“I am absolutely certain that our presence there is making a difference in liberating the people of Iraq,” said Kuhl, R-Hammondsport, after meeting with New York soldiers and top Iraqi and U.S. officials in Baghdad and at Balad Airbase in northern Iraq.”
But, in the meantime, we have this:
Two top U.S. generals said yesterday that the sectarian violence in Iraq is much worse than they had ever anticipated and could lead to civil war, arguing that improving the situation is now more a matter of Iraqi political will than of U.S. military strategy.
The testimony from Abizaid and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace, was the military’s most dire assessment of conditions in Iraq since the war began 40 months ago. It echoed the opinion of Britain’s outgoing ambassador to Iraq, who, in a confidential memo revealed yesterday, told Prime Minister Tony Blair that a de facto partition of Iraq is more likely than a transition to democracy.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld called the Iraq violence “unfortunate” and “tragic.”
Both generals before the committee said they could not say when the insurgency would be defeated, when Iraqi militias might be disbanded, when Iraqi forces would be strong enough to fight on their own, or when U.S. troops could begin to withdraw. Abizaid said he expects Iraq to “move toward equilibrium . . . in the next five years.”
The Senate intelligence committee wants a new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq. “It’s clear that current sectarian violence and increased militia attacks are endangering efforts to achieve stability in Iraq,” Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) said in a statement. (What are the chances that this request will be approved? We shall see…)
“I think our tax dollars are being well spent,” he said.
Not in the case of an important 31 mile pipeline reconstruction project in northern Iraq.
“There is no reasonable assurance that project construction will meet the standards of the design because the U.S. government’s processes to independently verify project completeness and quality were ineffective,” the authors wrote in a report released Monday.
The project, managed by the Army Corps of Engineers, is just the latest in a series of projects that have gone awry. The U.S.-funded reconstruction program in Iraq has been plagued by cost overruns and schedule setbacks, in large part because of security concerns but also because of flawed management and poor planning. Projects to build medical centers, prisons and power stations have all fallen short of projections. Now, the U.S.-directed portion of the reconstruction is wrapping up, and control is being transferred to the Iraqis.
No one knows when the project will be completed. A recent assessment by the Pentagon-led Project and Contracting Office, which oversees reconstruction, said one segment of the project was 80 percent complete. The Army Corps of Engineers said the same segment was only 10 percent finished.
… millions of dollars had been wasted by delays in the planning, design and construction of a pipeline from Kirkuk to Baiji that was intended to increase the flow of oil to 800000 barrels a day from 500000. It was supposed to be finished by March 2004.
“Construction delays resulted in the loss of approximately $14,8bn of potential revenue for the Iraqi government,” Bowen’s report said.
Halliburton’s KBR unit lost the pipeline contract in August 2004 to Parsons Iraq Joint Venture after it spent the entire $75,7m that was allocated for the work but completed only 28% of the work, Bowen wrote.
“You know you’re in a war zone, but interestingly enough, you forget it sometimes, ” Kuhl said. “Especially when you’re at a place like the Balad base, which takes up 15 square miles and is like its own little town. You see people walking around the PX (military store) buying shorts. Life goes on.”
It’s time to “change the course”; “staying the course” doesn’t seem to be working out as well as had been planned (or not so well planned, it seems.).