Monday, January 20, 2003

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (UPI) — Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has tapped a retired Army officer to head the Pentagon office planning for a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, Rumsfeld said Monday.

Garner is “beginning the process of thinking through all things necessary for Iraq,” Rumsfeld told a Reserve Officers Association conference in Washington.

Rumsfeld once again laid out the administration’s case against Saddam and sounded a warning note that war is drawing nearer — within weeks, rather than months.

“Clearly, in the case of Iraq, we are nearing the end of a long

road, where every other option has been exhausted,” Rumsfeld said. “No one wants war…. Either they will cooperate or they won’t. And it won’t take months to make that judgment.”

Garner has experience directly applicable to the job. Just after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, then-Maj. Gen. Garner commanded a task force comprised mostly of Marines that created a welcome station for more than a million Kurds fleeing an Iraqi crackdown. He was also responsible for facilitating their eventual return back to their homes. In doing so, Garner worked closely with non-governmental organizations to quickly extricate the U.S. military from long-term humanitarian work.

“There will be an immediate task for the U.S. military,” Rumsfeld acknowledged to the audience.

Most of the planning for a post-Saddam Iraq has centered thus far at the State Department, where officials have set up at least six different working groups.

Immediately after a war, if there is one, the U.S. military will have to ensure that all the weapons of mass destruction — chemical, biological and nuclear materials — are located and destroyed, maintain Iraq’s borders and prevent a “land grab” by Kurdish and Shi’a minorities, and see to it that some level of democratic reform takes place.

“It’ll have to be something uniquely Iraqi,” Rumsfeld said. “I think, when (Saddam) isn’t there an Iraqi advisory element will be constituted.”

Iraq experts told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last year that as many as 75,000 American troops will have to remain behind in Iraq.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated last fall that rebuilding and occupation of Iraq could cost the United States as between $1 billion and $4 billion a month, depending on the number of troops involved. Rumsfeld suggested Monday that money from Iraq’s vast oil resources will greatly help in reconstruction.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell suggested in December that protecting the oil fields from Iraqi sabotage will be critical.

“If coalition forces go into those oil fields, we would want to protect those fields and make sure that they are used to benefit the people of Iraq, and are not destroyed or damaged by a failing regime on the way out the door,” he said Dec. 29, according to The New York Times. The Times reported in December that the Pentagon is planning on maintaining a troop presence in Iraq for 18 months.

In Iraq Monday, U.S. forces dropped 360,000 leaflets over six cities in southern Iraq listing radio frequencies to listen to for American messages. All of the cities were less than 225 miles from the capital Baghdad. It was the fifth leaflet drop this month.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide