SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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[H.A.S.C. No. 10815]
OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM: OPERATIONS AND RECONSTRUCTION
COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED EIGHTH CONGRESS
JUNE 12, 2003
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
One Hundred Eighth Congress
DUNCAN HUNTER, California, Chairman
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCCURT WELDON, Pennsylvania
JOEL HEFLEY, Colorado
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey
JOHN M. McHUGH, New York
TERRY EVERETT, Alabama
ROSCOE G. BARTLETT, Maryland
HOWARD P. ''BUCK'' McKEON, California
MAC THORNBERRY, Texas
JOHN N. HOSTETTLER, Indiana
WALTER B. JONES, North Carolina
JIM RYUN, Kansas
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina
HEATHER WILSON, New Mexico
KEN CALVERT, California
ROB SIMMONS, Connecticut
JO ANN DAVIS, Virginia
ED SCHROCK, Virginia
W. TODD AKIN, Missouri
J. RANDY FORBES, Virginia
JEFF MILLER, Florida
JOE WILSON, South Carolina
FRANK A. LoBIONDO, New Jersey
TOM COLE, Oklahoma
JEB BRADLEY, New Hampshire
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCROB BISHOP, Utah
MICHAEL TURNER, Ohio
JOHN KLINE, Minnesota
CANDICE S. MILLER, Michigan
PHIL GINGREY, Georgia
MIKE ROGERS, Alabama
TRENT FRANKS, Arizona
IKE SKELTON, Missouri
JOHN SPRATT, South Carolina
SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, Texas
LANE EVANS, Illinois
GENE TAYLOR, Mississippi
NEIL ABERCROMBIE, Hawaii
MARTY MEEHAN, Massachusetts
SILVESTRE REYES, Texas
VIC SNYDER, Arkansas
JIM TURNER, Texas
ADAM SMITH, Washington
LORETTA SANCHEZ, California
MIKE McINTYRE, North Carolina
CIRO D. RODRIGUEZ, Texas
ELLEN O. TAUSCHER, California
ROBERT A. BRADY, Pennsylvania
BARON P. HILL, Indiana
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCJOHN B. LARSON, Connecticut
SUSAN A. DAVIS, California
JAMES R. LANGEVIN, Rhode Island
STEVE ISRAEL, New York
RICK LARSEN, Washington
JIM COOPER, Tennessee
JIM MARSHALL, Georgia
KENDRICK B. MEEK, Florida
MADELEINE Z. BORDALLO, Guam
RODNEY ALEXANDER, Louisiana
TIM RYAN, Ohio
Robert S. Rangel, Staff Director
James M. Lariviere, Professional Staff Member
Justin Bernier, Research Assistant
C O N T E N T S
Thursday, June 12, 2003, The State of Reconstruction and Stabilization Operations in Iraq
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thursday, June 12, 2003
THURSDAY, JUNE 12, 2003
THE STATE OF RECONSTRUCTION AND STABILIZATION OPERATIONS IN IRAQ
STATEMENTS PRESENTED BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Hunter, Hon. Duncan, a Representative from California, Chairman, Committee on Armed Services
Skelton, Hon. Ike, a Representative from Missouri, Ranking Member, Committee on Armed Services
Bremer, Ambassador Paul, Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.
DiRita, Larry, Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense
Hunter, Hon. Duncan
Skelton, Hon. Ike
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCDOCUMENTS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
[There were no Documents submitted.]
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
[There were no Questions submitted.]
THE STATE OF RECONSTRUCTION AND STABILIZATION OPERATIONS IN IRAQ
House of Representatives,
Committee on Armed Services,
Washington, DC, Thursday, June 12, 2003.
The committee met, pursuant to call, at 9:10 a.m., in room 2118, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Duncan Hunter (chairman of the committee) presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. DUNCAN HUNTER, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM CALIFORNIA, CHAIRMAN, COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
The CHAIRMAN. Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to move ahead with our briefing with Ambassador Bremer. And let me ask everybody, audience and members, to be extremely quiet, because we have got a faint reception here and it is going to take some discipline on our part. We may have a problem with the screen from time to time; if we do we will just walk on through it. But thank you for being with us this morning.
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ambassador Bremer is in Baghdad. He is the administrator of the coalition provisional authority in Iraq. And, Mr. Ambassador, we hope you can hear us.
A number of us visited you a couple of weeks ago in Baghdad. At that time, you and Jay Garner were in the process, along with all of our other military leadership in-country, starting to turn the wheels. You had some 3,000 megawatts turned on of the some 4,400 megawatts that was the electricity goal. You had about 60 percent of the potable water supply, which the Baghdad administration, under Saddam Hussein, had hooked up previous to the war, but only had about 60 percent of the requirement. You are fighting hard to prevent an outbreak of cholera by treating water throughout the country. You had some 500 newly trained policemen on the beat in Baghdad, with a goal of a much higher level. And you were starting to move out medical supplies from the various warehouses in-country to the medical centers. And you just sold the wheat crop and the barley crop, which is the majority of the food stuffs grown in Iraq, to the World Food Organization for $150 million. You had a successful crop and at that point a successful sale.
Mr. Ambassador, we are fairly up to speed on the casualty count throughout the country; the fact that we are still taking hits from forces in-country, particularly in that area that was most loyal to Saddam Hussein. But if you have additional information on that also, that would be good for us.
I would ask all members to understand we have got a slight delay going back and forth, and again a faint signal coming from Baghdad. So with that, Ambassador Bremer, you have a major challenge, but you were walking forward with us and meeting this challenge in a very steady manner when we visited you in Baghdad here a couple of weeks ago.
Please give us an update on how things are going; but before we do that, let me ask my partner, the gentleman from Missouri, Mr. Skelton, who is the ranking member of Armed Services, to say a couple of words also.
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[The prepared statement of Mr. Hunter can be viewed in the hard copy.]
The CHAIRMAN. Ike.
STATEMENT OF HON. IKE SKELTON, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM MISSOURI, RANKING MEMBER, COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
Mr. SKELTON. Mr. Chairman, first let me thank you for putting together this very unusual, but very important hearing for us. And, Mr. Ambassador, thank you. I know these are very unusual circumstances. And, Mr. DiRita, thank you for joining us, as well.
Now, Mr. Chairman, I know a lot of my colleagues have questions. Ambassador Bremer can only join us for a limited period of time, so I will be very, very brief. And I think the ambassador and his team are doing a good job of trying to restore the services to the Iraqi people. You have already outlined that, Mr. Chairman; I won't reiterate those. And it is the beginning of a long and difficult task of reconstruction, so we thank you for your efforts, Mr. Ambassador.
I must say that I am deeply troubled by the state of the security situation, and the chairman mentioned this a few moments ago. Not a day goes by when one of our soldiers isn't killed, and we need a plan for security in Iraq, in part to protect our troops, but also to bring stability to the Iraqi people who are there. Providing security is a long-term commitment; we know that. We need a plan for how many U.S. troops will be needed, how many months, how many years to come. This is an issue I raised with the President back in September last year and again on March the 18th of this year when consideration of armed conflict was upon us. I look forward to the questions and the testimony, Ambassador Bremer, and thank you so much for this.
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Mr. DiRita, thank you for being with us in person. Mr. Chairman, I really appreciate you putting this together.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Skelton can be viewed in the hard copy.]
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Mr. Skelton.
Mr. Ambassador, welcome to the House Armed Services Committee, and the floor is yours, sir.
STATEMENT OF AMBASSADOR PAUL BREMER, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY IN IRAQ
Ambassador BREMER. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. It is a pleasure to be with you today, even if it is somewhat unusual. And I regret that I didn't have time to come around to see the committee before departing for Baghdad in something of a hurry. I think it might be useful, just to give you a sense of where I think we are.
