(Video-teleconference briefing from Baghdad, Iraq. Participating were Army Maj. Gen. Carl Strock, deputy director of operations for the Coalition Provisional Authority, and Andrew Bearpark, director of regional services for the Coalition Provisional Authority.)
Bryan Whitman [deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs (media operations)]: Well, thank you again for joining us early this morning.
Today we would like to bring into focus some of the many efforts under way in Iraq to improve the infrastructure and services in and around Baghdad. And with us today from Baghdad are two individuals that are deeply involved in those activities and are leading the coalition efforts in that regard.
Major General Carl Strock is a professional military engineer with decades of experience with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He currently is the deputy director of Operations for the Coalition Provisional Authority.
With him is Mr. Andy Bearpark, who is a veteran overseas development and humanitarian aid official for the British government, with experience in field postings all over the globe. He serves as the CPA's director of Regional Services in Baghdad.
And yes, they did return to the camera. With that, gentlemen, I will turn it over to you. And I think you might want to say something before we get into the questions.
Strock: Yes, thank you very much. As you said, I'm Major General Carl Strock. My normal job is director of Civil Works for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Here in Baghdad I'm currently serving as deputy director of Operations for the Coalition Provisional Authority.
I'd like to spend a few minutes here talking about Iraq's infrastructure, the challenges that it presents and the progress we've made since the end of war. I'll then turn it over to Mr. Bearpark, who will talk more about where we're headed from this point.
We have an enormous job here to do to help rebuild this country. Combat damage was comparatively light, due to careful targeting and the use of precision weapons. But the real problem here is decades of neglect to this infrastructure, lack of investment in operations and maintenance, and also the looting and sabotage that's occurred since the end of fighting.
We've made incredible progress in the last 12 weeks since the war ended. We are engaged in a very wide range of reconstruction and rehabilitation projects all over the country. In the last six weeks, we've committed almost a billion dollars in several thousand projects, from high-impact, relatively low-cost things that brigade commanders are doing out in the field to large infrastructure investments that will have a huge impact on the future.
When I say "we," I'm talking about the collective efforts of the coalition military, the U.S. Agency for International Development and their British counterpart, DFID. We're talking about the private sector, nongovernmental organizations. But most importantly, we're talking about the Iraqis themselves. We have found here that the Iraqi public servants are wonderfully competent and remarkably committed to serving the Iraqi people. They have worked under some very, very tough circumstances both during and after the war, and yet they continue to stay at their posts and provide services to the people. It really has been gratifying.
What I'd like to do now is just run through each of the sectors very quickly, and at the end of this I'll take whatever questions you have on any detail.
Electricity is probably the most important thing we're doing right now, because without it, nothing else works in the country. It's an antiquated system. It's basically 1960s technology. It's an amalgamation of systems that, due to a number of circumstances, the Iraqis have not had a consistent investment approach, and they have a wide variety of manufacturers and types of systems that make up the electrical system. Hence, it is very complicated and difficult to maintain.
The capacity of this system is about 7,800 megawatts. And the real important figure here is the fact that due to its age and condition, they can only generate about 4,500 megawatts. The national demand right now is about 6,000 megawatts, and so you can see that right away, there will be shortages of electricity. And this always has been for the Iraqi people. It's something they're used to. So that just means that we have to do a program of load shedding, which essentially is rolling blackouts, so that people have their power cut off at different times during the day. It's very difficult to control because the control systems they did have in place were largely looted and destroyed following the war. The distribution system which moves power around the country is also very unstable and not very reliable, so it's difficult for us to give any predictability to the Iraqi people about when their power will be on or when it will be off.
The fuel system is also in fairly poor condition. They rely heavily on the oil industry and direct feeds from refineries to power the generators. And with the shutdown of the oil system and also the lack of maintenance in that system, getting fuel to the generators has been a real challenge to us.
So, as I say, we have accomplished quite a bit here. On 12 April when we arrived in the city of Baghdad, it was a complete blackout. And through a very, very complex process, working with the Iraqis, we were able to bring up the electrical system. We now have 39,000 electrical workers back on the job. We have today about 3,200 megawatts of power being generated, and by the end of the month we'll have about 4,000, which is about where they were pre-war. We should continue to see rises in power as we make additional investments and repairs in the system. We've also reconnected the national grid, which has been very important in moving power around the country.
