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Focus Shifts to Rebuilding Iraq Posted:4.16.03
As the U.S. begins withdrawing aircraft carriers and bombers from the Persian Gulf, signaling a slowing of military activity in the region, coalition forces have begun focusing their efforts on the reconstruction of Iraq.
"We are responding to the immediate needs of the population, securing and repairing public works and resources," said Central Command Deputy Director Gen. Vincent Brooks at his daily press briefing on Wednesday.
Aiding Iraq's reconstruction
Though military action continues in parts of Iraq, with troops searching for former leaders of Saddam Hussein's regime and clashing with anti-American demonstrators, the drive to rebuild Iraq is gaining momentum.
In a speech in St. Louis on Wednesday, President George W. Bush said that while U.S. and British troops still face risks, the military's focus now is on providing security, humanitarian aid and emergency supplies to the war-devastated country.
Several European and Middle Eastern countries will set up field hospitals in Iraq, according to Mr. Bush, and the International Committee of the Red Cross has resumed relief work in Baghdad and other major cities.
Bush said he also expects the United Nations to lift economic sanctions on Iraq, which were imposed after Saddam's army invaded the neighboring country of Kuwait in 1990.
Building a new government
Along with plans to rebuild the country's buildings and roads, the U.S.-led coalition has outlined a strategy to build a new, democratic government in Iraq.
A taskforce, led by former U.S. General Jay Garner, met this week to outline plans for an interim government that would control Iraq until Iraqis themselves organize free elections. Those plans could take up to six months, according to Garner.
Altogether, the Iraq War has cost the U.S. $20 billion and 125 casualties, according to the Defense Department, compared to approximately $8 billion and 293 casualties during the 1991 Gulf War.
Keeping troops in the region for the next few months could cost an
additional $2 billion a month.
U.S. Central Command - (n.) Headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, United States Central Command (USCENTCOM) is one of nine Unified Combatant Commands assigned operational control of U.S. combat forces. A Unified Combatant Command is composed of forces from two or more services, has a broad and continuing mission, and is normally organized on a geographical basis into regions known as "Areas Of Responsibility" (AORs). USCENTCOM's AOR stretches from the Horn of Africa to Central Asia. (www.centcom.mil)
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