Our immediate priority to win the war was to establish law and order again on the streets of Baghdad and the rest of the country, and to work hard to get basic serviceshealth care, water, powerrestored to as many people as we could as quickly as we could. And to make clear that what is bringing about is a new regime here in time, we wanted also to make clear that the old regime was finished, there was no future. As you have said, Mr. Chairman, I think we have made considerable progress in that first phase, restoring basic services and getting law and order back on the streets, particularly here in Baghdad now. Things are much better than they were two months ago.
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Our focus now is on the economy and the very important challenge of creating jobs. This economy was flat on its back before the war and it is in even worse shape now. I met with a group of senior economists here on Monday night and we talked about unemployment. The best guess is that it was running at more than 50 percent before the war and, of course, the unemployment has gone up since then because all of the state enterprises, which form most of the economy, have been closed down.
So we are dealing with an unemployment situation for which there is no easy solution and without precedent anywhere in the world. I couldn't tell you what the unemployment rate is, but it is certainly more than 50 percent. It is therefore my top priority now to create jobs.
I have announced in the last two weeks two major programs: One, funded by appropriated funds, a $70 million action plan to get community projects going; the other, a $100 million plan, which I announced at a press conference on Tuesday, funded entirely by Iraqi funds. The second of these funds is directed at purchase construction projects that were started before the war. We chose the construction industry because we get the highest leverage per dollar spent in creating jobs in construction.
It is our intention that in this $100 million fund, all of the funds will be spent on Iraqi firms and Iraqi firms will hire Iraqis and conduct the work. We recognize that this is by itself, however, not a solution to economic problem. We are now urgently reviewing how we can get sustainable job-creating economic activity going in the country. This will involve looking at matters such as the investments that are allowed; the statement of enterprise and a bunch of other questions related to macroeconomic policy.
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As you will appreciate, many of these issues are issues which need to be discussed with the evolving political dialogue we have with Iraqi leaders. We are very mindful of the fact that when we take positions that will have a long-range impact on the Iraqi economy or society, it is legitimate for the Iraqi people to want to be consulted with and be provided their advice. And so, we are running on a parallel path with economic discussions; we have political consultations. And I would, of course, be happy to answer questions about that process.
Our objective is clear: We want to have an Iraq governed by a democratic process, with a government selected by elections based on a new constitution as soon as that can be done. And we want to leave behind an Iraq where the economy is no longer dominated by the state, but where there is a vibrant private sector to provide jobs and opportunities for all Iraqis.
Getting from here to there is going to take patience, Mr. Chairman, and I ask Congress to be patient with us. This is a very dramatic collapse of the political and economic situation here, and it will take time to fix the 30 years destruction that was done by the Baathist regime and Saddam Hussein.
I know that with your support we can succeed, and I intend to have it succeed, but it will take time. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.
Mr. Ambassador, just one question and then we will move on down the line here. What is the status of the restart of oil production? Is that a promising area with respect to employment, jobs?
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Ambassador BREMER. Yes. Immediately upon the lifting of sanctions three weeks ago, we began oil production the same day. We have offered oil for bid. The bids came in yesterday. They will be considered today or tomorrow and I expect an announcement within the next 48 hours about those bids. So we are now not only producing oil, we are exporting it.
As you know, Mr. Chairman, under the terms of the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council Resolution 1483, all the revenues from the oil sales are to be deposited in the Iraqi Development Fund, the proceeds of which are to be used exclusively for the benefit of the Iraqi people. And those funds will be available for job creation in the direction we decide to go.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.
Mr. SKELTON. Mr. Ambassador, thank you again.
Let me return to the issue I mentioned in my opening comment. Now, with so many American troops being killedas a matter of fact, we are losing one a dayI would like to understand the plans that are in place for improving our security in the regions of the country that we have the considerable unrest.
So the question is: What is the plan and the number of troops and where are they coming from, and what are the benchmarks we can look to over time to measure progress in achieving the goal of security in Iraq? I would appreciate your comments on that.
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Ambassador BREMER. Of course, like all of you, I am upset by the fact that young American men and women are still being killed, but it is the case that we still have a war zone in some parts of this country where we are seeing Baathists, Fedayeen Saddam, members of the Republican Guard and perhaps others who are not yet organized in any major fashion, but who have enough capacity to attack and hurt us.
Over the past few days, our forces have gone on the offensive with some success. We arrested and detained 200 people in one of the operations here in the area 24 hours ago. I am not going to make any speculation about the number of troops necessary. I think it is quite clear from my conversations with the President that he believes to keep whatever forces the conditions require us to keep here, and our force levels will be determined by what the conditions are.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Mr. Skelton.
Mr. HEFLEY. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.
What are the prospects, or how do you evaluate the prospects, of pulling these diverse groups together to form some kind of a civilian government where the Iraqis can govern themselves? And do you have any timetable that you could predict in doing this? You might speak to some of the problems that are involved in getting together. It appears from our long distance here that every time we make a step forward there is some group that wants to pull it back. Would you speak to this?
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Ambassador BREMER. Thank you.
Well, it is a difficult problem. As you will appreciate, the Iraqis are proud of their freedom; they love it. They are forming political parties out there. There are something like 112 parties in the country since liberation. They feel free to have demonstrations, including demonstrations against the coalition. And these are on a whole host of issues. At the same time, it is important that we move forward on the process of putting together a political entity, which we call the political council. My view is we will continue doing that. Some of the political parties have expressed concern about the political council, and some of them may decide in the end that they don't want to participate.
That, of course, is their choice. Nobody is going to force them to be in the political council. On the other hand, if they are not in the political council, they may miss an opportunity to influence how these next crucial months go. So my hope is that the responsible political parties will decide that they want to participate in this process.
The CHAIRMAN. Okay, thank you. Mr. Hefley? Mr. Taylor?
Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Ambassador, several questions. Number one, have you asked the President for additional troops? Have you discussed with the President a rotation schedule for the troops that are there. How long will they be there? My colleagues who have visited over there, they were somewhat taken back by the very difficult living conditions of the troops that were there. Have you had discussions with the President as to when we are going to get them into some, obviously not perfect, but better, housing; something similar to the c-huts that were built in Bosnia and Kosovo?
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Ambassador BREMER. Congressman, you put me in an awkward position. I don't like, as a general principle, to discuss what advice I may be giving the President. Suffice it to say that the question of troop strength is primarily a matter for the military command; rotations are something for the military command. I have visited troops, both American and coalition troops, all over the country, and it is certainly the case that in many places they are in difficult living conditions. This will become more of a factor as the summer approaches. In Basra yesterday the temperature was 131. It is likely that this is going to become more difficult as time goes on. But I am satisfied that at the present time we have enough troops here. And the question now is to use them effectively against the people who want to do us harm.
Mr. TAYLOR. Has there been any discussion of a rotation schedule? How long will the units that are there now be there before they are replaced by other units?
Ambassador BREMER. Yes. In fact, some of the rotations have already happened. For example, the 1st Armored Division has already taken over most of the positions of the 3rd Infantry Division here in Baghdad. The 3rd Infantry Division is still here, but I presume that when the time comes, the military command will have information about when they would be moving on.
Mr. TAYLOR. But there is no fixed time line or predictable date that a soldier that is sent there should expect to be there or his family should expect him to be there?
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ambassador BREMER. Well, Congressman, as I said before, these are really matters that are more appropriately put to the military commanders. I am sure there are some units which have been given dates. I know there are some that have rotated already. But this is really a matter for the military commanders to answer.
Mr. TAYLOR. Okay. Mr. Ambassador, thank you for what you are doing.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. I thank Mr. Taylor.