Where water and foods are concerned, again, the electrical system is the real key there to power pumps and move the commodities through the system. Here in Baghdad, before the war we were getting about 200 million liters -- I'm sorry, 2,000 million liters per day of drinking water, right now we're about 1,400, and we should be back to 2,000 in the next three months or so.
In the southern part of the country, about 60 percent of the people in the urban population have access to drinking water, and about 30 percent of the rural population. Those are about the numbers they had pre-war. But we are going to continue to improve on those, and we think we'll get it up to about 80 percent by the end of October. No one is really going without water. We are supplementing with tankers, wells and river water to purify, and feed the people.
Sewage is a big problem, especially here in Baghdad. None of the sewage here in the city is being treated, because of damage to the sewage treatment plants following the war. It's going to be several months before we are able to get up any level of sewage treatment. This certainly has some down-river consequences, which we're very sensitive to, but so far we haven't had any significant outbreaks of disease as a result of that. Our big challenge is just to continue to move the sewage through the system.
Roads and bridges. The highway network here in Iraq was in fairly good shape before the war. It did suffer some neglect, and that's been, really, the focus of our effort, is to maintain some of those damaged sections of road. Thirty highway bridges were knocked down during the war, by both us and the Iraqis. Ten of those are very high priority, and we're building on five of them right now. The other five are being covered by temporary military bridging. So no real significant issues on roads and bridges at the moment.
The rail line is an important transportation network for the Iraqis. They moved all commodities from their port of Umm Qasr all the way up to Mosul in the north. That line is now open. There is one section of the road that is being worked on, about a 70-kilometer stretch south of Nasiriyah, so we're investing about $20 million in doing that.
The ports, both air and sea ports, obviously, are very important as we get the country back on its feet. The port of Umm Qasr is open and, in fact, has a higher capacity than it's had in many years. We're dredging the port, removing wrecks, and we've got it pretty much down to 12.5 meters. So we can get deep-draft vessels in here to bring in relief supplies and begin to stimulate the economy. We're also quite busy removing wrecks that are in the waterway there.
Air traffic should be reinitiated here in about two weeks. It will be the first time we've had commercial air traffic here coming into Baghdad in 12 years, so it's a big event for the people. It will then be followed very closely by the airport at Basra opening, and then eventually up at Mosul in the north.
In irrigation, agriculture is very important to the people here. And again, that system has suffered from years of neglect. And we have a specifically focused program to put people back to work in the irrigation sector. So we're going to have about 100,000 people at work over the next couple of months clearing about 5,500 kilometers of irrigation system.
We've surveyed the major dams throughout the country. We found some structural problems, which we're addressing with the Army Corps of Engineers and with USAID. We've restarted a number of irrigation projects that were put on hold for various reasons.
We're also doing a significant amount of environmental work and investigation, particularly down in the Mesopotamian marshes, in the Shi'a area. This is a very social and -- socially and politically charged issue. Saddam drained the marshes down there in -- as a way of punishing the Shi'as and essentially changed a thousand -- many thousand-year-old culture in the process. He has also, in the process, caused us problems with fresh water down in the Basra area. So we're looking into how we can restore those marshlands.
The communications network was -- really took some beating during the war. We are currently replacing four switches in Baghdad. We're putting in a international gateway, and we're putting in a fiber- optics backbone, which would connect about 75 percent of the users in the nation here with access to telephones.
Government buildings have been a huge problem for us, especially here in Baghdad, but throughout the nation, with hospitals, schools, police stations, fire stations and so forth. So we've (got ?) a very, very large effort, about $150 million so far, in putting those facilities back on line.
One of the most important ones is -- are the schools, and we're going to fix about 1,350 schools in 12 different cities over the next few months. So when they open schools in the fall, the children will have a much better learning environment. And in the process, we'll put about 1,500 people to work on those jobs.
The oil infrastructure I won't spend a great deal of time on, but simply to recognize that like electricity, without oil, this company -- this country does not run. Again, we are gratified with the small amount of damage done to the oil fields. They had a wonderful military campaign that was able to capture the system impact, in spite of some of the Iraqis' attempts to destroy it. But the oil infrastructure also suffers from looting and vandalism following the war.
We're pleased to announce that we had the first oil out of Turkey on the 20th of June and out of Mina al-Bakr terminal here in Iraq on the 28th of June. So the system is now up and functioning. We're able to produce about 800,000 barrels of crude a day. And by the fall, we should break the million-dollar -- million-barrel mark and begin to really stimulate the economy here.
