Military


Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515-0128

TESTIMONY ON
POST-WAR IRAQ
BY
DOUGLAS J. FEITH
UNDER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR POLICY
BEFORE THE
COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

15 MAY 2003
 

Post-War Reconstruction

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

I am pleased to have this opportunity to talk with you about the work of the Defense Department and the U.S. Government to put a free Iraq on its feet and headed toward stable, democratic government.

Combat operations to liberate Iraq moved speedily.  From their start to the fall of Baghdad was a period of three weeks.  Less than five weeks have elapsed since Baghdad fell.  Stability operations are underway throughout Iraq.  Much work remains to be done before the coalition’s military victory can be confirmed as a strategic victory.

As President Bush has announced, major combat operations in Iraq have ended.  The Coalition continues to encounter attacks from scattered, small elements that remain loyal to the former regime.  Coalition forces are proceeding with so-called Sensitive Site Exploitation, working their way down a list of hundreds of locations that may contain materiel or information relating to chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.  Our forces are rounding up, more or less daily, regime leadership figures on our most-wanted list and are collecting information on the Saddam Hussein regime's ties to terrorist activity.  

Meanwhile, the Coalition has the responsibility for the time being to administer Iraq for the benefit of the Iraqi people.  The Coalition is providing humanitarian relief, organizing basic services, working to establish security and creating the conditions for the liberated Iraqis to organize a new government for themselves.

Some Reflections on the War

Before entering more deeply into the post-war issues, I’d like to spend a moment on the war itself.  As Secretary Rumsfeld has said, military commanders and historians will study this war with care for many years.  I think they will find much in the planning and execution that was innovative, courageous and successful.

Some noteworthy points: 

Coalition forces began the ground war before the major air campaign.  This gave us a degree of tactical surprise under circumstances in which strategic surprise was clearly impossible.
Our forces demonstrated flexibility.  They were able to adjust to bad news – for example, General Franks re-routed the Fourth Infantry Division after the Turkish Parliament refused to allow it to stage from Turkey.
We used special operations forces to forestall particularly worrisome Iraqi options, such as missile attacks on Israel and sabotage of the southern oil fields and oil terminals.
Our forces advanced rapidly into Baghdad to take advantage of – indeed to accelerate – the quick-paced collapse of Saddam’s regime.
And we used time-sensitive intelligence to attack high-value targets virtually instantly. 

All in all, General Franks and his team developed a plan that was careful and detailed with scope for daring, adjustment and improvisation.  It was a plan that reflected the essence of our new defense strategy, the acknowledgement that our intelligence is always and inevitably imperfect, that the future is uncertain and that we must plan to be surprised.  General Franks’ plan allowed coalition forces to exploit opportunities rapidly, as they presented themselves.

I expect that historians will long debate the extent to which the plan helped us avoid many of the “horribles” that we foresaw with concern (for example, large-scale refugee flows across Iraq’s borders and Iraqi use of chemical or biological weapons).  Whatever the historians’ conclusions on these difficult questions of cause and effect, however, we can be confident that they will judge the thought and action of General Franks and of the Central Command as a favorable reflection on the brains, skill and character of the U.S. armed forces.

Post-war Objectives in Iraq

            Now that major combat operations in Iraq are over, our policy goals remain:

First, continue to demonstrate to the Iraqi people and the world that the United States and its coalition partners aspire to liberate the Iraqis and not to occupy or control them or their economic resources. 
Second, eliminate Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons, its nuclear program, the related delivery systems, and the related research and production facilities. 
Third, eliminate Iraq’s terrorist infrastructure.  A key element of U.S. strategy in the global war on terrorism is exploiting the information about terrorist networks that the coalition acquires through our military and law enforcement actions.
Fourth, safeguard Iraq’s territorial unity.
Fifth, reconstruct the economic and political systems, putting Iraq on a path to become a prosperous and free country.  The U.S. and its coalition partners share with many Iraqis the hope that their country will enjoy the rule of law and other institutions of democracy under a broad-based government that represents the various parts of Iraqi society.

