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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

08 February 2007

Civil-Affairs Specialists Urgently Needed in Iraq

State's Satterfield says number of reconstruction teams will be doubled

Washington – In a move to speed up Iraqi self-reliance, the State Department has asked the Pentagon for a temporary loan of reservists to staff the growing number of provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) dedicated to stabilization efforts throughout Iraq.

State Department official David Satterfield told reporters February 7 that plans are under way to double the number of PRTs throughout the country from 10 to 20 and that the State and Defense departments are working closely to advance U.S. strategic objectives in Iraq, especially those that seek to strengthen the ability of Iraqi moderates to oppose extremists.

The secretary of state’s senior adviser on Iraq said PRTs are based on a joint civilian-military personnel model and staffed with Foreign Service officers and military personnel working side-by-side to promote civil society and foster good governance.

The concept for PRTs began initially in Iraq in mid-2005 under the name of provincial reconstruction development councils, but evolved from councils to teams in 2006.  Satterfield said the PRTs are an important tool to get Iraqis back to work so they will not be recruited “to join organizations engaged in violence.”

He said the six PRTs currently based in Baghdad, Iraq, are working to bolster political moderates, advance reconciliation and democraticization efforts and support counterinsurgency efforts by fostering economic development.  The other PRTs are pursuing these goals in Hillah, Basra, Irbil and Dhi Qar.

SPECIAL SKILLS URGENTLY NEEDED

U.S. military brigade commanders in Iraq have identified the need to populate the new wave of PRTs with agricultural development and soil specialists, town planners, city managers and veterinarians.  Even though such specialists are not found typically in the Foreign Service or in the active military force, they are common among military reservists who are civil affairs experts called up to serve temporarily in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Satterfield said 129 civilian technical staffers are needed immediately to supplement the PRT expansion and to complement the leadership that is being provided already by State Department Foreign Service officers, including specialists with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

He said State is looking to fill the gap in the short term with reservists prepared to serve with the PRTs for six months to a year.  Ultimately, Satterfield said these positions, and another 140 to come, will be filled by contractors after Congress authorizes funding as part of the fiscal year 2007 supplemental request.

“It’s not an issue of inability to recruit,” Satterfield said during a State Department teleconference, but the absence of funds.  [W]e have a short-term need to get people out there immediately,” and it cannot wait for the funds to surface in mid-2007 or later, he said.

Satterfield said the Pentagon can assign a small cadre of reservists to the PRTs on an interim basis without adversely affecting military requirements in Iraq or Afghanistan.

He said the Iraqi PRTs are much larger than those operating in Afghanistan and those operating in Iraq have more civilians carrying out the joint mission than those in Southwest Asia.  Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the House Foreign Affairs Committee February 7 that Foreign Service officers in both locations have been embedded with brigade commanders to “deliver services as part of the counterinsurgency effort.”

Satterfield said the new PRTs in Iraq will continue to be dependent on the military for security and transportation.  Co-locating the PRTs with military units “is the only practical way,” he added, to achieve “civil-military synergy in combat areas.”

Satterfield acknowledged that eliminating violence in Baghdad and the provinces of al-Anbar, Salaheddin, Diyala and elsewhere will require following through from short-term job creation to long-term, stable employment options.  He said U.S. civilian and military officials are working closely with authorities in Baghdad to mobilize Iraqi money, resources and programs to address stabilization and reconstruction efforts.

He said the days of huge spending by U.S. and multinational design-build firms are over.  Now, projects are being undertaken to help the Iraqis create and execute budgets to fund reconstruction, he said, so they are able to spend their money and “not … ours.”

If the Iraqi authorities -– with U.S. military and civilian help -– can quell the violence in Baghdad, Satterfield said it will have a reinforcing effect beyond the capital.  Baghdad “is a critical focal point,” he said, because the cessation of violence there will have broader benefits for Iraq “in terms of mobilizing external support, particularly from Iraq’s Arab neighbors in the Gulf.”

A transcript of Satterfield’s remarks is available on the State Department Web site.

For more information, see Iraq Update.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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