Let me close by just saying a few words about security. I know there's been a lot of reporting about this lately. There have been attacks, and this is not surprising or unexpected. As conditions improve, the opposition is going to get more and more desperate in their attempt to destabilize the country and to discredit the coalition and our efforts here to put the nation back on its feet.
We have in recent weeks put a lot more effort into security of infrastructure, particularly the linear lines of communications for power and oil, and I think we're beginning to see the benefits of that.
I think these saboteurs fail to recognize that these are really viewed by the Iraqis as attacks on the Iraqi people, not on the coalition, and increasingly, they are alienating the people they're trying to gain the support of. So hopefully that'll be something that they recognize here pretty quickly and they'll turn their attention elsewhere.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to share with you some of the challenges and successes we've had here. With that, I'll turn it over to Andy, and I look forward to taking your questions. Thank you.
Bearpark: Okay. Good afternoon. My name's Andy Bearpark, and I'm the director of Operations here for the CPA. I just want to follow on from General Strock with a few remarks about the wider context and the context going a little bit further out in terms of time.
The first point I'd make is that we've always got to remember that the reconstruction we're talking about is nothing really to do with war damage. What we're talking about is 30 years of criminal neglect of maintenance, and then we have the criminally and politically motivated sabotage of the last few weeks. Problems like that are going to take a while to put right. We're talking several years to build a new power station. You can't just build one overnight. So we've got to work, and we've got to work with the people of Iraq to get those long-term improvements.
Now the coalition already has an excellent record. There are many, many immediate achievements of which people can be proud. But what we've got to do is move forward and move onward to get these bigger economic improvements. That's going to take several years.
But we haven't been idle during these last few months. As well as doing the immediate emergency projects, the ones that General Strock's been describing, we've also been doing the big engineering assessments to see what's going to be required. And so we're now ready, over the next few weeks, to move in, if you like, that second phase of things where the benefits will be visible in months and years ahead -- in other words, building new transmission lines, getting things up and running that have never run before, putting in new bits to the water system. And that's a big effort. It's going to require a lot of money. But most of all, it's an effort that comes with the Iraqi people. It's not something that we can do by ourselves.
And those projects that'll be coming under way have a long-term economic benefit, yes, but they also have a short-term economic benefit, in that they'll be providing tens of thousands of jobs immediately to the people of Iraq.
So we do have progress on infrastructure, and we do have a path forward. But it's not just about infrastructure. That's important, but what we're doing is looking at Iraq as a whole, and we're moving forward on political issues; on, if you like, social issues; and on economic issues. And I'll just give you three of the examples of where things really are moving forward.
The 32 members of the Baghdad Interim City Advisory Council took up their posts today. They've been elected -- they've selected in a fair and transparent manner, the first time that's ever happened in this place. So that's real political progress.
We've got a rewards program up and running, not just for Saddam Hussein, but also for information on others who are attacking the coalition, who are sabotaging utilities. I know that Bernie Kerik, the ex-New York police commissioner, was describing one part of that program the other day. We've got a whole program like that that's moving forward now.
And just a few moments ago, the administrator, Ambassador Bremer, announced the introduction of the new Iraqi bank notes that will be coming in in October.
So infrastructure is vitally important, but it's part of the overall structure of the Iraq that we're helping to build against a background of all of those years of neglect and oppression. So yes, an awful lot has been achieved already, and we're on the right path to achieve more. Yes, there are going to be problems. There are going to be problems all the time. But we're moving forward at the moment and that's the way it's going to continue.
Thanks very much.
Whitman: Let's go ahead and get started with some questions. Charlie?
Q: General and Mr. Bearpark, this is Charlie Aldinger with Reuters. I'd like to get a better picture of the oil exports, if you could.
In terms of money for Iraq, what -- the 800,000 barrels-a-day exports which you say are going out now, what does that mean? And you say that will go up to 1 million. How does that compare to what Iraq will be able to export in the days ahead -- in the years ahead? Sorry.
Strock: Charlie, we're actually producing about 800,000 barrels of oil today. Iraq uses about 20 percent of that for internal consumption through the refineries. We are not at the moment exporting any of that oil. We sold about 7.5 million barrels to Turkey at the end of June, and we emptied the storage banks at Mina al-Bakr here just recently. So we're now in the process of recharging the storage tanks.