            We are pursuing these goals with a two-part determination:  a commitment to stay and a commitment to leave.

That is, a commitment to stay as long as required to achieve these objectives.  We did not take military action in Iraq just to leave a mess behind for the Iraqi people to clean up without our lending a helping hand.  That would ill serve the Iraqis, the world and ourselves.
But the United States and our coalition partners have a commitment to leave as soon as possible, for Iraq belongs to the Iraqi people.

When Iraqi officials are in a position to shoulder their country’s responsibilities, when they have in place the necessary political and other structures to provide food, security and the other necessities, the coalition will have a strong interest in seeing them run their own affairs.  It is our interest to hasten the day when Iraq can become a proud, independent and respected member of the community of the world’s free countries.

            We are encouraging contributions and participation from around the world – from coalition partners, non-governmental organizations, the UN and other international organizations and others.  We aim to transfer as much authority as possible, as soon as possible, to the Iraqis themselves.  But the United States will not try to foist burdens onto those who are not in a position to carry them.

The Coalition Provisional Authority

            When he declared Iraq’s liberation, General Franks, as Commander of the Coalition Forces, announced the creation of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA).   The CPA serves, in effect, as a government pending the Iraqi people’s creation of a new government.  General Franks was initially the head of the CPA.

            Last week, the President named Ambassador L. Paul Bremer to be his Envoy to Iraq and put him in charge of all civilian U.S. personnel in Iraq, including the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Affairs (ORHA).   On Tuesday, May 13th, Secretary Rumsfeld appointed Mr. Bremer as the head of the CPA, with the title of Administrator.

            It is distressing to see news reports to the effect that Mr. Bremer’s appointment reflects dissatisfaction with the work of Jay Garner, the director of ORHA.  These reports are false.  Starting in late January, Jay Garner created  ORHA from scratch, staffed it from a dozen or so offices of the US Government, from our coalition partners and from the private sector and got it deployed first to Kuwait and then, within weeks, to Baghdad, had ORHA manage the distribution of humanitarian assistance and began the process of building the new Iraq both physically and politically.  The job was immense, the conditions difficult in the extreme, the time short and the achievements, as I shall discuss in some detail, have been substantial.  Jay Garner has done superb work and deserves admiration and gratitude.

            I would like to help set the record straight here:  Secretary Rumsfeld decided in January to ask Jay Garner to organize the post-war planning office in the Pentagon.  I made the first call to Jay to ask if he would undertake the assignment.  In that call, I explained that the director of that office would build on the various post-war planning efforts that had been underway for months throughout the U.S. government.  We conceived of the office as “expeditionary” in nature – the idea was that it would comprise the people who would, in the event of war, deploy to Iraq as soon as possible to form the nucleus of the staff of the coalition’s post-conflict administration. 

            In that first call, I explained to Jay Garner that the director of the post-war planning office might or might not deploy to Iraq and, in any case, the intention was that a senior civilian administrator would be appointed in Iraq after the major combat phase and that the post-war planning office (which became known as ORHA) would report to that administrator.  Mr. Bremer’s appointment fulfilled that original intention.  People unfamiliar with this background have unfortunately misinterpreted events in a way that is unjust to a fine man.

The Challenges Facing the Coalition Provisional Authority: Humanitarian Assistance and Reconstruction

            Now I would like to turn to the work the Coalition Provisional Authority has just begun, as Iraq emerges from its long period of tyranny.

            Humanitarian problems exist, primarily in the areas of electricity and water supply, but the overall situation is not desperate.  The war caused much less damage than many expected – the major problems derive from the sad state of the pre-war infrastructure, and from post-war violence by Baathists and ordinary criminals.  The Coalition has managed to avert the humanitarian crisis through a combination of unprecedented interagency planning and preparation and the skill of our combat forces.   In recent press remarks, ICRC President Kellenberger, just back from Iraq, confirmed that there is not now a humanitarian crisis in Iraq.

