Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee: Your example consistently demonstrates that America’s security concerns transcend party or politics. On behalf of the men and women who serve our country so faithfully and so well, we are indeed grateful for your support. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss with you today the Defense Department’s perspective on stabilization and reconstruction efforts in Iraq.
Our Imperative—Winning the Peace in Iraq: The Stakes are Enormous
Just as the Department was committed to getting right the plan for military operations in Iraq, we are equally committed to getting right the process of helping Iraqis establish an Iraq that is whole, free, and at peace with itself and its neighbors. We are committed to helping Iraqis build what could be a model for the Middle East—a government that protects the rights of its citizens, that represents all ethnic and religious groups, and that will help bring Iraq into the international community of peace-seeking nations. Now that this goal is within sight, Iraq represents one of the first and best opportunities to build what President Bush has referred to as a "just and peaceful world beyond the war on terror."
Saddam Hussein was a danger to his people and a support to terrorists and an encouragement to terrorist regimes. His removal from power opens opportunities to strengthen governments and institutions in the Muslim world that respect fundamental human dignity and protect freedom, and that abhor the killing of innocents as an instrument of national policy. Success in Iraq will continue to demoralize those who preach doctrines of hatred and oppression and subjugation. It will encourage those who dream the ancient dream of freedom. In the last half century, those ideals of freedom and self-government have been the most powerful engines of change in the world. They give us hope for further development in the Muslim world, a development that will benefit every nation throughout the world and bring us important allies in the war against terrorism.
We cannot afford to fail. We cannot afford to allow Iraq to revert to the remnants of the Baathist regime that now range throughout Iraq in their desperate bid for influence and power—or, to see it vulnerable to other extremist elements. As the distinguished Chairman said as recently as Sunday at Notre Dame, "Iraq must not become a failed state and a potential incubator for terrorist cells." We cannot and we will not allow such a threat to rise again—nor can we dash the hopes of the Iraqi people. Make no mistake: recent efforts to destabilize Iraq represent the death rattle of a dying regime. We can defeat them. And we will. As Presidential Envoy Paul Bremer has told me, "If the Baathists have any staying power, let there be no doubt – we have more." We will not stop our efforts until that regime is dead.
Rebuilding Iraq will require similar time and commitment. Mr. Chairman, I’ve just returned from a visit to Bosnia and Kosovo, where my main purpose was to thank our American troops for their dedication and commitment and to assure the authorities in the region that the United States will see our tasks through to completion. To those who question American resolve and determination, I would remind them that we are still playing our crucial role in Bosnia eight years after the Dayton Accord, long after some predicted we would be gone, and we continue to be the key to stability in Kosovo and even in Macedonia.
The stakes in Iraq are even greater than in the Balkans. But if the stakes are huge in Iraq, there is no question that our commitment to secure a peaceful Iraq is at least equal to the stakes. Mr. Chairman, I have noted with strong agreement your statements about the need for America to stay the course in Iraq. I applaud your determination and appreciate your support and the support of this Committee in helping the American people understand the stakes that we have in success.
Mr. Chairman, today marks only day 67 since the start of major combat operations in Iraq. It is only three weeks since President Bush announced the end of major combat operations, and, as I will explain at greater length later, smaller combat operations in Iraq still continue. Even though the war has not completely ended, we are already started on the process of rebuilding Iraq. Several months before the war even began, we established the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance in order to be able to address that task.
As the title of the office implies, much of its early focus was on planning for two disasters that fortunately did not happen: First, to provide humanitarian assistance to a war-ravaged population, including the possible victims of large-scale urban fighting, and secondly, to halt the environmental damage that was anticipated from large-scale torching of the Iraqi oil fields and to begin the reconstruction of that vital national asset. Thanks to the speedy success of the military operation, the task we face has turned out to be very different. There is no humanitarian crisis in Iraq.