In terms of the ultimate capacity, we think that we can get up to over 2 million barrels per day -- 2.2, 2.5, something like that -- in about a year's time. And that is about the normal export level that the Iraqis have been accustomed to.
Q: What does that mean in terms of money? How much did Turkey pay for the 7.5 million barrels?
Strock: Well, I think the price is somewhere in the 21, 22 dollars per barrel. So, you know, it's a -- I think they sold about $200 million worth of oil. The proceeds from the oil flows will go into the Iraqi development fund, the Development Fund of Iraq, which is a U.N. fund that's been set up. And it will be administered by the administrator here. I think that if -- our projections are that for the remainder of the year, if we can continue to make improvements as they now stand, Iraq should realize about $5 billion by the end of this year.
Q: General, Tom Bowman with the Baltimore Sun. Could you expand a little bit on what you said about there's a lot of effort on the security, the infrastructure? Can you talk about the numbers of soldiers that have this duty, or percentage of soldiers? And you could also get into the sabotage as well. Are you seeing an increased amount of sabotage? Has it plateaued, or has it decreased because of the added soldiers for the security situation?
Bearpark: Well, I think I got your question. But forgive me, I missed a bit of it. When we talk about sabotage, at the moment we're talking about the sabotage of public utilities. We're talking about hundreds and hundreds of miles of power cables, hundreds and hundreds of miles of pipelines and all the associated facilities. And there just aren't enough tanks in the world to put one tank on every electricity pylon. So when we look at security for that system, what we're looking at is a holistic approach. We're looking at the incredible efforts being made by the U.S. military and other coalition forces. But we're also looking at local Iraqi security forces, the new Iraqi police force, in due course we're looking at the new Iraqi security force as well, but also we're looking at the ordinary Iraqi people, because the only way you can protect a system of that size in any country in the world, but obviously here, is by the whole network of everything from starting at the top with security forces to getting right down to the bottom to having people who will give you a tip-off and say, Look, I've heard that somebody may be thinking of attacking that facility, or, I've heard this rumor or that rumor. So what we've got at the moment is that integrated network of, if you like, components coming together to increase the protection against sabotage. It's a complicated network, and some bits of it only come out fairly slowly. And the new Iraqi police force is only now beginning to be stood up. So the U.S. forces and the other coalition forces are taking a large share of the burden that the moment, but the other bits of it are coming into being now.
Strock: May I also add that another aspect of security is to reduce the vulnerability of the systems through these investments we're making. As I said, it's a very fragile system, does not have a lot of redundancies, so when it does get attacked, it can have catastrophic impact. So the work we're doing in making these investments will make the infrastructure less vulnerable to attack. And we're also putting into place a response mechanism with the Iraqi work crews to be able to respond quickly and get things back on line when we do have interruptions of utilities.
Q: With these incidents of sabotage, can you quantify that in any way? And also, how many more U.S. troops are being dispatched for this kind of duty, either the numbers or a percentage?
Bearpark: Just in terms of the incidents in sabotage, we've been seeing increasing sabotage over the last few weeks. I haven't seen any increase over the last few days. But I think we may now be seeing -- I don't want to be too optimistic too soon, but I think we may be seeing ordinary Iraqi people assuming that this activity is actually directed at them, not at us -- that they're the ones who have been suffering from lack of electricity or lack of water. So I think we may -- I hope we may -- we're beginning to see that sort of reaction now, so maybe we'll see a stronger reaction against sabotage.
In terms of numbers, I mean,I don't go in for numbers . This is the network of all the things that have to come together. And the point I'd like to emphasize is that there's no point in protecting one thing and protecting it incredibly well. When you've got such an amazing network and such an array, what you've got to do is have the overall thing. If you protect one bit too well, all that happens in the saboteurs can go somewhere else. So it's this network of levels of security that's important to us.
Q: Sir, Martha Raddatz from ABC News. You talk about this network of security and the sabotage and that the Iraqi people are now thinking these attacks are against them. What is it you expect them to do about that?
Bearpark: What I expect is that people will begin to take responsibility, insofar as they can, for the results of these things. The very easy example I was given a few moments ago was that, say, a couple of weeks ago, if somebody had information about possible sabotage, the odds were that they still felt too afraid to come and tell us about that. Now, I sense that they're becoming a bit more confident, so they're prepared to come along and face the coalition to give us that information, which enables us to prevent that piece of sabotage taking place before it actually does. That's where I think we're seeing a change.
