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DoD Assists Iraq in Establishing Inspectors General System

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 19, 2005 – American dreams of a free and sovereign nation were at rock bottom at Valley Forge, Pa., in February 1778 when Baron Von Steuben, a battle-tested former Prussian Army officer who had served on the General Staff of Frederick the Great, arrived in camp to bring organization and professionalism to the Continental Army.

Von Steuben, recruited by U.S. Minister to France Benjamin Franklin, taught the raw American militiamen how to fight as a disciplined body. The Prussian was later appointed as the first inspector general of the Army, noted Deane Williams, the DoD IG office's chief of special projects in the Inspections and Evaluations Directorate.

Congress directed Von Steuben "to report all abuses, neglect and deficiencies to the commander in chief" of the Continental Army, Gen. George Washington, the future first president of the United States.

The original concept of a military staff organization that focused on tactical competence and discipline has evolved and spread from the Army to all military services. The concept was further modified and extended into the federal government with the IG Act of 1978, which created inspector general offices that seek out fraud, waste and abuse, Williams said.

Today, Iraq is also seeking to become a free, democratic country, Williams pointed out. And as when America fought for its freedom, Iraqis too want a professional army and a government free from corruption, he said. L. Paul Bremer, the former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, signed the law establishing the new IG system in Iraq, Williams said.

Since then, DoD, the U.S. State Department, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, and other agencies have teamed up to help the Iraqis establish an IG system across their new government, Williams noted. There are now 31 inspectors general within the Iraqi government, including Ministry of Defense Inspector General Layla Jassim Al-Moktar.

Moktar, who was here during the week of July 11 to meet with DoD, State Department and other U.S. officials, knows and works with the other Iraqi inspectors general.

When now-jailed former dictator Saddam Hussein seized power in Iraq in 1979, he instituted a murderous regime rife with corruption and nepotism. Moktar said the purpose of Iraq's new IG system is to erase Saddam's legacy of corrupt government.

To achieve this goal the new Iraqi government "needs highly qualified people with known experiences of administration," Moktar said. She said she invites Iraqis with government experience now living abroad to come home and "become a very important part of Iraq."

A current challenge to Iraq's new government is the issue of continuity, Moktar said, noting that national elections are slated for December 2005. "Hopefully, after the elections in December, there will be a government that will stay for four years or maybe five years," she noted.

The establishment of inspector general offices across the new Iraqi government is expected to greatly assist in dissipating Iraqi citizens' distrust of government caused by the corrupt Saddam years. Corruption in the new Iraqi government would negatively impact its legitimacy in the world and jeopardize democratic rule in the country, he said.

He noted the Iraqi Anti-Corruption System consists of a Commission on Public Integrity, for criminal investigation oversight; a Board of Supreme Audit, for government audit oversight; and an Inspector General System, for ministry audits, investigations, and inspections.

During her visit here, Moktar spoke about the proposed formalization of Iraq's new inspector general organization in a speech before the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency. The council's mission is to address integrity, economy and effectiveness issues within individual government agencies and increase the professionalism and effectiveness of IG officials and staff throughout the government.

DoD Inspector General Joseph E. Schmitz, who'd met with Moktar last June in Baghdad prior to the transfer of sovereignty, and during her recent visit at his office in Pentagon City, saluted the senior Iraqi official for "her courage and her commitment both to integrity and to the IG system in the new Iraqi government."

Schmitz also noted that Moktar "plays an active leadership role as a liaison" with the other Iraqi inspectors general.

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