The humanitarian problems of war have been largely avoided, in no small measure because of the speed with which the campaign was carried out. However, a great deal of other work remains to be done, most of it anticipated in ORHA’s planning and staffing, work such as restoring rapidly the functioning of the electric power in Iraq and restoring essential medical services. Most of these problems are not primarily a result of the war, but rather the result of decades of tyrannical neglect, where the wealth and treasure of the country was poured into creating palaces, building tanks and procuring weapons of mass destruction, instead of caring for the Iraqi people. That damage has been compounded by widespread looting in the aftermath of the Saddam regime, some of it clearly conducted by surviving elements of the regime themselves. The task before us is more about construction than reconstruction—the building of a society that was allowed to rot from within for more than three decades by one of the world’s worst tyrants. The good news in all of this is that the Iraqi people will be able to notice improvements in their normal lives long before we have reached the full potential of this country—one of the most important in the Arab world.
The level of pre-war neglect and repression was as widespread and as systematic as Saddam’s methods of terror. As the uncovering of mass graves is revealing to a world that should have known before, tens of thousands of Iraqis have been brutally executed by Saddam’s regime. Families, businesses and even cultures were destroyed, as we saw in Saddam’s brutal attempt to wipe out the Marsh Arabs, an ancient people with a remarkable culture in southern Iraq. The latter also represents a horrific act of ecological terrorism, which others are left to fix. The following list suggests the widespread neglect of what we consider basic services, but for Saddam many were used as instruments of control.
Before the war:
- Large numbers of Iraq’s children under five years old suffered from malnutrition;
- Only 60% of the Iraqi people had access to safe drinking water;
- 10 of Basrah’s 21 potable water treatment facilities were not functional;
- 70% of Iraq’s sewage treatment plants needed repair. According to UNICEF reports, some 500,000 metric tons of raw or partially treated sewage was dumped into the Tigris or Euphrates rivers, which are Iraq’s main source of water;
- 80% of Iraq’s 25,000 schools were in poor condition; in some cases, as many as 180 students occupied one classroom—with an average of one book per six students—while at the same time every one of the first 100 or so schools we inspected in Southern Iraq had been used as military command posts and arms storage sites;
- Iraq’s electrical power system operated at half its capacity;
- Iraq’s agriculture production had dropped significantly;
- Iraq’s oil infrastructure was neglected.
Obviously, it will take time to reverse the effects of persistent, systematic neglect. But, if the task is enormous, even at this very early stage, there are many reasons for optimism. Deputy Commander of Central Command, LTG John Abizaid, who also commanded U.S. peacekeeping troops in Bosnia and in Kosovo, reported after a recent visit to Baghdad that we are already much further along in Iraq than we were in either of those two places at a comparable stage. Despite claims that there were no plans for peace operations in the wake of military operations, Presidential Envoy Bremer and Jay Garner are implementing plans drawn up long before the war to strengthen and rebuild Iraq. Assertions that we are already failing – reminiscent of similar assertions that the military plan had taken us into a quagmire just one week into the campaign – reflect both an incomplete understanding of the situation as it existed in Iraq before the war and an unreasonable expectation of where we should be now.
The situation in Iraq right now is difficult—it’s very difficult. But, it was even more difficult a couple weeks ago, and worse yet a couple months before that. We continue to make progress in what was expected to be an extremely difficult situation. As press accounts continue to report what is wrong, I would say, we don’t want less of these reports, we want more—because we are eager to see revelations in the press about what needs our attention. And we’re interested in the opinions of a people who are newly free. If the situation in Iraq is somewhat messy now, it’s likely to seem even messier as Iraqis sort out their political process. But, that is part of self-determination. We expected this period of uncertainty and our plans anticipated it.
However, there is also a great deal of good news, and it is important to report that also. I will be discussing some of it later in my statement, but first let me address what is unquestionably our most immediate challenge, and that is establishing secure and stable conditions throughout the country.