I -- so I don't want to be too optimistic. It may take a bit longer, because when you've lived in a repressive regime for so long, it takes a while to understand that you can speak freely. In the beginning, people were bound to think, "Well, we've had this awful regime, where we didn't dare speak openly. Surely we can't now." But I think now ordinary Iraqis are beginning to sense that they can talk to the coalition and that we can then use that information for their benefit.
Q: Basically, they're not expected to do any sort of security or police themselves. It's -- this is basically if they know of some sort of sabotage attack -- they're sort of your intelligence network, in other words.
Bearpark: Yeah, I'm certainly not expecting the ordinary Iraqi housewife or worker to go out there and fight off a saboteur. When I talk about the network, I'm saying that people like that, ordinary people, can certainly pass on information. Then I'm saying that in the other extreme, you've got U.S. troops; that in between, you've got an awful lot of other levels. You've got the security guards who are now being employed by the ministries themselves to protect some facilities. You've got the Iraqi police. So what I'm saying is that you've got that entire network, that entire range of tools, if you like, in your toolbox, to help you fight against these very, very difficult subjects.
Q: One final -- you say that they're beginning to trust that they can come and talk to the coalition, and yet they're seeing attacks all over the country on not only coalition troops, but Iraqis who turn people in or who help coalition troops. Isn't there a sense of fear as well?
Bearpark: I recognize what you say, and there have been some terrible incidents, I know. But I think that the two things don't exactly equate. I think that people are beginning to feel that slightly greater sense of ability to talk freely.
In parallel with that, yes, there are certainly absolutely tragic incidents happening every day, whether these -- the incidents involving coalition troops or local Iraqi workers. Hopefully they will start to decrease very soon. Every single incident is one incident too many. But I think that's a separate process from a slightly growing -- a slowly growing confidence that we are actually here to help them help themselves and that this is a joint venture; that we can't impose economic development, we can't impose utilities. It's something that we do together.
Q: Eric Schmitt with The New York Times, gentlemen. I was under perhaps the mistaken understanding that the electricity and water levels were back to prewar levels and had been. It sounded like, from the numbers that General Strock gave, though, however, you're still not quite there. Had you ever reached that point and then fallen back, or you'd always been kind of striving to get to that level? And the second question, General Strock, if you could just address the earlier question of how many U.S. forces are now conducting some kind of security duty, either in numbers or in percentage. Thank you.
Strock: Eric, thank you. It's been awfully difficult for us to really understand exactly what level of service the Iraqis had prior to the war. There's never been enough electricity to go around, and Saddam definitely used the provision of utilities as a political tool to reward those he wanted to reward and punish those he wanted to punish. So it's been awfully difficult for us to really get at exactly what the average Iraqi had. We know, for example, that here in Baghdad they typically enjoyed 23 to 24 hours of power. But there are other places in the country that got two. And as we have brought the system back on line, we've tried to get more equitable in the distribution of that power. So what you're seeing here is the people of Baghdad are receiving less than they did before, but the -- but about 80 percent of the population is receiving more.
In terms of the numbers, we think that last year they were able to get to about 44 megawatts, 4,400 megawatts at the peak. And we're -- we hope to get to about 4,000 by the end of July. So we will not be where they tell us they were last year. But it should not be a crisis situation, because much of the nation's power demands have been diminished. For example, the military is no longer drawing the huge amounts of power that they did before the war. So I think what we'll see here by the end of July is the status quo ante bellum with the exception of the people of Baghdad, who will begin to feel the pinch, because power is being shared throughout the country more so now than it was before.
I also am reluctant to talk, really, numbers, first of all because I don't have the specific numbers on troops involved in security. I can say just generally, though, that this is called a security and stability operation. And every one of our soldiers is providing some sort of security, whether it's point security or presence patrol, if he's moving around and being seen in the community. So all of our soldiers are involved in that.
We -- I don't know that we have a -- put more troops on specific point security roles than we have. We have changed some of our procedures and don't want to go too much into those because that tells the enemy what we're doing differently now, and we'd prefer for him to find that out on his own. But I can tell you that the number one job right now in the security sector is the protection of these lines of communication.
Q: General, just one more follow-up -- Eric Schmitt again. Do you need more American forces or coalition forces to provide security to do what you need to do?