It is useful to put our recovery efforts in Iraq in perspective.  Iraq is a country that had been run into the ground by decades of systematic oppression and misrule.  Even before the war:

Only 60% of Iraqis had reliable access to safe drinking water
10 of Al Basrah’s 21 potable water treatment facilities were not functional.
70% of sewage treatment plants were in urgent need of repair and 500,000 metric tons of raw or partially treated sewage was discharged into the Tigris and Euphrates rivers – Iraq’s water supply.
23% of children under 5 suffered from malnutrition.
Iraq’s electrical power system (critical to its water system) was operating at half of its capacity.
80% of 25,000 schools were in poor condition – with an average of one book per six students.
60% of the population is wholly dependent on the UN oil-for-food program for subsistence.

The Coalition and the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance are working to return all sectors of Iraqi life to the pre-war baseline, and then to put Iraq on a trajectory toward sustained improvement.

Security is the sine qua non for relief and recovery efforts.  It is the Coalition’s highest priority.  There has already been progress.  Over half of Iraq’s provinces, including Baghdad, have been declared “permissive.”  Throughout Iraq, the Coalition is screening and paying local police officers and often participating in joint patrols to address security concerns.  We are bringing in international police advisors to do retraining and are reopening courts.  We are also working with the Iraqi governmental ministries and local leadership to reestablish a degree of Iraqi oversight and supervision of security.

There is no food crisis in Iraq.  This happy fact is to the credit of the US Government, Coalition and international donations and the resumption of the oil-for-food distribution system.  The Coalition and ORHA are working with the UN World Food Program to reestablish nationwide food basket distributions.  Over one million MT of food is enroute to Iraq and is to arrive in the next month.

The water system in Baghdad is operating at 60% of pre-war levels and efforts continue to improve on this.  Much of the rest of Iraq is at or near pre-war conditions.  Increasing attention is being paid to sanitation issues in order to prevent disease outbreaks.  Serious illness (even cholera) was common before this war.

The electrical power system throughout Iraq was dilapidated and unreliable before the war.  Coalition experts have done heroic work getting the system back on line.  The North and South have more reliable electric service than before the war; and in Baghdad progress is being made every day.  In Baghdad we reached 50% electricity coverage on 24 April and are closing in on repair of the 400KV ring around Baghdad, expected to be complete by 15 May.

There is no health crisis in Iraq.  The concern is security of hospital facilities and reestablishment of the Ministry of Health and civil administration.  Coalition partners initially provided support through field hospitals; we are now moving toward an ‘adopt-a-hospital’ approach.  ORHA is working to reestablish the Ministry of Health and there is active trilateral cooperation on health issues among ORHA, the World Health Organization and the reemerging Iraqi Ministry of Health.

The Coalition and ORHA are working to identify appropriate persons to reestablish key ministries and providing ministry advisors and logistical support.  Over 550,000 civil servants have received emergency payments, this should double by next week.  ORHA is researching appropriate salary payments, which will follow in due course.

There have been no widespread human rights abuses since the war.  There have been some property disputes and forced evictions in the North.  The Coalition and ORHA are addressing this issue with Kurdish leadership, local leadership, and through reverse evictions where appropriate.  There is an international fact-finding team in the region to investigate this issue and to develop a process for property dispute resolution.  The Coalition and ORHA are also working out policies and procedures regarding mass graves.

In summary, we have averted a humanitarian crisis in Iraq and are now working to improve Iraqi life in all sectors.  ORHA has grown into an interagency coalition team.  It has accomplished much good, transforming itself, in the midst of a war, from a bright idea into an organization of hundreds of people doing practical work throughout Iraq, with impressive professionalism.  Much however, remains to be done.

The Iraqi Political Situation

            Ultimately, strategic success in Iraq requires that we lay the political groundwork for a free and representative government that will establish the rule of law and respect the rights of the members of all of Iraq’s ethnic and religious groups.  Given Iraq’s long history of tyranny, one must expect that the political situation will remain volatile for some time and that the first steps toward representative government will be unsteady.  But there are grounds for hope. 

