Thursday, July 28, 2005

Costly Security in Iraq

Reports from the GAO and the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction show rebuilding efforts in Iraq are being short changed due to high security costs. Up to 36% of funds for rebuilding are being used for providing security on some projects while other projects are scrapped all together due to the prohibitive cost of securing the projects.
For instance, in March, the U.S. Agency for International Development canceled two electric power generation programs to provide $15 million in additional security elsewhere. On another project to rehabilitate electric substations, the Army Corps of Engineers decided that securing 14 of the 23 facilities would be too expensive and limited the entire project to nine stations. And in February, USAID added $33 million to cover higher security costs on one project, which left it short of money to pay for construction oversight, quality assurance and administrative costs.
"If we didn't have a bunch of extremists running around trying to derail the progress of the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people and the coalition, the amount of money spent on security would be far less," said Lt. Col. Barry Venable, a Pentagon spokesman. "It is a fact of life, one which cannot be wished away."

So the reports confirms that Flypaper and Reconstruction don't mix well. I wonder which policy has priority...Redevelopment or Bring Em On.

And the cost doesn't stop there. From USA Today. "Thirty percent of U.S. troops surveyed have developed stress-related mental health problems three to four months after coming home from the Iraq war, the Army's surgeon general said Thursday."
Truck drivers and convoy guards in Iraq are developing mental health problems in greater numbers than other troops, Ritchie said, suggesting the long hours on the road, constantly under threat of attack, are taking their toll.
Ritchie said mental health cases ebb and flow during a war, and suggested they are sometimes connected to a soldier's sense of success of the larger war effort.

Given security costs are making deep cuts in the success of reconstruction, a soldier's sense of a succeeding war effort must be challenged. Wingers continually whine about a lack of "good news reporting" but gov't reports confirm there's not much with which to work.

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