Strock: That's really not my question to answer. I don't want to dodge the question, but that's really for General Sanchez, the commander of the coalition force. And I think he's been pretty clear about that.
Q: General, hi. This is Esther Schrader with the Los Angeles Times. A number of the attacks on U.S. soldiers have taken place when they have been, as you've said, moving in and through the community. I wonder if that is causing you to reassess some of the instructions that you give to the troops there? Do they have to -- is it limiting their mobility? Are they being asked to pull back or being asked to take extra caution as they move through the community? Can you give us anything on that?
Strock: Well, Esther, I think that answer is, every time that we have a contact, we analyze it and try to learn something from it. So certainly every time one of our soldiers is attacked, we look at our procedures and whether or not be need to adjust those. I think what's really happening here is that the -- after the cessation of hostilities, the enemy's had a little bit of time to regroup, so we're seeing more deliberate types of attacks. We have not seen any sort of central or national orchestration of those. But we do see more sophisticated attacks, a combination of explosive devices and direct fire, for example. And we're adjusting to those tactics.
What I think we're also seeing here is a response to our more offensive operations. We are going after the enemy using the sort of information that Andy referred to, that we're getting from a lot of Iraqi civilians. We are seeking the enemy out. And when you get in that kind of a situation, you're going to stimulate more action just by the nature of our tactics. We're not sitting still and waiting for them to come to us, and hence more things are going on. I think that's part of the reason you're seeing an increase in the number of attacks.
Again, I don't want to get too far out of my lane here. I'm an engineer and not a war-fighter at the moment. But that's my personal assessment of what's going on.
Q: General, Richard Sisk, New York Daily News. Can you give us an idea of the role, the involvement of the Bechtel, Haliburton, private contractor people that are over there? Do they work on their own? Do they work on their own separate projects? Do they work overseeing Iraqis in what they do? And do they carry sidearms?
Strock: Sir, they do not work on their own. They are under contract with the Agency for International Development. We have about an $800 million contract out here, which is being managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on behalf of Bechtel (sic) -- I mean on behalf of USAID. The priorities are really set by the Coalition Provisional Authority on what they're going to work on, and they have a very clear picture of that. And AID then gives the instructions to them on how to carry out their work.
So they're very definitely working for the coalition here. They do not carry sidearms. They rely on us for the provision of security. And they also are instructed to employ local Iraqi firms to the greatest extent possible so that the money that is spent in this country stays in this country.
Q: General, I'm interested in the policy you have about the power in Baghdad, in redistributing it, since that's where the lion's share of the attacks on U.S. soldiers is occurring and it seems that's where you would have cause for more people to be unhappy about the services that they're receiving. Are you seeing any correlation between those two? I've heard news reports over the weekend that the tolerance for the attacks, if not the attacks themselves, seems to be coming from people in the cities who feel like they're not being taken care of. And it occurs to me, when you say that Saddam Hussein punished people by withholding power or utilities, do you think they feel that they're being punished?
Bearpark: I think people certainly don't react -- (Inaudible.) -- happily when they're getting more power. So first of all what we've got is people who were getting very little power before getting a lot more now. But of course, the ones who are getting less power, the people in Baghdad, are unhappy about it. That's obviously understandable. What we've had to do is have a big information campaign over the last week or so to explain the reasons why there's been less power, to explain that it has been because of sabotage. In a place like Baghdad, there are always rumors, and so I'm quite sure there were people out there who thought the coalition was stealing the electricity, as if we could steal it and send it back to the United States.
So what we've had is a big campaign to explain why it is that the power has been less over the last week or 10 days. And what we are moving towards now over the next week or 10 days is a more reliable load-shedding system, as one gets elsewhere in the world, to say, "No, we can't give you 24-hour-a-day power in Baghdad at the moment, and these are the reasons, but what we can do is give you power for, say, 20 hours a day, and we can help you predict when the four hours a day are when you won't be getting power. So I think with that sort of information campaign, that people are, if you like, trusting us more and understanding more what the problem is.
Q: Could you give us a little bit more information about the information campaign? Is it radio? Television? Fliers? How is that being put out? And you could you also update us on the status for the interim Iraqi government and the constitutional convention?