            Although many feared that, without a strongman, Iraq would tend to disintegrate, we have not seen any such tendency.  Among all Iraqis – Kurds and Arabs, Sunni and Shi’a, as well as the members of the smaller minorities – there has been an acceptance of the idea of a unified Iraq.  To head off ethnic conflict in areas where the Saddam Hussein regime had imposed a forced “Arabization,” we are preparing to adjudicate property claims in an orderly manner.

            Some Iranian-influenced groups have called for a theocracy on the Teheran model.  But it appears that popular support for clerical rule is narrow, even among the Shi’a population.  The Shi’a tradition does not favor clerical rule – the Khomeini’ites in Iran were innovators in this regard.  And their experiment has not produced widespread prosperity, freedom or happiness in Iran.  The Iranian model’s appeal in Iraq is further reduced by the cultural divide between Persians and Arabs. 

            In restarting Iraqi government operations, we have faced the question of the extent to which we should keep in power former officials who know how to run the administrative machinery.  Some have suggested that we must be willing to deal with the former Baathist power structure to obtain the technical competence needed to keep the wheels of government turning.

            We have rejected such advice.  Our policy is “De-Baathification” – that is, the disestablishment of the Baath party, the elimination of its structures, and the removal of its high-ranking members from positions of authority in Iraq.  This process is now underway, and, as it proceeds, the people of Iraq will be assured that their way forward will not be blocked by the remnants of the Baathist apparatus that tyrannized them for decades. 

Iraqi Interim Authority

            We are working towards the establishment of an Iraqi Interim Authority, which will assume increasingly great responsibility for the administration of the country.  This Interim Authority will draw from all of Iraq’s religious and ethnic groups and will provide a way for Iraqis to begin immediately to participate in their country’s economic and political reconstruction.  We expect the Authority will include not only the members of the Free Iraqi groups that have fought Saddam’s rule and the independents among the expatriate community, but will also draw from local leaders who have been working on the creation of a new, free Iraq.  As more Iraqis feel free to express their views, more will emerge who can be a part of this leadership.

Over time, the Interim Authority is to take control of an increasing number of administrative functions. But it’s most important responsibility will be to design the process for creating a new Iraqi government, for example, by setting up local elections and 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, including the security conditions, in which they can formulate a process and then pick their leaders freely.  An Interim Authority will be a bridge from the initial administration of basic services to an eventual government that represents the Iraqi people.

Elimination of Weapons of Mass Destruction

            As noted, coalition forces have operations underway to identify, secure, exploit and dismantle Iraqi WMD capabilities, facilities and stockpiles.  This is a huge undertaking and we are in the early stages of this effort.

            We have found evidence of the WMD programs, but we have a long way to go before we can gain a complete understanding of them.  As we noted in connection with the UN inspection process, there is no way that we can find WMD materials that have been hidden unless those involved in the program tell us where to look.

            We have detained many major figures involved in the WMD programs, including Mrs. Ammash (Mrs. Anthrax) from the biological warfare program and Dr. Taha (Dr. Germ) from the chemical warfare program.  We are beginning to question them.  Daily we round up more individuals who held high positions in Saddam’s regime, and we are confident we will find many other key scientists and technical personnel.

            Of the roughly 600 WMD sites we currently know about, we have only searched about 20%.  And we are learning about new sites every day.

I am confident that we will eventually be able to piece together a fairly complete account of Iraq’s WMD programs – but the process will take months and perhaps years.

It is important that we succeed in re-directing some of Iraq’s dual-use capability and its scientific and managerial talent to legitimate, civilian activities in a new Iraq.

Clearly, this will not be a mission that falls entirely to the U.S. military forces.  Other U.S. government personnel, including those within the DoD, the Department of Energy’s laboratory system, and in other government agencies can contribute. 

Coalition partners, including many NATO Allies, have nuclear, chemical and biological defense-related capabilities and expertise that are playing a role.  So too will the new Iraqi government.  It bears stressing:  The task of accounting for and eliminating all nuclear, chemical and biological stockpiles, facilities and infrastructure will take time.