And Mr. McHugh, who visited you a couple of weeks ago with our congressional delegation (CODEL), Mr. Ambassador?
Mr. MCHUGH. Mr. Ambassador, thank you for your continued service and the hard work that you are doing over there. While we did visit you, you were kind enough to give us information as to the transition program to bring more Iraqi police on to the streets. You had founded a police academy there to teach them the ways of Western and modern policing and such. And I believe at that time you had graduated about 500 through that school. I was wondering if you could give us an update as to how that program is coming along.
Ambassador BREMER. Congressman, I am sorry the audio is essentially unreadable here. The only word I heard was ''police.'' I don't know what the question was. Again, we need to fix the audio on that and it seems to be deteriorating.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MCHUGH. Well, we can try one more time. The police academy that you had established at the time of our visit had processed, I believe, 500 candidates. I was wondering if you could update us on what the current status of placing Iraqi policemen on the streets in Baghdad.
Ambassador BREMER. If I understood the question, it had to with the police in Baghdad. We have about 8,000 police now on the streets of Baghdad. We have a very aggressive program to produce a national police force over the course of the next 12 to 18 months being directed by Bernie Kerik, the former commissioner of police of New York.
We have the police training program for this new police force, which will start in about three weeks' time, and we expect to be ramping up rather quickly a police force, not only in Baghdad, but in other urban areas and, eventually, of course, across the whole country.
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.
The CHAIRMAN. I thank the gentleman.
And the gentleman who helped to lead our delegation to Baghdad, Mr. Abercrombie?
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Aloha, once again, Mr. Ambassador and thank you again for your hospitality under very trying circumstances when we made our appearance. I think that is about the best way we can put it at that time. The difficulty for us now is, I think, explicit in some of the questions you have received to this point. The difficulty for us here on the committee, as we look to conclude our authorization for the defense budget and look to what we might reasonably expect to inform our colleagues about in a continuing supplemental appropriations budget is what exactly can we expect with regard to a timeline for the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance to carry out its duties, and what we can expect in regard to Guard and Reserve units or possibly changing the end strength numbers of the military.
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Now, I have realized you have referred us at this point to the military in regard to some of the specifics of those numbers both with length of time and numbers of troops. But in the context of your ten-point outline that you gave us, which included everything from restoration of services to crop purchases and paying of salaries, surely at this point you can give us some, at least general, perceptions of what it will take in terms of troop support and what it will take in terms of expectations for the logistics of occupation: Barracks, water supplies, protection for construction workers, that kind of thing.
Can you give us at least an outline of the methodology by which you would inform the chairman and the committee, as well as the executive, what will be expected by way of expenditure and by way of logistics to sustain the occupation?
Ambassador BREMER. Mr. Abercrombie, thank you for your kind comments about your visit. It certainly was not the most elegant CODEL reception I have ever seen, but you understand the circumstances under which we are working here. We are in a process now of trying to find out how to transition a lot of the work that is being done by the military to the civilian side. To that end, I am pulling together a requirements list, which I intend to submit to the Secretary of Defense for substantially beefing up the civilian side of our operation here in the Coalition Provisional Authority.
We want to try to assume from the military a lot of the things which they have been forced to do in the last two months, because we did not have enough security for enough civilians in provinces.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC For example, the military has been until now largely the instrument through which town councils have been stood up, the selections have been made of mayors and governors. This is primarily a civilian activity with which we would like to now transition over to the civilian side. It is certainly too early to tell what impact, if any, that will have on our troop strength. I would hope it would eventually allow us to reduce the amount of time our troops spend doing those things and give them more time to be prepared for combat operations and to provide security.
But there is no magic number. There is no magic bullet. There is no troop strength number that I look for in 30 days, 60 days or 120 days. Our troop strength must be condition based. It must be based on the need to continue to have a substantial combat capability in this country until we are satisfied that we have imposed our will against our enemies here, and we are not done yet.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Just a quick follow-up then on that.
We had an opportunity when we visited you to have the briefest of discussions about the role of peacemaking as well as peacekeeping as a follow-up to the actual warfighting. And I would hope that in the context of your outline and what you have just indicated in terms of your planning, that perhaps an emphasis can be made with our assistance to concentrate a little more on that peacemaking and peacekeeping function with respect to the transition. And I would hopeand this is not so much a suggestion to you as an observation to the committee as well as to those who are considering in the Administration as how to best support youthat we look to the experience in the Balkans of General Clark and now the just-retired-yesterday General Shinseki, who have the experience with regard to peacemaking and peacekeeping. And, hopefully, they could be brought in or those who have similar experience could be brought in to consult on how best to support you in this transitional phase of peacemaking and peacekeeping.
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Ambassador BREMER. Thank you, Congressman. Those are useful suggestions.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And good luck. Aloha.
The CHAIRMAN. I thank the gentleman.
And I have been informed that if we stay back from the microphone a little bit and speak a little softer ourselves, the signal seems to be better there in Baghdad. So you might back off from your microphone a little bit, speak a little bit softer.
The gentleman from Texas, Mr. Thornberry.
Mr. THORNBERRY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Ambassador, there is widespread agreement, I think, that law and order is the first prerequisite for rebuilding Iraq. And it is a little difficult for us to gauge exactly what the status on the street is. Could you, say on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the United Statesgive us an indication of where things stand now, understanding that it may be different from region to region? And to the extent that there are problems, to what extent are those problems organized by a Baathist or others, and to what extent are they just general lawlessness that is more unorganized?
Ambassador BREMER. Thank you, Congressman.
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Of course, you could also say that the ten scale you listed would differ from one city to another in the United States, so we would have to decide what city we were talking about. I think as a general rule, the situation, particularly here in Baghdad, which is where the problems were the greatest, has increased very dramatically in the last three weeks. Even since the visit of the congressional delegation it has gotten better.
Now, this threat from Baghdad was largely initially random criminal activities. In the three-to-four-week period after the fall of Baghdad, we started to see organized crime, where it became more criminal activity by groups, targeting specific areas for looting and stealing and other crimes. We have, I think, to a large degree, though not completely, dealt with this kind of criminal activity through a much more robust patrolling by our forces. We are now conducting in excess of 1,100 patrols every 24 hours in Baghdad. Many have been with the recently reestablished Baghdad.
We do face, however, two other threats which you referred to. One of them is what I would call political sabotage. Many of the activities that took place in the immediate aftermath of the fall of Baghdad, the burning of the ministries and so forth, which were recorded in the press as missing in fact in retrospect were clearly political sabotage. And I will give you an example.
I visited yesterday a large plant in Basra. This was a plant which was reported to have been looted by the press. It was attacked on April 28th. In fact, as I looked around the plant, it was very clear that what had happened was professional saboteurs had gone into the control room and had taken the racks of computers out, cut the cables, thrown the computer material and electronics on the floor. There was no looting going on. There was nothing that they were trying to steal. It was a pure act of political sabotage, almost certainly by elements of Baathists who want to show that the coalition is unable to run this country. We still face this kind of activity and we need to defeat it.
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The second problem we have, which is what we have seen in the area north and west of Baghdad in the last month, involve more serious Baathists and Fedayeen Saddam attacks on our soldiers of the kind we have seen in the last week. That, too, we must defeat. But if the question of law and order on the streets of Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, and Nasiriyah, Karbala-on the whole, that situation is not yet a ten, but it is certainly much higher than it was a month ago.
The CHAIRMAN. I thank the gentleman.
Mr. MEEHAN. Thank you.
Mr. Ambassador, my question is relative to your efforts to ensure that the Iraqi people are able to govern themselves. Is the United States instilling a government in Iraq irrespective of the desire of the Iraqi people? And is there any way to determine the will of the Iraqis, given the repression of the Saddam Hussein regime?
