Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Perspective: Losing Iraq, one truckload at a time

FORT BENNING, Georgia: The level of corruption in the Iraq Security Forces is staggering. The Iraq Study Group found that $5 billion to $7 billion is lost annually to different types of corruption, and yet "there are still no examples of senior officials who have been brought before a court and convicted of corruption charges." The result: "Economic development is hobbled by insecurity, corruption, lack of investment, dilapidated infrastructure and uncertainty."

Yet of the study group's 79 recommendations, only two are much relevant to this problem, and no anticorruption milestones to be achieved were set forth. Having served in Iraq, I find this very disappointing.

While I can't of course speak officially for the Pentagon, I can describe what I saw and give my own thoughts on how to improve things.

The most prominent forms of corruption I saw were Iraqi commanders pocketing the paychecks of nonexistent troops in the Iraqi army and officers in the police forces, and customs officials abetting the smuggling of oil and precious rebuilding supplies across Iraq's porous borders.

Read the rest at the International Herald Tribune