Oil Infrastructure

            The United States and its coalition partners face the necessity of repairing Iraq’s oil infrastructure.  Saddam Hussein’s regime allowed the oil infrastructure to decay while building lavish palaces with Iraq’s revenue. A great deal of repair work is underway to ensure the safe resumption of operations at oil facilities after war-related stoppage. 

            The oil sector is Iraq’s primary source of funding. The United States is committed to ensuring that Iraq’s oil resources remain under national control, with the proceeds made available to support Iraqis in all parts of the country.  No one ethnic or religious group will be allowed to claim exclusive rights to any part of the oil resources or infrastructure.  In other words, all of Iraq’s oil belongs to all the people of Iraq.

Iraqi oil operations are being run by an Interim Management Team headed by Thamir Ghadban, who was a senior Oil Ministry official under the former regime.  Other Iraqis are assisting Ghadban. And Ghadban is being advised in his efforts by Phillip Carroll, a former American oil executive, and Fadhil Othman, the former head of Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO), the chairman and vice chairman of an advisory team that will be filled out soon with other Iraqi and non-Iraqi experts.  We are helping as we can, but the Iraqis have in the past demonstrated skill in operating their energy infrastructure in the face of adversity, and that record continues up to today.

In fact, the main oil problem we are facing now is different from what we feared before the war.  Then, we anticipated destruction of Iraqi’s energy facilities and a long-time loss of Iraq’s oil production.  But coalition force seized key Iraq’s petroleum and gas facilities in the south at the war’s outset and prevented Saddam’s regime from destroying them.  Some oil wells were set on fire, and we found substantial explosives in the southern oil facilities that Saddam’s forces did not manage to use.  We also captured the oil fields in the north largely in tact.

We now face the challenges of success.  With oil production at only 125,000 barrels/day, out of a prewar production of 2.5 million barrels/day, there already is a dearth of spare capacity to store crude oil and fuel oil (a byproduct of the refining process).  With the current ‘constipation’ of the system, as it is, Iraq cannot produce much more oil or refine much more gasoline without approaching its maximum limit of storage.  This has led to shortages of both gasoline and propane, and we have been forced to import both products into a country that, as you know, is rich in natural gas and petroleum.

            The resolution that Britain, Spain and the U.S. have introduced in the UN Security Council would relieve this problem.  It envisions the resumption of oil exports, and provides that the revenues be deposited in a new fund in the Iraqi Central Bank, with transparency provided to the world by independent auditors and international advisory board.  The revenues could then be used for the benefit of the Iraqi people at the direction of the Coalition Provisional Authority.

Funding of the Reconstruction

The ultimate costs of reconstruction in Iraq are difficult to estimate.  As I have said, many of the problems that we face there are the result of 30 years of tyranny, corruption and mismanagement.  War damage was relatively small-scale. 

There are a number of funding sources to help Iraq.  There is $1.7 billion in formerly frozen Iraqi government assets in the US that the U.S Government vested by Presidential order.  In addition, 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.  This money is also available to be used for the benefit of the Iraqi people.  

Once Iraqi oil exports resume, the proceeds will be available. 

Under the terms of the UN Security Council resolution proposed by the U.S., the UK and Spain, assets from two additional sources would be placed in the Iraqi Assistance Fund:

-- The proposed resolution calls on other countries 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.

-- The proposed resolution also provides that the uncommitted balance in the UN’s “Oil For Food” escrow account (amounting to approximately $3 billion) be turned over to the Fund.

 There have been public pledges from the international community of over $1.2 billion.  The donations are for the food, health, agriculture, and security sectors.  We anticipate additional contributions as well.

Finally, Congress has also 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.  

 The Coalition to Win the Peace

            We have won the war in Iraq.  We are committed to winning the peace.

            The United States is not acting alone.  We have worked with a coalition in prosecuting the war and we have a broad coalition that is contributing to stability operations and reconstruction.  We are working also with the United Nations and various non-governmental organizations.  And, of paramount importance, we are working with Iraqis who are eager to create for themselves a government that will secure their freedom, build democratic institutions and threaten neither the Iraqi people, their neighbors or others with tyranny, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction or aggression.



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