Security is Priority Number One
Our most urgent task in the post-Saddam Hussein era is to establish secure and stable conditions throughout the country. Secretary Rumsfeld reiterated recently, "security remains the number one priority in Iraq" precisely because security and stability are a fundamental prerequisite for everything else we need to accomplish in Iraq—to provide the basics of normal life and services, and beyond that, to create a climate where people can express political views in an atmosphere free of fear and intimidation, something that Iraqis have been unable to do for decades.
Much of what I read on this subject suggests a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of the security problem in Iraq, and in particular, a failure to appreciate that a regime which had tens of thousands of thugs and war criminals on its payroll does not disappear overnight. The people who have created the mass graves that are now being uncovered in Iraq represent a threat to stability that was not eliminated merely when the statues came tumbling down in Baghdad. I have read recently that unnamed officials and experts say that the Pentagon ignored lessons from a decade of peacekeeping operations in Haiti, Somalia, the Balkans and Afghanistan. It seems to me that those speaking anonymously ignore the difference between normal peacekeeping operations and the kind of situation that we are now in.
In just the last 24 hours alone, in Baghdad the 3rd Infantry Division raided a Baath Party meeting and detained 9 Baathists. In Fallujah, which continues to be a hotbed of Baathist activity, some of it with connections to foreign extremists, an Iraqi vehicle attacked a checkpoint of the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment and two enemy were killed and one detained. In the same area, three Iraqi snipers engaged U.S. troops and, in a third incident, a Bradley was disabled by a rocket propelled grenade fired from a mosque. In Baqubah, again in just the last 24 hours, the 4th Infantry Division conducted a raid and captured seven Iraqis and seized 15 million dinars. In Al Kut, a patrol of the 1st Marine Division engaged 20 enemy, killed two, wounded one, and captured 11. There were no U.S. casualties in any of these incidents, but they illustrate the level of continued hostile activity, much of it apparently associated with elements of the old regime.
In short, while major combat operations have ended, American soldiers continue to be shot at almost daily. While we made substantial progress in catching the people on the black list, there is still additional work that needs to be done. We face in Iraq a situation where a substantially defeated enemy is still working hard to kill Americans and Iraqis who are trying to build a new and free Iraq in order to prevent Iraqi society from stabilizing and recovering. Bizarre as it may sound, their goal is to create nostalgia for Saddam Hussein. We cannot allow them to succeed. We need to recognize that this is completely different from Haiti, Bosnia or Kosovo, where opposition ceased very soon after peacekeeping troops arrived in force.
In those situations, we could successfully adopt a strategy that emphasized the intimidating effect of presence, rather than active combat operations. Indeed, the strategy in both those places was to minimize the extent to which we got involved in direct confrontation with any of the local forces. We do not have the choice in Iraq of avoiding confrontation with the repressive elements of the old regime. We have to eliminate them, root and branch. We will do so, but it will take time.
It’s perhaps worth noting that the striking exception in that list of peacekeeping operations is the case of Somalia, where we, in fact, encountered the enormous difficulties of taking on armed elements without adequate force and preparation. This task requires more than just military policemen. There is a very difficult balance to be struck, particularly in Baghdad, between providing ordinary civil order forces on the streets – which we are doing – and being prepared to deal with snipers and armed bands. CENTCOM is making that transition. There are now 45,000 Coalition military personnel in the Baghdad area, approximately 21,000 of whom are actively involved in security operations. In just the last 24 hours alone, the 3rd Infantry Division has conducted nearly 600 patrols, secured 202 fixed sites, and manned 85 checkpoints. The total number of patrolling battalions in Baghdad has increased in just the last 24 hours from 22 to 29. Again, General Abizaid reports from his recent visit that we are already seeing much more commerce, many more people on the street, and much shorter gas lines. In Sadr City—the notorious Shi’a slum in Baghdad that used to be known as Saddam City—the people are already reporting that their conditions are better than before the war. General Pace will be able to comment on that in more detail.