Ambassador BREMER. I am having the question relayed to me by somebody on a cell phone. If I understood the question, it had to do with the ability for the Iraqis to govern themselves in the wake of Saddam's tyranny. As I said in response to one of the earlier questions, I think the Iraqis are certainly capable of governing themselves, but there is a structural problem, and the structural problem is we need a new constitution. The current constitution, which Saddam promulgated in 1970, does not form the basis of anything resembling a democratic government as you would understand. And the pacing question for moving to a full Iraqi government, therefore, is how long it will take the Iraqi people to write the constitution. We hope to begin that process here in the course of this summer.
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The CHAIRMAN. Okay, I thank the gentleman.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.
I have a question regarding the issue that Mr. Skelton brought up, and that is we seem to be losing a significant number of troops during the peacekeeping process and the support for this process is not an interminable amount of time. And there will come a time when the American people decide that we have lost, for example, possibly more troops during the peacekeeping process than we did during the warfighting process and we will seek to reduce our commitment to be separate.
To that end, in 1998, Congress passed the assignment law by the President to give the authority to, I believe it was, the Department of Defense (DOD). Are we still on there, Mr. Chairman?
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Hostettler, once again, we have our second backup plan in place, which is that Mr. Larry DeRita, who is the special assistant to the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF), is at the witness table and, pending this rehook-up in Baghdad, Mr. DeRita can answer that question. So you go right ahead.
In fact, this is a perfect question for the SECDEF's assistant.
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Mr. HOSTETTLER. For me to refer to the military.
Well, the question isit is also a policy questionmaybe more related to potentially State, and that is, at one time we were going to arm dissident factions of those that were hostile to the Iraqi regime at that time in order to oust Saddam Hussein. Is there any thought todayinstead of having our military forces confront Baathists or Fedayeen Saddam forces, is there any thought, outside of the police forces, for us to arm forces as we were going to do according to that policy, that law that was passed in 1998? Is there any thought given to our allowing Iraqis actually to confront Iraqis in a military fashion so that we don't put our men and women in harm's way?
Mr. DIRITA. Yes, sir. And if we want to give it a seconddo we have an audio link to Mr. Bremer?
The CHAIRMAN. No, we do not. You go right ahead and we will let you know when we are hooked up again.
STATEMENT OF LARRY DIRITA, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
Mr. DIRITA. Perfect.
First, with respect to the law of 1998, we did, in fact, use some Iraqi forces, some opposition forces during the Operation Iraqi Freedom. We provided some military assistance. We embedded some military with some indigenous forces. We trained a number in accordance with the law. And they had some effect.
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Subsequent to the war, the priority has been on first disbanding the existing Iraqi military, and we have done that. Ambassador Bremer issued a proclamation to disband the ministry of defense and the army. At the same time, one of his more important initiatives has been to start doing the work to stand up an Iraqi army. Some of the forces that we usedthe idea would be to try and recruit some from some of the previous Iraqi army, if we can be sure that these are, sort of, low-level foot soldier types that people would be comfortable, and that will be a serious effort to try and vet and make sure that we have the right types of forces, and also to use some of the forces that did fight on the behalf of the coalition. Of course, the idea would be to disband them first, and they have been disbanded for the most part, and then reinstitute them into a new Iraqi army.
A network has begun. There is a gentleman by the name of Walt Slocomb, who I think many members of the committee know, was a former Defense Department official who is in Baghdad working for Ambassador Bremer to manage the reconstitution of the new Iraqi army. And as I said, that work has indeed begun. And I don't know his timeline, but he is on an aggressive timeline to work closely with the coalition forces to train and stand this unit up.
The CHAIRMAN. Did I understand? You said we disbanded the group that we were helping during the military conflict?
Mr. DIRITA. We have asked. We have, in fact. There were small numbers of groups, and they were used with some effect, as I said, in various parts of the country. And the Central Command's (CENTCOM) predilection has been, get them back, get them into some kind of a controlled status; and we have done that. They are needed for security, we are using them for security. But to quickly then, to some extent, use some of them and also recruit, because they were small numbers. They weren't anything near what would be needed for an Iraqi army.
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Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. I take it from your answer that we haven't stood up at this point any new Iraqi military force.
Mr. DIRITA. That is correct, Mr. Chairman, we have not.
The CHAIRMAN. Okay, and is your goal a date at which we would have a unit prepared?
Mr. DIRITA. I can only say that Slocomb's there. There is a lot of work going on. He is working with, as a matter of fact, a Spanish three-star officer, and the government of Spain has offered to assist. He has got some contractual assistance. He has got the coalition forces in the country. And it is a very serious priority and I would say we are talking about months, but I don't know of his timeline.
The CHAIRMAN. Okay, we will go now to Dr. Snyder.
And Dr. Snyder, I will ask Mr. Rangel to let us know when we are hooked up again with Baghdad. But in the meantime, why don't you ask Mr. DiRita any questions that are DOD-oriented, and we will give you another shot when we hook up the ambassador?
Dr. SNYDER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for holding this hearing. Perhaps if we would have had Christiane Amanpour as our witness, the technology would have worked. But I think this is not unusual technology that you requested. I mean, we see these news broadcasters from the back of a moving tank. And somehow, the U.S. House can't support you in your efforts to get this done.
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I think it is very important. I would hope that we can do this, perhaps not with the ambassador, but almost on a weekly basis in terms of what is going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. But it is very important.
Mr. DiRita, the reason I was pleased to see the chairman hold this hearing today was I think Ambassador Bremer right now, and probably for some time, is the most important person in the world. And I don't mean that as an overstatement. I think that if the goals as he outlined, which I wrote down, is to see Iraq governed by a democratic process with the private sector of providing jobs and opportunity, if that is not the result in the relatively short period of time in terms of human history, it is got major negative ramifications for, not only for the United States, but for the world. And so, I just think it is so important that he succeed and that we succeed as a nation.
My concern is, during the war there were only four nations that had troops on the ground, thus overwhelming the number of troops, the Brits, Australia, and I think the Poles had 200 armed troops.
We are now in the reconstruction phase and the rebuilding phase and the redevelopment phase. And we talk about the burden sharing, the concept of burden sharing. I just don't see how we can do this over the long-runand the long-run being a few monthswithout tremendous resources and commitment in terms of personnel and peacekeeping forces from the rest of the world. I think the number now in Bosnia is that we are down to less than ten percent U.S. troops. The rest of the world is involved in a major way.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC What are the thoughts of the Secretary of Defense in terms of aggressively moving toward getting other nations involved in a major way with both peacekeeping and reconstruction, including people like the French and the Germans and the Arabs? And thank you for being here today.
Mr. DIRITA. It is my pleasure, sir. Thank you for having this hearing. It is very important.
The issue of coalition, and indeed international, assistance to the previous coalition's efforts, the U.S. and British and others, Polish, military effort is really twofold. There is the military component, and indeed the Secretary has said, and we are talking with a number of countries about the importance of seeing coalition forces or international forces involved. And there are countries that have expressed an interest. We are discussing the ways in which many countries who have expressed an interest can contribute. And that is on the peacekeeping side, the military stabilization force side.
But there is also a very important effort that Ambassador Bremer is conducting to add substantially to the international flavor of his coalition provisional authority.
And I left the country about two weeks ago, having been there when we first arrived. We, at the time, already had fairly significant commitment in terms of reconstruction assistance, people in the country there to help. And I know I am not going to get all the countriesI know I won'tbut the Japanese, the Spanish, the Romanians, the Italians, the Czechs: These are countries that had actually contributed expertise to the reconstruction effort, and they are spread throughout the wide range of activity that is going on.
