without a helping hand," he said. "That would ill serve the Iraqis, the United States and the world."
If there is a war, the United States would be committed to stay in post-war Iraq as long as necessary to help restore stability and would be determined to leave as soon as possible.
"We're going to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and likewise the terrorist infrastructure; safeguard Iraq's territorial integrity; and begin the process of economic and political reconstruction," Feith said.
Eliminating weapons of mass destruction would be a huge undertaking, he noted. It would involve securing, assessing and dismantling Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities, facilities and stockpiles.
Defense officials are preparing for the task, he said. U.S., U.N. and coalition officials, along with the new Iraqi government, would begin by first locating Iraq's widespread weapons of mass destruction sites and then rapidly and safely disabling them so they're not a threat to coalition forces. They would then have to dispose of nuclear, chemical, biological and missile capabilities and infrastructure.
How much time will it take? "We can't now even venture a sensible guess," Feith said.
Once Iraq is liberated, U.S. and coalition forces also would help provide humanitarian relief, organize basic services and work to establish security for the liberated Iraqis. Feith said the United States would encourage coalition partners, nongovernmental organizations, the United Nations and other international organizations to contribute to the effort.
As the Iraqi people put political and other structures in place to provide food, security and other necessities, he added, the United States and coalition partners would want the Iraqis to run their own affairs.
"Our goal is to transfer as much authority as possible, as quickly as possible, to the Iraqis themselves," he said. On the other hand, he added, the United States wouldn't try to foist off burdens on those who are in no position to carry or manage them.
The sooner reconstruction is accomplished, he said, the sooner the coalition would be able to withdraw and the sooner the Iraqis would regain complete control of their country.
The immediate responsibility for administering a post-war Iraq, Feith said, would fall on U.S. Army Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of U.S. Central Command and commander of U.S. and coalition forces in the field. A new office within the Defense Department would help coordinate the reconstruction effort.
On Jan. 20, President Bush directed the creation of a post-war planning office within Feith's policy organization in the Pentagon. The Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, staffed by officials from departments and agencies throughout the government, is considered an "expeditionary office."
"In the event of war, most of the people in the office will deploy to Iraq," he said.
The charter for the new office includes planning and implementation. "The intention is not to theorize, but to do practical work," Feith said. The office will establish links with U.N. agencies and nongovernmental organizations that will play a role in post-war Iraq, as well as counterpart offices in the governments of coalition countries and various free-Iraqi groups.
For several months, he noted, an interagency working group has been doing contingency planning for humanitarian relief. It has established links with U.S. Central Command, U.N. agencies and nongovernmental organizations involved in relief efforts.
The working group has developed a concept of operations for U.N. and nongovernmental groups to provide aid. The group would also establish civil- military operations centers so U.S. forces could coordinate providing relief and restart the U.N. ration distribution system, using U.S. supplies until U.N. and NGO supplies could arrive.
Other interagency groups are planning to vet current Iraqi officials to determine with whom U.S. officials should work, and they're also working on post-war elimination of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
The function of the new Defense Department office is to "integrate all of these efforts and make them operational," Feith said. "It is building on the work done, not reinventing it."