We are making progress. In my most recent conversation with Presidential Envoy Bremer, he reports that, while the security situation is serious – and still imposes severe restrictions on our ability to move freely – Baghdad is not a city in anarchy—shops are open and the city is bustling with traffic. Let me offer some details about our progress in achieving law and order: In Baghdad, some 7,000 Iraqi police are on duty, and reports of looting, curfew violations and gunfire are decreasing. However, one of our principal challenges is that the old Iraqi police are much less able than we had planned. Their leadership was corrupted by the old regime and they were trained to raid people’s homes at night rather than conduct street patrols.
It is also important to distinguish the security situation in different parts of the country. Most of the attention, appropriately, is on Baghdad, and there is no question that Baghdad is one of the keys to the future of the country. We would make a mistake if we saw it as the only one and overemphasized the importance of the capital. For example, the second largest city in the south, Basra, with a population of almost 1.3 million people, most of them Shi’a and overwhelmingly grateful to be free of Saddam’s tyranny, is now stable.
In Nasiriyah, local police are now armed and the force has grown from 350 to over 600. In Diwaniya, 277 Iraqi police officers have been hired, and the coalition is installing two "911" emergency phone lines. A USAID DART team (Disaster Assistance Response Team) recently visited Karbala and according their recent cable, the "city is in the safe hands of the US Marines … who have succeeded in establishing a largely stable and secure environment." This is obviously a good news story, and we’re working to replicate it throughout the country.
Perhaps the single most important factor in achieving a more secure environment is the active engagement and support of the people of Iraq. Members of local populations continue to come forward and provide information about subversive activities and weapons caches.
It is also important to recognize that the situation we face is in no small measure a result of the success of our military plan, which I will discuss in more detail, and the speed with which we were able to collapse the main structures of the regime.
In Northern Iraq, including the two large cities of Mosul and Kirkuk, with a combined population of more than 2.5 million, Major General Dave Petraeus and the 101st Air Assault Division have been largely successful in creating a stable situation. There remain some problems, most significantly those arising out of the property disputes created by Saddam’s policy of Arabization – a kind of slow-motion ethnic cleansing – but we are taking measures to address that. We have already sent a study team led by former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq William Eagleton and including some distinguished experts from Poland, the Czech Republic, and Bosnia, which have had experience with these kinds of problems in the past – to come up with some recommendations about how these problems can be solved by peaceful legal means and discourage the use of force. It also remains the case that there still appear to be some active organized cells of old regime elements in those cities that are still working to attack us and defeat the coalition effort.
Finally, I would note a possibly very significant success story in the relatively smaller city of Karbala (population 500,000), whose significance far exceeds its size. As one of the two holy cities of Shi’a Islam, it has enormous potential for pointing the direction for Iraqi society. There, as already noted, the 3rd Battalion of the 7th Marines has worked effectively with local officials to create what are reportedly excellent conditions of law and order in this key town. A political officer from our Embassy in Kuwait visited Karbala recently and reported that, "With support from U.S. military forces, moderate reformers are engaged in audacious experiment aimed at building democratic rule in one of Shi’ism’s two holiest cities. In cooperation with Civil Affairs Teams from 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, they have achieved notable successes." Karbala’s infrastructure is largely functioning, although problems remain. Electricity service has returned to pre-war levels, and almost all homes have running water. The three local hospitals are open, though they lack many basic medicines and supplies. Marine engineers are busy repairing local schools, hospitals, and the water plant. The local television station is privately owned and relatively unbiased.
Most significantly, in addition to fostering the reestablishment of basic public services, the Marines have supported the emergence of a functional, competent provisional government in Karbala Province that advocates a secular democratic future for Iraq. Significantly, the leadership of this new secular and democratic local government is a religious figure, Shaykh Ali Abdal Hassan Kamuna. He is not only a Said or descendant of the Prophet Mohammed and the member of a prominent local tribal clan, but he is also a member of the local secular intelligentsia. The council elites contains other senior tribal figures, but also five other Saids and representatives of the secular intelligentsia and business world, including a university professor, civil engineer, a merchant, a retired army colonel, several lawyers, sociologists and an ophthalmologist. Religious intelligentsia is represented by a shaykh who endured 12 years in Saddam’s prisons for his part in the 1991 Shi’a uprising.