Bearpark: Okay. As far as the information campaign is concerned, the simple answer is that we use any means that we find, because the infrastructure for the media here is much less complete than one would wish. It was, of course, completely and utterly state-controlled by Saddam Hussein. A lot of elements of that have quite likely now vanished. And it's taking time for things like new television stations, new radio transmitters to come up, and for newspapers. And people here are very poor at the moment. So not all of them can afford to buy newspapers. So with every information campaign that we do, my guiding principle is we do absolutely everything: we do flyers, we do posters, we do word of mouth, we do television, we do radio, we do anything we can, because at this stage of the game you can't be confident that any one media outlet is going to hit the audience that you're looking for.
As far as the political process is concerned, as I said earlier, things are moving, and they're moving very rapidly now. I think Ambassador Bremer spoke a week or so ago about his ambitions for standing up the interim authority, the political process, and then the constitutional process. I don't think I'd be going into any more detail at this stage, but I'm sure he will be making further announcements as and when appropriate.
Whitman: If George's question is not too complicated, we'll take his and one other.
Q: George Edmonson with Cox Newspapers. You and others have talked about the fact that most of what you're repairing is a result of neglect over the years, not war damage. Can you tell us how good the pre-war assessment was of the status of Iraq's infrastructure, how much did you find that you were anticipating and how much have you been surprised by that you didn't anticipate and didn't get information on?
Strock: You know, I'm afraid I don't know much detail on the initial assessment coming in. I think we were surprised at -- and I know we were surprised with the state of the infrastructure. The -- as I mentioned earlier, the Iraqis are very, very competent, and it's remarkable what they've done with very few resources. But what we've seen is while they were getting power, for example, in Baghdad, as we look at -- look into the system, we find that there are very few transformers, very few circuit breakers and the sorts of things you need for a stable and reliable system. So it's been a cobbled- together system, and I think that surprised us a bit, that they were able to make it work as effectively as they had.
We are doing the sorts of investments, though, that are both correcting that lack of investment, and we're investing in new infrastructure in parallel with the Iraqis. We're bringing on new generation, for example, to supplement what was here before.
Whitman: No, let's go ahead and finish up. Go ahead. We'll have one more here.
Q: I'm Carl Osgood. I write for Executive Intelligence Review. If I understood your opening comments properly, it sounds like most of the reconstruction efforts, the projects are direct -- it's a directed effort. That is, you identify a project, and then you marshal the resources to get it done. But the U.S. and British economies have both been characterized by deregulation and privatization over the last two or three decades. I'm wonder if, over the long term, you plan to bring these kinds of concepts into the Iraqi economy.
Bearpark: I think that the current activities are exactly as you say, directed activities to deal with immediate infrastructure problems. And whatever one's future economy, you know for sure that you need to have clean drinking water for people, and you know for sure that you need reliable electricity. And in the very short term, you know that you've got to mend what you've got, because that's the only way of delivering.
So a directed program in that way is obviously correct. But as we look to the future, just as the future of Iraq is in democracy, so the experience of the European Union, of the United Kingdom, of the United States of America is indeed that a free market economy is the one that works. So indeed, that is the direction in which I am quite sure the economy of Iraq will be going over the coming years.
And yes, in addition to the immediate work that we're doing, the longer-term planning work focuses on that. But I would stress that that longer-term planning work is not imposed. I think nobody would object if we imposed a water system on Baghdad. That's perfectly okay, because everybody wants the results of that water system. But when we're talking about longer-term development, we're talking at the moment about partnership with the Iraqi people, and of course a partnership in which they're increasingly taking the responsibility. But on the specifics on the free market economy, I think it's been proven around the world pretty well that it's the only model that works.
Strock: May I also add, there's a pragmatic aspect to this, and that is that the system we found here when we got here was one of many, many state-owned enterprises. Virtually every ministry has companies associated with it that are described as business entities, but they're clearly state-owned and are not private sector. For us to get anything done in the short term, we really have to rely on the existing mechanisms. And there is a process which we're beginning to really assess which of those state-owned enterprises need to stay as state-owned and which need to privatize, and how we can get to a free- market economy without bringing the country to its knees. If we simply cut off all of these enterprises now, we're putting a lot of people out of work and creating perhaps bigger social problems in the short term that we'd be correcting in the long term. So it is -- it has been a very difficult process to work through that.
Whitman: General Strock, Mr. Bearpark, thank you for taking the opportunity today to bring us up to date on the progress that you're making and the many challenges that lie ahead of you. And we appreciate your time. We know you're very busy. Thank you.
Bearpark: Thank you.
Strock: Thank you.
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