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Military Chiefs: Post-War Plan Lacking
United Press International
November 18, 2004

WASHINGTON - The Bush Administration did not adequately prepare for the post-war period in Iraq, the nation's top military officers told Congress Wednesday.

The four chiefs of the armed services testified to the House Armed Services Committee that while they had adequately planned for combat operations, as evidenced by the quick advance to Baghdad, the U.S. government as a whole failed to put enough effort into planning for the peace.

The military role is limited, or should be limited, in post-combat periods to security operations, they said. The lion's share of reconstruction and nation building should have been taken up by other agencies in the government.

"If I had to go back and do it again, I would spend a great deal more time thinking about phase four; in other words, the stability, security, reconstruction part of that," said Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Michael Hagee.

"And of course, the U.S. military only plays a certain portion of that -- more the security portion of that than the other portion of that. But the integration of all elements of national power during the so-called phase four operations, if I had to do it again, I would put much more emphasis in that particular area so that we were better prepared for that."

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker agreed.

"I think the commandant's hit the nail on the head there," he said.

"As we know, this is a war of ideas, it's a test of wills... it has so many more components to it, and quite frankly, this is a job that is bigger than the Department of Defense."

While the tenuous security situation in Iraq gets the most international attention, U.S. military and diplomatic officials in Iraq report that security can not be separated out from the lack of basic services like sewage, water and electricity, the slow pace of self-governance, and the still stagnant economy. Each factor influences the other -- there can be no security until basic needs are met, basic needs won't be met until the economy is jump started, and the economy can not take off until people can safely go to work and school, and accept jobs and money from coalition forces without fearing for their lives.

Aligning those aspects of Iraq reconstruction is not an inherently military job but much of the responsibility for it has fallen into the military's collective lap, in part because it is the only U.S. institution with a presence in much of the country, and the personnel to implement reconstruction projects.

Moreover, the record of U.S. civilian agencies' reconstruction projects in Iraq is checkered. While progress has been made fitfully in various sectors, less than $2 billion of the $18 billion earmarked for Iraq reconstruction a year ago has been spent.

A new report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C, charts five major indicators of progress in Iraq and shows that all are in the "danger zone," with the availability of health care actually declining over the last six months.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper said the problem "calls for an interagency, deliberate planning process much like the deliberate planning process we have in the military, where formal assignments are made within the interagency to get upfront commitment to what the post-major combat operations requirements will be."

The post-war period in Iraq -- which has been 10 times more deadly for U.S. forces than the war was -- is not going to be "won" with bullets, Schoomaker told Congress. It will be won by convincing Iraqis that their best interests lie in working hand-in-hand with U.S. forces to build a stable country.

"This ultimately is not going to be won in the kinetic sense, in the battle. This is going to be won by Iraqis investing their own personal sweat and blood in the solution," Schoomaker said.

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Copyright 2004 United Press International. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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