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As I mentioned already to Mr. Hostettler just in the previous question, the Spanish are assisting in the creation of the new Iraqi army. We have the Italians working in a couple of the ministries. The Romanians are assisting in some of the ministries in which they have expertise as a result of their own experience in the transition to self-governance post-Ceausescu.
So, Ambassador Bremer clearly understands the capabilities that other countries can offer. And as I said, my listing is very much a partial listing. There will be a lot of countries that have expressed a desire to participate inside Iraq in rebuilding the country. And we are going to take advantage of as many of those offers as we can.
In addition, there is another effort going on beyond Mr. Bremer's own work inside the country, to ensure that there is a lot of countries who wish to participate financially. And, in fact, I think we have gotten upwards of $1.5 billion in various financial contributions and commitments and commitments in kind from a lot of countries. I think the Secretary would share very much your sense of it, which is it is important that we do encourage international support for this effort. And, in fact, there is a great deal of that forthcoming.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Skelton has a follow-up.
Mr. SKELTON. To be clear, could you, when you get back to your office, send the members of this committee a list of what other countries are as of this moment making contributions to the reconstruction, to the troop strength, et cetera; and in addition thereto what the potential is for other countries to add troop strength and to reconstruction? Would you do that for us?
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Mr. DIRITA. Yes, sir, we will get some information to you.
Mr. SKELTON. Every member of the committee ought to get that.
Mr. DIRITA. Sure.
Mr. SKELTON. Thanks so much.
The CHAIRMAN. I thank the gentlemen.
Mr. Hayes and, Robin, go ahead and ask any questions you have of the Secretary and when we get back with Ambassador Bremer we will let you have another shot at him.
Mr. HAYES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Secretary, quick question: We were there with Congressman Hobson prior to Mr. Bremer's coming. The biggest problem we ran into was the inability that we had to distribute funds to Iraqis who had been hired to restore water, sewer and electricity. Haven't heard that that is a problem now. Has that been corrected?
And second question, rough idea: How much money was Saddam Hussein taking out of the Iraqi economy now that he is gone forever? What does that mean in terms of capital that will go back to the Iraqi people and the Iraqi economy to help them create those jobs?
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think it is significant to know, Mr. Chairman, the issue of political sabotage as opposed to looting. I hope people pick up on that this morning. Thank you.
Mr. DIRITA. Mr. Hayes, on the first part of the question on the distribution of funds, we mentioned in passing General Garner's first wave of activity before Ambassador Bremer arrived. One of his principal priorities was to call civil servants back to work and pay and distribute salaries and to get people starting these vital services. And, in fact, that is in progress. When Mr. Hobson's CODEL was there that had not yet begun.
Mr. HAYES. Well, the people were there, the money was here, the check had been written, but the connection hadn't been made.
Mr. DIRITA. The distribution systemeverything is still essentially controlled in Iraqthen we had to pick up that process. And it was a remarkable spirit and innovation of the coalition forces and the stability team that is out there that, kind of, connected a million and a half civil servants to all the money that we had, and it is all Iraqi money. It was mostly frozen assets from the previous regime. So that is in progress. We are picking up back salaries. They had last been paid February-March time frame, and so we have begun to pay the April, May and by the end of this month we will be caught up with salaries. And the payment system has been flushed out and it is working. In addition, pensioners have all been paid. So that is a real nice success story. It was a lot of great work by a lot of very hardworking people, including Iraqis who got back to work quickly. They had a lot of records that were very useful to us in terms of how the payments were made.
On your second point, it is difficult, since I am not an expert, in just how badly the regime plundered the economy, but clearly this is a country that has ten percent of the world's oil reserves, and you were there; you can certainly see it is not a country that reflects that kind of wealth, not to mention that the capability of the Iraqi people themselves.
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So the plundering of the Iraqi economy was complete by this previous regime, and that burden on the Iraqi people is gone. Ambassador Bremer has already talked about, by the end of this month the coalition will be exporting oil from Iraq and that will begin to restore some of the Iraqi people's own wealth back to them.
But it will take time to, sort of, undo the effects of 35 years. Everybody considers it a, sort of, Stalinist regime and it was certainly in the way it treated its people, but it was almost a Mafia-type existence when it came to the economy, where the regime enriched itself and its friends and allowed people to have whatever activity they could have, economic activity after that, and that wasn't much. I mean, you see a small merchant class, but there really wasn't much, and that should turn around rather quickly we hope.
Mr. HAYES. Thank you, sir.
I note to people how much of that will be going back to the Iraqi people and the economy. That is the big part of what we have helped to liberate that country from.
Mr. DIRITA. Without question, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. I thank the gentleman. Mr. Langevin?
And, Mr. Langevin, we do have a land line connection now with the ambassador. So if you have a question for the ambassador, go ahead and ask it and it will be relayed to him over the telephone, and we will have a response. We will have to wait a few minutes and we will have a response.
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Mr. LANGEVIN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ambassador, if I could, I have three basic questions, and I know some of the topics in some ways have already been addressed, but I think they are important and if we could just revisit them again.
First, in terms of the Iraqi people and getting them to buy into what we are trying to do there. Obviously, one of the most important aspects of that will be the delivery of services, getting the basic necessities back on line.
Can you tell me to what degree that has happened? Are they at least up to par to where they were before the coalition forces went in?
And also, can you speak to what other things we are doing to encourage the Iraqi people to buy into this process, to let them feel a part of this, to know that they are a part of making their future work for the better?
The second is, I am interested in the type of post-Saddam government that is going to be established, in which the Iraqi people will rule themselves. Can you talk more clearly about the vision that you see, what is the end game and to what degree are religious factions or elements going to be involved in this, keeping in mind that we have to be careful not to impose a Western solution on an Eastern problem?
I will stop with those two for now.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Langevin, I think the line is broken again, so what we will have to do is go to the other ready, Mr. DiRita, our backup quarterback.
Mr. DIRITA. Happy to be
The CHAIRMAN. Okay, you got Mr. Langevin's two questions?
Mr. Langevin, we will come back to you when we reestablish a link.
Mr. DIRITA. Sir, if I captured both parts of the questions, the first was, what are we doing to get Iraqi's involvement in the equity?
Mr. LANGEVIN. Where are we in terms of providing services or at least up to where the Iraqi people were before coalition forces went in, and what other things are we doing to get them to buy in to this
Mr. DIRITA. With respect to this, sort of, base line, it really depends on what part of the country that we are discussing. In Baghdad, Baghdad previously had the best services when it came to power and water and the, sort of, creature comforts that we all actually take for granted, Baghdad was the focus. And, in fact, such things as electrical powerthere are several power generation facilities in the country and generally the grid was designed to feed Baghdad. So, Baghdad had a higher standard and we are not at that standard yet in some areas.
In terms of electrical power, I think, if I have seen recent numbers within the last couple of days, we are at about 20 hours a day in Baghdad of electrical power. And we can get you some specific numbers, but we are probably 60 or 70 percent of the generating capacity of the requirements in Baghdad, are providing that capability. So we are getting there but we are not quite there.
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In other parts of the country, we are at or better than services prior to the war. If you lived in Basra, where there was a focus of regime repressionit is heavily Shiaservices were used as a weapon against people. And they had very little potable water. They had electrical power where rolling brownouts were frequent and common. We are at or exceeding the prewar standards, recognizing they were very low already.
And, in fact, the people of Basra know that. I mean, if you live in Basra and can open your tap and water comes out and it is mostly potableyou can use it for cooking and what notthat is an improvement in your life. And for a long time, several years, that hasn't always been the case. So, it is spotty, but we are at or better in much of the country and somewhat less, but getter close to, the prewar phase line in Baghdad, I would say is a rough way to describe it.
