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Pentagon Still in Charge in Iraq, Rice Tells Reporters

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15, 2003 – National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said she wants to make "very clear" that the Pentagon is still in charge of post-war Iraq.

During a White House press briefing Oct. 14to detail the President Bush's upcoming trip to Asia, Rice emphasized that her job is to coordinate policy.

"I don't operate, I don't implement. I coordinate policy," she said. "It is the Secretary of Defense who will continue to run the post-war reconstruction, as he has done, and as he has done well."

Her comments came in response to a reporter's question about the Iraq Stabilization Group set up to support reconstruction efforts. Rice said she and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld are in "complete agreement" on who's running the reconstruction efforts.

She emphasized that it's "very clear that the Defense Department and Secretary Rumsfeld remain the lead agency in the reconstruction of Iraq. They are on the ground. Jerry Bremer (U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq) and the CPA (Coalition Provincial Authority) report up through the Pentagon to the president. Nothing has changed in that; nothing was intended to change in that."

Rice said the ISG will provide better support to the CPA in the field, to the Pentagon, and to "make certain that there is good interagency coordination and work so that this reconstruction can go forward."

In further explaining her new role as head of the ISG, she added that since the CPA is on an accelerated reconstruction calendar, "we have to make sure that there are not bottlenecks back here. We have to make sure that we're mobilizing the entire U.S. government. The Treasury Department has an important role to play. The State Department obviously has an important role to play. Justice has an important role to play. We're trying to mobilize the entire U.S. government to support this effort."

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