The fact that a new day has dawned in Iraq was nowhere so evident as the recent Shia pilgrimage in the city of Karbala. For the first time since Saddam’s regime, more than a million Shia pilgrims walked to that holy city without fear and without violence, something that had been illegal for twenty-six years.
It is worth noting the surviving elements of the Baathist regime target not only our troops but also aim at destabilizing Iraqi society. There are indications that some of the most serious looting that is continuing should more accurately be described as acts of sabotage. They seem specifically targeted at making it more difficult to repair those facilities such as power plants that are critical to restoring some of the basic functioning of society.
In judging the success or failure of the military plan for dealing with the aftermath of the collapse of the regime, one cannot judge it against a standard of unachievable perfection. There is no plan that could have achieved all the extraordinary speed of the plan and, at the same time, have been able to flood the country with 100,000 military policemen. Choices had to be made. I think that we made choices that saved both American and Iraqi lives, and prevented damage to the environment and to the resources of the Iraqi people.
It’s also worth pausing for a moment to think about the alternative if we had simply waited for another decade or two until this regime collapsed. Setting aside the horrors the Iraqi people would have suffered in that time and the threat that it would have presented to us and our friends in the region, the eventual collapse of the Saddam regime would almost certainly have created a situation of some anarchy. The difference in what has happened is not only that we ended that threat and that horror sooner rather than later, but we are now in a position, working with our coalition partners and with the Iraqi people, to restore security and stability much faster and more thoroughly than would have happened in our absence.
Planning to Get it Right
Starting in January of this year, we recruited Jay Garner to stand up the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, the first time, to my knowledge, that we have created an office for post-war administration before a conflict even started. It was obviously a sensitive matter, because we did not want to do anything that would undercut the efforts to achieve a diplomatic resolution of the crisis presented by Iraq’s defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 1441. For that reason also, we did not brief key members of Congress in as much detail as we would have liked. We should have ensured that Jay Garner had the opportunity to brief you before he left for the theater. We will work hard to do our best to remedy that situation, including arranging secure videoteleconferences with Presidential Envoy Bremer and Mr. Garner, as appropriate.
Having said that, let me also say that we picked Jay Garner because he had demonstrated at other times in his career, and most significantly when he was a commander in the extraordinarily successful Operation Provide Comfort in Northern Iraq in 1991, a capacity for putting organizations together quickly and energizing them and focusing on getting practical tasks accomplished. The magnitude of his efforts goes underappreciated, in part because so much of his energy was appropriately focused on preparations to handle large numbers of refugees and to put out extensive oil well fires – neither of which, fortunately, happened, in no small measure because of the speedy success of the military plan to which I have now referred several times. It is ironic, in fact, that we seem to be criticized not only for lack of planning but also for too much planning when people complain that we contracted with some corporations – to be able to take on these tasks quickly.
Let me give you further insight into the extent of our planning. An interagency Political Military Cell was formed in July of 2002; an Executive Steering Group was formed just a month later. We began planning efforts for Humanitarian and Reconstruction issues in the fall of 2002. This planning provided the basis for the creation of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, which formally came into existence this past January.
Fortunately, a great deal of that planning turned out not to be needed. And that is, in some measure, because of the military plan. Allow me to briefly discuss the basis for CENTCOM’s plan, and then I will address some of the crises that were averted precisely because of that plan.
Military plan: At the heart of the military plan was the imperative to defeat Iraq’s major combat forces. The emphasis was on speed. We consciously chose to keep our force size relatively small, but packing a powerful punch, limiting the amount of people and materiel deployed on the initial thrust into Iraq. This plan gave great flexibility. These forces quickly plunged deep into Iraq, bypassing a good portion of the country in their push to Baghdad. Despite the fact that Saddam’s regime had strategic warning of an impending attack, because of this swift attack, coalition forces were able to achieve tactical surprise. Beginning the ground war before the major air campaign was another surprise for the Iraqis, since it broke with the expected model of Operation Desert Storm.