To continue and to do better will take investments in infrastructure. The Iraqi infrastructure, when it comes to electricity and power and water, was very poor. Again, another example of how the wealth was plundered. This is a country, again, that is sitting on large oil reserves and the electrical distribution system in the country is vintage 1960. And so, that will take an improvement. And Ambassador Bremer has gone about trying to begin identifying where we can make those kinds of improvements and where we should.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. DiRita, on that point. Mr. Langevin, if the gentleman would yield for one minute; when we were there, they were in the process of repairing the line, a major electric artery that came in from the north. Bechtel, I believe, had the contract on that and was working as we were there several weeks ago.
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Has that line repair been completed?
Mr. DIRITA. This is the 400 KV distribution system, and that work is not complete, at least as of the last few days.
The CHAIRMAN. How far out are we?
Mr. DIRITA. I will get that information, sir. I don't have it at hand.
The CHAIRMAN. Okay. Thank you, Mr. Langevin. Go on ahead.
Mr. DIRITA. So I think the second part of your question had to do with the type of government.
Mr. LANGEVIN. Well, what other things are we doing besides providing basic services to get the Iraqi people
Mr. DIRITA. Oh, sure. Ambassador Bremer has already mentioned his reconstruction fund that he announced a few days ago, $100 million to complete prewar construction projects and do the kinds of things that can put a lot of Iraqis to work, that can distribute money into the economy, which is an important objective.
And that can also get things built. There is a lot of, as I said, infrastructure. The roads in some places are very good; in other places they are poor. The buildings in some places are very old and beat up. So that kind of activity will be very important.
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He also mentioned Resolution 1483, which made it incumbent upon the coalition to provide the oil revenues back to the Iraqi people. So we have established this Development Fund for Iraq. The money will be deposited in that fund, and that will be money used for reconstruction-type of activities: improving infrastructure, doing the kinds of things that, you know, one must do to get a country moving again.
Mr. LANGEVIN. Thank you.
Mr. DIRITA. And then you had a question about the type of government. And I would only say that there is a diverse political spectrum in Iraq. You have a very secular component of business and technical people who, frankly, were unrepresented in the previous regime. They did their jobs, but they were mostly government functionaries who didn't have a lot of say in the political system.
Then you had, obviously, the Kurds in the north, who have always had a troubled relationship with the country, with Saddam Hussein, and had some measure of autonomy, and flourished under that autonomy in the last ten years. And then, of course, the entire religious and Shia component that is itself very diverse.
So what Ambassador Bremer is doing is getting to understand and try and see what elements of those various political forces are willing to work with the coalition and start to come together and develop a kind of council that can start assuming some responsibility.
It is going to take time. I don't think, on the one hand, we certainly don't want to impose a final outcome, but we are going to have to impose some discipline in a process that can lead to the final outcome.
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The final outcome is for the Iraqi people themselves to determine. It will start with developing a constitution, which they will have to write. But that will take some time.
And what Ambassador Bremer, I think, is doing is harnessing the various political forces that have sprung up since the coalition, since the end of the war, and trying to pull them together and see who wants to kind of get into that, sort of, constitution-developing and that way forward.
Mr. LANGEVIN. To what degree will there be, if you will, a separation between church and state. Not, you know, having too much of a religious influence on the new government?
Mr. DIRITA. Well, again, it is an important and one that ultimately Iraqis will have to decide for themselves. But clearly it is nobody's desire to have the kind of regime we have, for example, in Iran, where it is very clearly a clerical control of all aspects of life.
It is my sense, and I have spoken now to quite a number of Iraqis across that political spectrum, that most Iraqis don't want that. But there is clearly a radical element that is going to try and participate either legitimately or illegitimately in that process. And that is one of the things that Ambassador Bremer is very careful in terms of divining and trying to prevent any real influence.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Langevin, we think we have got a connection again. So if you want to summarize your last questionbut first, we will ask, Mr. Ambassador, can you hear us?
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Ambassador BREMER. Yes, Mr. Chairman, I do hear you. And I agree with Mr. DiRita's answers, and they are right on target. The only point I would make is that the 400 KV in north Baghdad. We are still having trouble with south Baghdad.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Langevin, did you want to ask a question of the ambassador?
Mr. LANGEVIN. Well, the secretary's answer was pretty clear.
But, Ambassador, if you wanted to elaborate even further about the type of government, the progress you have made in terms of helping to form a new government there and to what degree are religious influences going to be involved or not involved in that process.
Ambassador BREMER. I think Mr. DiRita very adequately details the basic problems. It is the case that there must be an Iraqi-written constitution that they will have to decide for themselves the form of government they want. Do they want a government? Do they want a presidential government? Do they want a constitutional monarchy? What role should religion play?
In the 1925 constitution it was stated that thebut it went on to say that there would be freedom of worship for all of their believers. Their 1970 constitution, written by Saddam Hussein, also said that Islam was the chief religion and it also had a clause about freedom of religion which, of course, was not always carried out.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But as Mr. DiRita pointed out, these are questions which must be left to the Iraqis. We have insisted very strongly that the process of writing this constitution and the political council must have representation from all sectors of Iraq, which would include, in this case, the Christians. And at my last political meeting on Friday night, we did invite and had in attendance the head of one of the major Christian groups.
Mr. LANGEVIN. Thank you, Ambassador.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Mr. Langevin.
And Dr. Snyder, we promised you you would have a chance to ask the ambassador a question when the signal went down. Go right ahead, Dr. Snyder.
Dr. SNYDER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity.
Mr. Ambassador, while you were away, I was bragging on you, calling you the most important person in the world. And I truly mean that, because I think you have a very important job that will determine many of the successes or difficulties of American foreign policy for years to come. My concern is where the resources are going to come from. And while it is difficult to estimate, I have seen various studies that estimate that over the next 5 years, it will take $175 billion to $250 billion in reconstruction and development costs. That does not include the cost of military peacekeeping.
My question that Mr. DiRita responded to was: It seems in order to do this we are going to have to move aggressively into this burden sharing, that we are going to have to bring in more people than just the folks that were on the ground during the war, the Brits, the Australians and the Poles, and bring in, you know, all our allies, including the French and the Germans and people that may have disagreed with us on the war, because it is now in everyone's interest to achieve the goal that you outlined, which is Iraq governed by democracy.
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As you look ahead to the job you have to do, the very important job, perhaps the most important job going on in the world right now, how do you see the resources gap that you are going to have if we don't get tremendous help from the rest of the world?
Ambassador BREMER. Well, thank you, Congressman. Obviously, first, I think it is very hard right now to know what the actual number will be, but it will certainly be a very substantial number, because this country has been under-investing in key areas for 30 years, as Mr. DiRita pointed out.
I visited one of the main power plants at Baghdad today, and it is powered by four turbines that were put there by General Electric in 1963. And this is typical of the under-invested, but well-maintained, infrastructure that you find all over the country. And there are certainly tens of billions of dollars that need to be spent on repairing this infrastructure and bringing it up to modern standards.
We currently have, last that I saw, contributions from 58 other countries to the reconstruction of Iraq, including among others, the French and the Germans, who have made commitments to spend money here, usually through U.N. agencies. I don't remember which ones in the case of the French and the Germans.
But there certainly is no hesitation on our part to welcome the participation of many, many countries. And that is a program that is being run very aggressively out of the Defense Department, with help from the State Department. And I am sure, as we go forward, we are going to find a need for as much help as we can get from other countries, and we have already, as I said, been actively soliciting that.
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The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Dr. Snyder.
Mr. CALVERT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The prior questions touched on the issue of basic infrastructure in Iraq: Water, sewer, electric and so forth. So some of the other infrastructures, since we are on that subject, the port facility in BasraI understand that Bechtel, I think, has the contract to clean out that waterway and get that prepared for major ship traffic. How is that coming along?
