Correction to This Article
Earlier versions of this story gave an incorrect figure for Iraqi oil production. Oil production stands at roughly 2 million barrels a day, compared with 2.6 million before U.S. troops entered Iraq in March 2003, according to U.S. government statistics. This story has been updated to reflect that corrected information.
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U.S. Has End in Sight on Iraq Rebuilding

"In a lot of places, the infrastructure is as good as it was at prewar levels, which is satisfactory, but it's not the ultimate aim. The ultimate aim is for the infrastructure to be the best in the region," Bush said.

U.S. officials at the time promised a steady supply of 6,000 megawatts of electricity and a return to oil production output of 2.5 million barrels a day, within months.

But the insurgency changed everything.

"Good morning, gentlemen," a security contractor in shirt-sleeves said crisply late last week, launching into a security briefing in what amounts to a reconstruction war room in Baghdad's Green Zone, home to much of the Iraqi government.

Other private security contractors hunched over desks in front of him, learning the state of play for what would be roughly 200 missions that day to serve the 865 U.S. reconstruction projects underway -- taking inspectors to work sites, guarding convoys of building materials or escorting dignitaries to see works in progress, among other jobs.

A screen overhead detailed the previous day's 70 or so attacks on private, military and Iraqi security forces. The briefer noted bombs planted in potholes, rigged in cars, hidden in the vests of suicide attackers. There were also mortar attacks and small-arms fire. The briefer also noted miles of roads rendered impassable or where travel was inadvisable owing to attacks, and some of the previous day's toll in terms of dead and wounded.

Colored blocks on the screen marked convoys en route, each tracked by transponders and equipped with panic buttons.

To one side, a TV monitor scrolled out the day's news, including McCoy's remark to reporters that December was the worst month on record for Iraqi contractors working on reconstruction, with more killed, wounded or kidnapped than during any other month since the U.S. invasion.

"For every three steps forward, we take one step back. Those are the conditions we face," said Col. Bjarne Iverson, commander of the reconstruction operations center. He followed with a comment often used by American authorities in Iraq: "There are people who just want us to fail here."

The heavy emphasis on security, and the money it would cost, had not been anticipated in the early months of the U.S. occupation. In January 2004, after the first disbursements of the $18.4 billion reconstruction package, the United States planned only $3.2 billion to build up Iraq's army and police. But as the insurgency intensified, money was shifted from other sectors, including more than $1 billion earmarked for electricity, to build a police force and army capable of combating foreign and domestic guerrillas.

In addition to training and equipping police and soldiers, money has been spent for special operations and quick-response forces, commandos and other special police, as well as public-order brigades, hostage-rescue forces, infrastructure guards and other specialized units.

In the process, the United States will spend $437 million on border fortresses and guards, about $100 million more than the amount dedicated to roads, bridges and public buildings, including schools. Education programs have been allocated $99 million; the United States is spending $107 million to build a secure communications network for security forces.

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