In short, we began the war with a timetable the regime did not expect and we combined it with a speed that made it difficult for the regime to react and regroup. The enemy was never able to mount a coherent defense; nor was it able to blow up dams, bridges and critical infrastructure—or use weapons of mass terror—perhaps because it was caught so completely off guard.
In less than three weeks, we were in Baghdad, and, with the toppling of Saddam’s statue, history’s annals tallied another victory for freedom akin to the fall of the Wall in Berlin or the liberation of Paris. Our plan worked even better than we could have hoped. For example, in Baghdad we tried a few armored raids to probe and to shock the Iraqi Army. We hadn’t expected to see resistance collapse in Baghdad completely as a result. When these armored raids actually caused the collapse of Iraqi resistance—before the larger force that was planned for could arrive – we capitalized on our success, and moved into the heart of Baghdad—a decision that testifies to the flexibility of the war plan as well as to its speed.
Not only did this plan achieve its military objectives, this plan saved lives—American lives and Iraqi lives. The unprecedented use of precision not only destroyed the intended military targets, but protected innocent lives and key infrastructure. And as a result, the Iraqi people stayed home; they understood military actions were directed against Saddam and his regime—not against them.
Crises averted: We can also judge the success of the military operation in Iraq as much by what didn’t happen as by what did:
- There is no food crisis in Iraq. Fortunately, we did not need all the humanitarian assistance stocks we had planned for….The coalition is working closely with the World Food Program to reestablish food distribution throughout Iraq.
- There have been no major epidemics. The Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance is working to reestablish a Ministry of Health, and we have seen active cooperation among ORHA, the World Health Organization and the emerging Iraqi Ministry of Health.
- There was no refugee crisis that many predicted would destabilize the region. Due to the accuracy of the military campaign, residents felt safe enough to stay in their homes, contrary to many pre-war forecasts. Those who fled from Saddam Hussein moved in with friends and relatives in secure areas.
- There was no wholesale destruction of oil wells or other critical infrastructure after the war began. Efforts are underway to restore oil production as quickly as possible to provide the Iraqi people with their primary source of revenue.
- The regime did not use weapons of mass destruction
As we continue to study Operation Iraqi Freedom, we will note other important lessons. Above all, we can be confident that a remarkable plan combined with the bravery and skill of American Armed Forces contributed in very great measure to its overall success.
The costs of reconstruction in Iraq are difficult to estimate since many of the problems we face resulted from decades of the regime corruption, mismanagement and tyranny. Damage due to the war was relatively small-scale. There are a number of funding sources that can help Iraq.
First, there is $1.7 billion in formerly frozen Iraqi government assets in the US that the U.S Government vested by Presidential order. Second, about $700 million in state or regime owned cash has so far been seized and brought under U.S. control in accordance with the laws of war, available to be used for the benefit of the Iraqi people.
Third, once Iraqi oil exports resume, those proceeds will be available for the benefit of the Iraqi people.
Under the terms of the proposed UN Security Council resolution, assets from two additional sources would be placed in the Iraqi Assistance Fund. Other countries are called to place in the Fund any Iraqi government assets, or assets that have been removed from Iraq by Saddam Hussein or other senior officials of the former regime, held in their countries. And the remaining balance in the UN’s "Oil For Food" escrow account is to be turned over to the Fund.
There have been public pledges from the international community of more than $600 million under the UN appeal and nearly $1.3 billion in other offers of assistance for the food, health, agriculture, and security sectors. We anticipate other contributions as well, including troop contributions to create Multi-National Divisions of peacekeeping troops.
Finally, Congress has appropriated approximately $2.5 billion for reconstruction efforts. There are also additional authorities that we can draw from if needed, such as the Natural Resources Risk Remediation Fund, which can be used for repairing damage to the oil facilities in Iraq.