Ambassador BREMER. Now, the port is actually some distance from Basra in a place called Umm Qasr. And I went down and visited it for the official opening, the first shipment of American food aid, which was about three weeks ago. The port is now being dredged by Bechtel and our immediate goal is to get the port to a place where it can take ships with a 13-meter draft; it can now take 9 meters.
We anticipate that this port will be ready to take sea-going vessels shortly, in the next few weeks, which will be a tremendous advantage for both the import of much-needed things like food, but also eventually for exports. And the contract is being carried out now by Bechtel.
Mr. CALVERT. On the oil production, as far as getting the country back to some level of production, how is that coming along to bring income into Iraq?
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Ambassador BREMER. We are currently producing just short of 600,000 barrels a day, which is probably about the domestic demand. We are not entirely sure; statistics are not really reliable out here, but we think demand is somewhere between 600,000 and 800,000 barrels a day. We may be ramping that production rate up to a level of about a million and a half barrels a day by the end of the year and maybe more.
So we will be able to export a substantial amount of oil. Even after we have depleted the roughly eight million barrels that are now in storage in the pipeline to Turkey, which we are now already selling off, as I mentioned in an answer to an earlier question, we have bid out for some two million barrels of that right now. So we will be getting revenues, a substantial amount certainly by really next week or the week after.
Mr. CALVERT. How is the refining capability in Iraq? Is that getting back to some level that can produce enough products for the Iraqi people?
Ambassador BREMER. We are slowly ramping up the capability. I visited the main refinery in Basra yesterday, which is running at about three-quarters capacity. The other major refinery, which is more near Kirkuk, is not up to full strength.
When they are up to full strength, they will be self-sufficient in gasoline and diesel, and we will be very close to self-sufficient in liquid gas, which is, of course, very essential because it is used for cooking in the summer and heating in the winter. We are probably going to get very close to self-sufficiency ultimately by the end of the year.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CALVERT. One last question, totally different subject: The debt that Iraq held prior to the war, people who hold that, are they cooperating with you and the United States to write down that debt in order for that money to be used for reconstruction rather than debt repayment?
Ambassador BREMER. Congressman, one of the discussions that the Iraqis had at the G8 meeting about two weeks ago, and a statement was issued by the ministers there that stated that the major creditors had agreed that there would be no payment of debt or interest at least until the end of 2004. We have said that we believe there should be a real reduction in the net present value of the debt which is owed by Iraq, and that is a matter that now needs to be discussed by the relevant finance ministers.
Mr. CALVERT. And what countries primarily hold the biggest part of that debt?
Ambassador BREMER. The largest creditors to Iraq are the Soviet Union: Well, Russia, Germany and France. And I believe the fourth one is probably Italy, though I could be wrong about that.
Mr. CALVERT. Thank the gentleman.
The CHAIRMAN. I thank the gentleman.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Larson.
Mr. LARSON. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for this opportunity to ask some questions of the ambassador.
Mr. Ambassador, thank you for making time.
I believe it is the obligation of every American to embrace the military victory in Iraq. Our women and men in the military did a great job. They got rid of a terrible dictator and the Iraqi people are better for it.
Certainly now is the time for the civilian leadership to help build a peace in Iraq that is as successful as the military victory. And I think that, Mr. Ambassador, you are going to find a Congress that is more than willing to continue to support your efforts in helping to build that peace in Iraq. I want to be clear about that.
I want to ask some questions about what it might take for that to happen. And you said earlier that some parts of the country are still a war zone. And on May 23rd of this year you also said that you are planning to create a new Iraqi corps to replace the army as a first step to form a national defense capability for a free Iraq.
So my first question really has to do with that idea of security, and the question is this: What benchmarks do you think we have to meet to meet a definition of a free Iraq? It is certainly clear that Iraq and the Iraqi people have been freed, freed from Saddam Hussein, but what benchmarks have to be met to get to a free Iraq and when do you think that we will be able to hit those benchmarks? My second question is a little more lighthearted, but related, and that is this: Are you buying or renting? That is, do you plan to be there a long time? Do you think this is a long-haul project or is this something that, to hit these benchmarks on security and governance, that is a shorter-term project?
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Ambassador BREMER. On the first question, Congressman Larson, we intend to start recruiting for the new Iraqi army within the next couple of weeks. We have identified sites where we can do the recruiting and training, and we are going to start hiring some demobilized army and clear those sites and prepare them for the recruiting and training. So we plan to move out rather smartly in trying to stand up this new Iraqi army.
I can't say what the benchmarks are. I can say what the objective is. In my view, a free Iraq is an Iraq which is at peace with its neighbors and has sufficient defense force to keep the neighbors from meddling in Iraq's internal affairs.
How long that will take is hard to say.
We have Iranian meddling in Iraq affairs now. And, of course, as long as Iraq doesn't have an army, that becomes our real problem, and we are dealing with it.
As for your second question, I think it is only realistic to assume that this is going to be a rather long-term effort. The main question will be how quickly the Iraqi people can draft their own constitution, which then will have to be ratified by the Iraqi people, and after that there will be elections for an Iraqi government. And once an Iraqi government is fully sovereign, the Iraqi government is in place, then the coalition can go home.
Mr. LARSON. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. And again, thank you for taking some time with us today or in the evening as the case may be.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. I thank the gentleman.
Mrs. WILSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ambassador Bremer, thank you for hanging with us through the technologies problems.
We have seen reports here about the possibility of a more organized insurgency developing. And I know that you work jointly with the Central Command on security issues, but are you seeing the attacks become more organized or resistance beginning to be more organized, whether it is Baathists or other extremists?
Ambassador BREMER. Yes, Congresswoman, I think we have seen, in the attacks on our forces in the area just north of Baghdad, beyond az-Zubayr and Balad, where we have a major operation going on and to the west of the city in Ar Ramadi and Fallujah, we are seeing organized attacks. Now, it is important to be clear that as far as we can tell, these are still small-scale, that is to say five or six people, maybe ten at a time. There does not really appear to be evidence of central command and control of the attacks, but they are, to answer your question, organized, and we have to deal with this.
Mrs. WILSON. Thank you.
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Ambassador, what do you think the role should be of the U.N. weapons inspectors, and what kind of relationship do you want there of any U.N. team?
Ambassador BREMER. We have here, as you know, a team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which has specific obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and which they are now carrying out those responsibilities in examinations of some buildings at the Tuwaitha nuclear site south of Baghdad.
For the time being, I think that is the appropriate limit of the U.N.'s role. If we need a more aggressive U.N. role once we find weapons of mass destruction, then I am sure the Security Council will want to consider that matter. But for the time being, we have the IAEA.
Mrs. WILSON. Thank you.
I understand that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has recently declared that Iraq is not going to be admitted to any of their meetings until a new government is installed. Do you or your folks believe that this will create any difficulty in the sale of Iraqi oil?
Ambassador BREMER. Well, I don't know; it doesn't happen to be our policy. In fact, there will be an Iraqi led delegation to a U.N.-sponsored meeting in New York on economic matters in about two weeks. So Iraqis will, in fact, be represented.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. WILSON. And the final question I have for you was about the relationship between your civil administration and CENTCOM. And, obviously, you are responsible for the civil affairs, at the same time the most important thing is to establish a sense of security, so that, whether it is health care or letting your kids go to school or commerce to be able to go on, people need to feel that they are safe.
And could you talk a little bit about your relationship between the civil administration to CENTCOM? Who is responsible for restoring civil order?
Ambassador BREMER. Well, that is my responsibility, the most important responsibility of the Coalition Provisional Authority, which has responsibility under international law and the U.N. Security Council, and also under the authority transferred to me by the President, to see to all of the running, in fact, of the Iraqi government until such time that there is a sovereign government.
