GAO Submits Iraq Reports to Congress Prior to Bush Speech
by Jim Kouri, CPP
As the United States reviews its plans to secure, stabilize, and rebuild Iraq, the Government Accountability Office submitted several reports forCongressional consideration in developing its oversight agenda for the 110th Congress and analyzing the President's revised strategy for Iraq. On Wednesday night, President George W. Bush is expected to reveal his new strategy in a televised speech to the American people.
These reports and papers are based on the continuing work of the GAO and the 67 Iraq-related reports and testimonies they've provided to the US Congress since May 2003.
Iraq has had three successful elections, adopted a constitution, and installed its first elected government. At the same time, since the initial ground offensive ended in 2003, the costs to secure and stabilize Iraq have grown substantially, as has the level of violence that afflicts Iraqi society.
Such violence stems from an insurgency that has grown more complex and lethal over the past 3 and 1/2 years and the Sunni-Shi'a conflict, which escalated dramatically in 2006. This instability complicates meaningful political reconciliation among Iraq's religious and tribal groups, reduces the effectiveness of US and Iraqi reconstruction and capacity-building efforts, and diminishes the hopes and expectations of an Iraqi people without adequate jobs, water, fuel, and electricity.
Increasing Iraqi security forces and transferring security responsibilities to them have not resulted in reduced violence. Rather, attacks increased throughout 2006. Although more Iraqi troops have been trained and equipped, high absenteeism and divided loyalties have limited their overall effectiveness.
At the same time, US service members are working with great courage and diligence to perform the roles the President has asked of them. Notwithstanding their noble efforts, the US military has sustained what are considered by many to be significant casualties.
In addition, wear and tear on military equipment and growing replacement costs have risen substantially. The resulting stress and strain on American forces have reduced troop readiness levels and the availability of reserve personnel. The US rebuilding effort in Iraq has focused on helping the Iraqi government establish a sound economy with the capacity to deliver essential services. Although Iraq's economy has grown and US efforts have helped restore portions of Iraq's infrastructure, the poor security environment and mismanagement have diminished the overall results of US investments.
Iraq will need US and international support, including political and economic incentives, to strengthen its fragile government institutions, which have thus far failed to adequately deter corruption, stimulate employment, or deliver essential services.
The GAO reports to Congress discuss these issues and other critical challenges that the United States and its allies face in the ongoing struggle to help the Iraqis stabilize, secure, and rebuild Iraq.
Congress and the American people need complete and transparent information on the progress made toward achieving US security, economic, and diplomatic goals in Iraq to reasonably judge past efforts and determine future directions. It is also important that the US government account for the funds that it expended on behalf of the Iraqi government through the Development Fund for Iraq.
Sources: Government Accountability Office, US Congress, US Department of Defense, National Security Institute
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.