- The Washington Times - Monday, December 22, 2003

The Coalition Provisional Authority in charge of Iraq has failed to institute a smoothly run bureaucracy, resulting in cash shortages and delays in starting reconstruction programs, Pentagon officials say in interviews.

The Baghdad-based authority’s lack of cohesion has prompted some soldiers in Iraq to joke that its acronym, CPA, stands for “Can’t Produce Anything.”

Officials say part of the problem is that the 8-month-old CPA, under control of former ambassador L. Paul Bremer, is both a civilian and military institution. With different cultures, the two professional groups have different ways of operating. Thus, the staff of about 1,000 has yet to gel, said the officials, who asked not to be identified.

One particularly critical assessment is contained in a confidential report now circulating in the Pentagon. It was prepared by an official who recently traveled to Baghdad.

The official’s written briefing says in part: “There is no mechanism for top-level decisions to be translated to … action. Thus, there is a gap between strategy intent and tactical execution. There’s no one checking anyone’s work. There is no mechanism to ensure top-level decisions are followed through by staff echelons. Thus, there is a lack of internal unity of action. Resources, particularly personnel, are unavailable or poorly matched to needs.”

A Pentagon official confirmed this excerpt, but declined to say which defense agency received the report.

“My own view is there are a lot of good people doing the best they can, but acting independently,” this source said.

Officials say an example of the CPA’s lack of cohesion occurred in recent weeks.

One critical program to winning the hearts and minds of Iraqis is the Army’s ability to hand out cash. The money goes to rebuild or fix up schools, hospitals, water supplies and other important civil works projects. Last month, most commanders ran out of money. The CPA was using dollars seized from Saddam Hussein’s regime and its loyalists, but the fund dried up.

Finally, Mr. Bremer and senior Pentagon officials intervened. Money was found in an Iraqi oil-for-food account and in U.S.-budgeted taxpayer funds.

“I’m really convinced it’s been fixed,” said one Pentagon source. “But it took an awful lot of intervention.”

A Pentagon spokesman, who asked not to be named, said Mr. Bremer is focusing on how to enable Iraqis to govern themselves in time for the planned turnover of power to interim rulers June 30. What he still lacks, the spokesman said, are skilled contractors willing to go out into the dangerous countryside to perform infrastructure-improvement projects. For now, the military is doing most of them.

“The CPA overall is doing a terrific job,” the spokesman said. “You’ve got people out there from all walks of life who are paying salaries, repairing schools, delivering food and opening hospitals.”

The Pentagon and State Department are now examining just how the CPA will relinquish its powers. Pentagon sources say Mr. Bremer may choose to leave his post once the transition is completed.

A Pentagon source said military-civilian friction began early inside the CPA. In one instance, civilians wanted more U.S. troops dedicated to fixing and protecting power plants and transmission lines. These targets are under constant surveillance and attack by Saddam Hussein loyalists.

But commanders argued they needed every available serviceman in the 130,000-member force to fight insurgents. This problem was eventually alleviated by training more Iraqi security personnel and putting them out into the field.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has repeatedly said his commanders tell him they have sufficient troops in Iraq for rebuilding and for counterinsurgency.

Officials refused to blame Mr. Bremer, the man who announced the Dec. 13 capture of Saddam with the historic words,”We got him.”

Mr. Rumsfeld rushed Mr. Bremer to Baghdad in May once it became clear that post-Saddam Iraq would not be as welcoming as some administration officials predicted.

“Bremer himself is a man of tremendous good will, but he can’t do it all by himself,” said a Pentagon official.

To help Mr. Bremer get his vision carried out down the chain of command, the Pentagon earlier this month coaxed retired Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Kellogg out of the private sector and sent him to Baghdad. Gen. Kellogg, who remains a civilian, has the title of Mr. Bremer’s deputy for security and energy reconstruction.

In practice, he is now the CPA’s No. 2 man, a chief of staff who will try to make the CPA more cohesive.

Gen. Kellogg, an Airborne soldier, impressed Mr. Rumsfeld when the general directed the unit of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon that deals with command and communications issues.

Said the Pentagon spokesman, “[Gen. Kellogg] will add a lot of management expertise to the situation.”

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