As I mentioned earlier, in the city of Karbala, because the presence of U.S. Marines has supported the emergence of a functional, competent provisional government in Karbala province that advocates a secular, democratic future for Iraq. That’s good news—an indication, we hope, of more to come.
If such a sign at the local level is positive, there is cause for optimism on a national level as well. There has already been an acceptance of the idea of a unified Iraq among all Iraqis—Kurds, Arabs, Sunni and Shi’a and members of smaller minorities.
With Presidential Envoy Bremer’s order last Friday that banned senior members of the Baath Party from positions of authority in Iraq, the people of Iraq can be assured that their way forward will not be blocked by remnants of the regime that terrorized them for decades. Baathist remnants and Iranian-oriented theocratic groups constitute, at present, our main concerns with respect to the political reconstruction of Iraq. To deal with these concerns, we must encourage the rest of the Iraqi population to become more politically active and organized. We are confident that neither group constitutes a large segment of Iraqi society – they may have a temporary advantage due to their greater degree of organization, but they can be marginalized as wider and wider swathes of Iraqi society become involved in the country’s political life.
Iraqi Interim Administration: We continue work towards the establishment of an Iraqi Interim Administration, which will assume increasingly greater responsibility for the administration of Iraq. The IIA will draw from all of Iraq’s religious and ethnic groups and will provide a way for Iraqis to begin immediately to direct the economic and political reconstruction of their country.
Over time, the IIA will take control of an increasing number of administrative functions. But the Interim Administration’s most important responsibility will be to set in motion the process leading to the creation of a new Iraqi government, for example, by setting up local elections, drafting a new constitution and new laws. This is a process that foreigners cannot direct; it must be a process owned by Iraqis. Our task is to create the conditions in which they can formulate a process and then pick their leaders freely. An Interim Administration would be a bridge from the initial administration of basic services to an eventual government that represents the Iraqi people.
Iraqi government: In the final phase of our plan, an Iraqi government would assume sovereignty on the basis of elections in accordance with a new constitution. Our intention is to leave Iraq in the hands of Iraqis themselves as soon as we can. As President Bush has said, the United States intends to stay in Iraq as long as necessary, but not a day longer. To those who fear that Baathists and Iranians may intervene when we have left, our message is simple: while it is our intention to withdraw relatively rapidly from Iraqi political life and day-to-day decisions, we will remain in Iraq as an essential security force for as long as it takes. But I would also caution that this process will take time and is also worth getting right.
External political situation: international community, coalition and UN
That so many nations came together speaks to the enormity of the threat posed by a vicious dictator in possession of weapons of mass destruction. The coalition acted to ensure that a regime that places little value on the lives of its own people—or those of others—will no longer be able to possess and pursue—or export—the means of mass terror. A significant consequence of Saddam’s removal is that an industrious, educated people have reason to believe that representative government is within their grasp. The men and women of our American and coalition forces performed their missions with incredible courage and skill, and we are enormously proud of them.
To help Iraq take its place among peace-seeking nations, the international community has a responsibility to ensure this vision becomes a reality. And the coalition is committed to working with international institutions. To date, coalition partners have contributed in great measure to the progress described. Currently, 24 coalition countries are providing military support—some of which is public, some of which is private. Thirty-eight nations have offered financial assistance that totals more than $1.8 billion. Here are a few examples of coalition support:
- Greece has given some 20 tons of clothing and food;
- The Czech Republic has deployed a field hospital to Basra and has send aid conveys with medicine, drinking water, tents and blankets;
- Spain has a 150-person health team in Iraq, and is helping repair water and electrical systems;
- Lithuania has sent orthopedic surgery specialists to Um-Qasr.
- Jordan has sent two field hospitals and Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. have each sent one.
There are many other contributions, and they will be described in the future. Our continued progress will depend on international assistance, including that of the United Nations. To facilitate our goals, we advocate a Security Council resolution that will lift the sanctions from the Iraqi people, define the UN’s role in Iraq, and encourage the greater international community to participate in building a free and peaceful Iraq. This support must be geared for the long haul for, as one Iraqi councilman in Um-Qasr has said, "it will take time. People need to understand that we cannot undo years of Saddam overnight."