So it is quite clear where that responsibility lies. It obviously involves very close coordination with the military authorities here, and we have that. I have military officers on my staff from the relevant commands and, indeed, the joint task force will be co-located in my headquarters here in about two weeks. So I anticipate that there will be very close coordination.
Mrs. WILSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. I thank the gentlelady.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Meek.
Mr. MEEK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Ambassador, thank you for being with us today. And I am glad that you are here to answer some questions.
Mr. Ambassador, I have been hearing a lot about the conditions. I haven't been to Iraq since they have been allowing members of Congress to go. But I understand the conditions as it relates to our troops. The sanitary issues, health issues are mounting more every day.
I wonder, as to we start to try to put in this new government that we speak of or try to assist them in that process, what role is your office playing in making sure that our troops have a location during down time with restrooms, things of that nature, just common things that we would like for our troops to have. Has your office or your military desk in your embassy, have they been a part of that process and is that still an issue?
Ambassador BREMER. I was asked a similar question earlier and I can only say two things.
Number one, obviously, the responsibility for the protection and care of the troops is essentially a military responsibility. I have traveled around and visited our troops and the coalition troops all over the country, and while conditions are rough by civilian standards, this is after all a military zone and they are in-field conditions in various places. I still have not myself seen any major problem. I am sure if there are, the military commanders would be looking after those as is appropriate.
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Mr. MEEK. As we start looking at this new government, and I have been watching your comments over cable television networks out saying that this is their democracy, they pick their own leaders. As it relates to the old Iraqi regime, do you see any elements of terrorism through that regime trying to work itself within the government?
Ambassador BREMER. I had a bit of trouble understanding.
Mr. MEEK. The question was, from the Saddam Hussein regime or party, do you see elements of that party trying to work itself within the new government that is trying to be formed?
Ambassador BREMER. There is no evidence of them trying to work their way into the new government. But there is clear evidence that the Baathists are trying to pull together at least small-scale attacks against our forces particularly in the areas around Baghdad. And we must deal with those threats, as we are now, with our military forces.
Mr. MEEK. Last question is going to be about weapons of mass destruction. You might have answered this question a little earlier, but once again I am getting my information from members that have traveled to Iraq recently on the last three congressional trips that have been made there. How many other countries have joined in with us in trying to find weapons of mass destruction?
The reason why I am raising the question, Mr. Ambassador, as every day passes by this country is losing its credibility as it relates to dealing with terrorism, every day goes by without finding these weapons of mass destruction. We have a coalition, including the British and others; what role are they playing in trying to find these weapons of mass destruction (WMD)?
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Ambassador BREMER. I am sorry, I can't understand. We simply can't understand your question here. It may be that you are speaking too close to the mike.
Mr. MEEK. What other countries are participating? Can you hear me?
Ambassador BREMER. Yes.
Mr. MEEK. What other countries are participating in finding, helping us find WMDs?
Ambassador BREMER. Congressman, the main obligation in looking for WMD largely is the United States, but the British are, of course, a full member of our coalition.
Mr. MEEK. Okay, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. I thank the gentleman.
And the ambassador is going to have to cut off here in just a couple of minutes, so let me ask my colleagues to ask one question and get one rapid response here.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SCHROCK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ambassador, I was with the first delegation that came over there and I know how grim the situation is, and in a war zone it can't be anything but that, and I understand that. Like Mr. Skelton and Mr. Taylor, I am concerned, too, that we don't have enough troops to put down some of the resistance we are finding, and I am really bothered by that, and I guess until that changes I am going to be convinced that maybe General Shinseki was right from the beginning and nobody's convinced me otherwise. And I know that is not your problem; that is clearly the military's problem.
This may have been asked. I just came in a few minutes ago. What motivations are driving the anti-American sentiment among the Iraqi people? Is the Baathist Party doing this?
And if so, do we have enough folks there to put down this resistance? Because I am getting tired of every day hearing another kid dying. I think it was an F16 that was shot down this morning. And I am just wondering at what point we get this all under control.
Ambassador BREMER. I think it was an Apache that was shot down this morning, unfortunately
Mr. SCHROCK. That is right, I am sorry, you are right, you are right.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ambassador BREMER. I think most of the anti-Americanism that we are seeing is, in fact, being preyed upon by the Baathists. There is understandable frustration by some Iraqis with the problems that have been associated with the restoration of basic services, so that has gotten a lot better. And we are seeing the Baathists sending down a lot of these unemployed people I mentioned earlier. The unemployment rate is well above 50 percent. So there are some understandable frustrations which the Baathists prey upon.
On the whole, when I travel around anyway, I find a great deal of affection for the United States, for its liberation. And people still come up to me with tears in their eyes thanking the Americans for liberating them.
So I am not too concerned about the broad view of the Iraqi people. I think they are basically very thankful for the job our young men and women did in freeing them from Saddam Hussein.
Mr. SCHROCK. Great, that is wonderful to hear. Thank you very much, Mr. Ambassador.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Mr. Schrock.
And, Mr. Ambassador, we just have two members left with questions, Mr. Ryan and Mr. Kline.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RYAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I appreciate the opportunity to be here. I appreciate you having this. And I apologize for not being here; I had a markup in the Education Committee.
Mr. Ambassador, just one question. I have a question about the clerics there and exactly how much control they have over some of the citizens that are there. And are they being helpful or are they an impediment to what you are trying to do over there? And if they are being an impediment, exactly how much control do they have over the citizens over there?
Ambassador BREMER. Well, first, Congressman, one has to make a distinction between the Sunni and the Shiite clerics.
My impression is that, on the whole, most of the Sunni clerics have been quite supportive of our broad goal of establishing representative government here.
I think it is also true that the majority of Shiites are supportive. I have had a number of meetings with some of the leading ayatollahs in the country, both here in Baghdad and in other parts of the country. And I found them supportive of a representative democracy, in many cases saying they want to be sure that there is not too much emphasis on Islam in the eventual constitution. Most of the Iraqi Shiites that I am familiar with anyway are broadly supportive of our objectives. And indeed, I think that is a strength of our position here now as we go forward in this political process.
Mr. RYAN. Thank you.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you.
We are going to lose the satellite feed very shortly. So in advance, Mr. Ambassador, Mr. Skelton, myself and the Armed Services Committee thank you for being with us. We really appreciate it. Let's do it again, and we will keep working the technical problems.
Mr. Kline is one of our junior members, but has enormous military expertise, like Mr. Schrock.
Mr. Kline, you got any questions?
Mr. KLINE. Yes, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Because we are going to lose the feed, let me just ask very briefly, Mr. Ambassador, how do you see the role of nongovernmental organizations unfolding, NGOs? Are they going to be actively involved and what is the status of that?
Ambassador BREMER. Well, I certainly hope they will be actively involved, because they can play a very important role in re-establishing the elements of civic society which are so important in the strength behind any democracy. Helping out with associations, women's associations, professionals, the bar associations, even the sports federation; all of these were fairly politicized by Saddam and they need to be revived and brought back to life.
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So we are hoping that we have lots of NGOs, particularly in those areas, and in health and in humanitarian assistance.
Mr. KLINE. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
The CHAIRMAN. I thank the gentleman.
Mr. Skelton, did you have any final words for the ambassador before we leave?
Mr. SKELTON. Mr. Ambassador, just a special word of thanks and nudges for being with us this morning. But for the successful efforts I know that you are going to fulfill there, as Dr. Snyder mentioned a few moments ago, the eyes of the world are on you. All we want to do is encourage you, give any help that we can. So carry on and God bless.
Ambassador BREMER. Thank you.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. We will see you soon.
Ambassador BREMER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. And the hearing is adjourned.
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[Whereupon, at 10:45 a.m., the committee was adjourned.]