Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Picking Up the Pieces

[posted by Callimachus]

(continued from here.)

This is the second in a six-part series of posts was written by our friend Kat, the contractor's employee who worked on reconstruction projects in and around Iraq after the fall of Saddam. Her story is told here and here among other places (listed in the sidebar at left).

As far as I know, the only anti-Administration blogger to really take up these pieces and accept then into his broader view of the war was Kevin Robinson's My Thinking Corner.

Kevin asked Kat some questions about her impressions and her experiences, which she answered, with elaborations, at his site. With Kevin's permission, I'm reprinting her answers, lightly edited, as posts here, since they are interesting in their own right and they broaden and deepen the story she told in the series of posts last month.

Kevin's questions are in italics.

October 17

You can congratulate me, I think I’ve worked through presentation of a major contract as our front person, which for me is a nearly unbelievable first. Anyway, on to your questions and comments. I couldn’t answer them so briefly, so I’ve broken it up. Hope that works. I’m not a blogger.

“First question – How much of the contracting work in Iraq would you say is related to rebuilding things destroyed in Operation Iraqi Freedom and how much of it is related to fulfilling needs that existed before that? I don’t want this to sound like a loaded question because regardless of why we’ve taken on a particular project it’s still the right that we took it on.”

This depended on where you were in Iraq. The military primarily used air power to destroy air and heavy defenses and the command structure, so the communications system took a lot of damage, as did air defense locations. Other command and known military installations also took damage, but not all of them. These defenses were scattered pretty much everywhere, but often were suitable for destruction by precision weapons, so most of the damage is very isolated.

The power system was not a prime target, and you’ll recall most of the power stayed on in Baghdad for the majority of the initial battle. Water systems and bridges were also not specifically targeted. Beyond the humanitarian aspects of that, our own troops needed these systems intact as they advanced.

Still, there was sporadic heavy fighting on the ground. Wherever that occurred, damage varied from light to very heavy. It was a war, and Iraqi defensive positions took severe damage in several cases, as well as the roadways where U.S. troops were traveling. Obviously, there was collateral damage produced by both sides. An RPG that misses a tank can fly into the window of a hospital and blow it up, just like a tank round.

There are some places just outside of Baghdad where businesses and homes on both sides of the road are heavily damaged. These were places where Iraqi fighters attempted crossfire ambushes on advancing U.S. forces. But for the most part, severe damage during the war was relatively light, and most of it was simple and isolated in nature.

Iraqis have mostly patched up their own walls, cleaned up most of that debris, etc. As I understand, smaller amounts of cash were distributed to Iraqis through various means to help with the costs of doing the more significant work. Other such work was addressed during the course of road repair operations. Debris can still be found in lots of places, but then debris seems to be part of the standard Iraqi way of life, so it’s nothing new.

The vast majority of work in Iraq as it relates to U.S. expenses has been related to military servicing, initial repairs to services, and subsequent latent or unforeseen repair requirements.

Third Part

Fourth Part

Fifth Part

Sixth Part