Challenges and Successes
We knew that certain systems and services we take for granted here would not exist in a formerly totalitarian regime. And we also knew that we could not fully understand the scope of Iraq’s needs until we were in the country and on the ground. One area that did surprise us, as I mentioned, was the extent of decay in Iraq’s overall infrastructure. The coalition campaign went to great lengths to preserve Iraq’s schools, mosques, hospitals, bridges, dams and roads. But, it has become clear that the Baath regime did not.
As with any plan, we were ready to readjust and recalibrate when we could carefully assess conditions. We are doing that, and have begun addressing Saddam’s legacy of destruction and decay. We began by calling in civilian companies familiar with tackling vast rebuilding challenges. USAID is developing a contractual mechanism to permit immediate action by Bechtel for emergency repair of power facilities. Among other successes we can point to are the following:
- The World Food Program has large stocks of food in Iraq and has plans to bring in each month some 487,000 metric tons; June’s rations are on their way. Although it will be a challenge to distribute the food, we’re working with the WFP manager at CENTCOM to get it done;
- Some Iraqis have more electric service than in the past 12 years. For example, people in Basrah have electricity 24 hours a day. Only Baghdad suffers from electrical shortages above pre-war levels. When the National Grid Backbone is operational later this month, Baghdad will receive excess power from the north and south;
- Primary schools throughout Iraq opened on May 4. Jay Garner is hopeful that secondary schools and universities will open soon;
- Emergency civil servant payments have been made to more than a million civil servants;
- Baghdad’s water system is at 60% of pre-war levels; in some places where there is reliable electric power, there are claims of higher levels of drinkable water than before the war;
- Privately hired stevedores began ship off-loading operations and put rice directly on trucks. Currently, over 1,500 tons per day are off-loaded.
- In a first, the UN will use oil-for-food funds to buy Iraq’s cereal crop.
- In Karbala, the DART team reports that 130 school buildings have been cleared of unexploded ordinance; battalion teams have begun the renovation of five school buildings.
Energy infrastructure: One of the keys to getting Iraq up and running as a country is to restore its primary source of revenue: its oil infrastructure. As with many other facets of life in Iraq, this infrastructure had been allowed to decay to a surprising degree. Fortunately, the coalition plan averted the destruction of many of the oil wells. And a great deal of repair work is underway to ensure operations can safely resume at oil facilities. While the coalition will be involved at the outset, the goal is to have production and marketing responsibility in the hands of a stable Iraqi authority as soon as possible. Iraqi oil operations are now being run by an Interim Management Team, led by Thamir Ghadban, who was a senior Oil Ministry official under the former regime. Ghadban is advised by an American former oil executive and the former head of Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Organization. The Iraqis have demonstrated in the past their skills in operating their energy infrastructure in the face of adversity. We are confident they will do even better now.
The resolution before the UN Security Council will also relieve shortages of gasoline and cooking fuel. The resolution envisions the resumption of oil exports, and provides that revenues be deposited in the Development Fund for Iraq, with transparency provided by independent auditors and an international advisory board.
Decisions regarding the long-term development of Iraq’s oil resources and its economy will be the responsibility of a stable Iraqi government. The United States is dedicated to ensuring that Iraq’s oil resources remain under Iraqi control. Iraq’s resources – including all of its oil – belong to all of Iraq’s people.
Mr. Chairman, let me close by thanking you for holding this hearing and thanking all the Members of the Congress for the outstanding bipartisan support that we’ve had since the beginning of this war. As I noted in my statement, we are still fighting a war at the same time that we are struggling to win the peace. And as you noted in your article today, transforming Iraq will not be quick or easy. And our victory will be based, as you put it so well, on the "kind of country we leave behind." The stakes for our country and for the world are enormous, and the continued commitment of the Congress and the American people is essential. I appeal to you and your colleagues for your continued support and leadership in this historic effort.