Briefing on Humanitarian Relief Planning for Iraq
NEWS TRANSCRIPT from the United States Department of Defense
DoD News Briefing Joseph J. Collins, DASD (Stability Operations) Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2003
(Briefing on humanitarian relief planning for Iraq.)
Staff: Well, thank you all for attending this afternoon.
As you know, the president has not made a decision on the use of military force with respect to Iraq, but military planning continues, and a very important part of that military planning is preparing to deliver humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people while also conducting military operations.
The department has been working with other agencies for some months now on a relief strategy. Our goal would be to minimize the displacement of Iraqi people, limit any damage to infrastructure, and avoid the disruption of services to the greatest extent possible.
Today, Dr. Joe Collins, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for stability operations, and Colonel Thomas Hayden, a subject matter expert from the Joint Staff, are here to brief you on what DOD is doing to prepare to meet the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people, should military force be necessary to disarm Saddam Hussein.
Collins: Before we get going, I'd just like to introduce a few people. And first, as you saw him standing up here, is Tom Hayden. Tom is one of the senior planners on the Joint Staff; a former football player from West Point, a dyed-in-the-wool infantryman, and someone who's made a great impact on all the Iraqi planning. And in the back there, hiding behind the pillow is Dr. Dave Tarantino, a Navy medical officer; and Roger Corneretto over here. Raise your hand, Roger. Roger's from J-7. Both of those fellows were on the humanitarian planning team which developed the details of the plan that I'm going to brief you -- or I'm going to brief you on the outline of the plan, and they developed the details, which I'm not going to brief you on. But they've also done great work. This has been a real team effort. And so I don't want to stand up here and pretend that this has been the work of one man or one shop.
Ladies and gentlemen, if the president orders military action in Iraq, the U.S. armed forces and our coalition partners will be prepared for any military eventuality. The Defense Department will also be prepared to support humanitarian relief efforts during a potential conflict, and to support reconstruction efforts after the conflict.
To meet the requirements associated with relief and reconstruction, defense experts have been engaged for the past five months, along with the Department of State, AID [U.S. Agency for International Development] and many other agencies, in planning for humanitarian relief and reconstruction.
The briefing today is concerned with humanitarian relief and the Department of Defense's role in it. In subsequent days, there will be detailed briefings on reconstruction.
Next slide, please.
Let's start by looking at the current humanitarian situation in Iraq. As you can see from the gray-shaded slide on the right-hand portion of the screen, Iraq is in poor shape. This is in itself an indictment of Saddam's regime. We can see, as we look down the numbers, a sharp dip in income, declining life expectancy, and a drastic increase in infant mortality.
Shifting to the left-hand side of the slide, we see in the center bullet that Iraq is very dependent on what there is listed as OFF, which is the oil-for-food program. Iraq has started -- Iraq today grows very little of its own food. Most of the people in Iraq get their food through the U.N. offices, and the ministries, in fact, control the oil-for-food program. The bottom two bullets suggest that there are already a large number of displaced people in Iraq, roughly about 1.5 million in and around Iraq.
In the event of conflict, the U.S. government is devoting unprecedented attention to humanitarian relief and the prevention of excessive damage to infrastructure and to unnecessary casualties. However, what happens in this war to a large degree will be -- will depend on what Saddam Hussein does.
Next slide, please.
This is a list of heinous measures. Each and every one on this list is, in fact, a war crime. And it reminds us that Saddam Hussein and his thugs can complicate the provision of humanitarian relief. The pictures, which you may not be able to see clearly, are of exploded oil wells and ecological terrorism done in 1991.
We believe the conflict in -- a potential conflict in Iraq would have three broad impacts. First, it would increase displacement of populations, mostly toward the borders. It would interrupt the oil- for-food program. And it would, to some degree, disrupt electrical supply, which in turn could have an effect on water and health services. We also know that most U.N. agencies, most U.N. employees, and many of the NGOs will evacuate in the case of war. All of these things together place significant demands on those people who are engaged in humanitarian relief.
This slide shows the key principles that guide U.S. government humanitarian relief planning. Let me say a few words about them.
First, the first one, minimizing displacement and damage and disruption of services, we will do this by three methods. The Department of Defense is engaging in careful targeting to ensure the minimum amount of damage. Secondly, we're engaged in what we call humanitarian mapping, where we are acquiring the information to ensure that our combat forces know where the enemy is and where NGO international facilities and other facilities that have a humanitarian impact are. Thirdly, we are engaged in detailed cooperation with the international organizations and the nongovernmental organizations.
The second and third bullets on the slide suggest an important fact of life. The nongovernmental organizations and the United Nations are the heavy lifters in the field of humanitarian relief. Our job is not to supplant the NGOs and the international organizations; our job is to get them back to work as soon as possible.
I'll talk about the last three bullets in the next few slides.
Our goal to limit human suffering is clear. We will accomplish it by creating humanitarian space, facilitating U.N. and NGO operations, by providing relief as forces advance, by using civilian disaster assistance response teams -- DART teams -- and civil-military operations centers. In other words, what I'm saying here is that as our forces advance, our DART teams and our civil-military operations centers will move in behind them to begin to take control of the humanitarian situation.
And finally, we will assist with -- in the beginning with USG, U.S. government, relief supplies initially, and then by funding the U.N. and the NGOs.
Let me say a few words about DOD and the NGOs, and then a few words about relief supplies.
This slide -- next slide, please.
This slide makes very clear one fact. DOD is not the lead agency for humanitarian relief. It is not the face that the NGOs expect to see as they begin to coordinate with the U.S. government on humanitarian issues. We recognize the unparalleled expertise of the NGOs and the United Nations, and thus, we will continue in our efforts to get them back on the job as soon as possible after the war ends and continue our extensive outreach.
A lot of questions about relief supplies yesterday in the briefing over in the White House. There is an intense effort, not just by the U.S. government, but also by international organizations, to stockpile humanitarian supplies for any potential conflict in Iraq. The U.S. government is stockpiling relief supplies for up to a million people; that's non-food.
On the food end, DOD has brought with it three million humanitarian daily rations; they're located in Kuwait and other countries. We've also made grants to the World Food Program so they can begin to bring in other kinds of food.
We're also funding contractors and working with commercial transportation assets to make sure that military forces who are using the local resources are not going to make it impossible for humanitarian relief to take place.
In conclusion -- next slide -- DoD's approach is an inter-agency approach, one that recognizes the importance of international organizations and NGOs and our coalition partners and encourages also the contribution and participation of as many nations as possible, international organizations, NGOs and the U.N., should war become necessary.
I will stop there, and I will take your questions.
Q: Could you elaborate on what you mean by humanitarian space?
Collins: Essentially, what we're -- the term doesn't really have a precise meaning. It essentially means that we will be creating areas behind the front lines where we can begin, as soon as possible, to perform humanitarian relief activities. And these things are somewhat scenario-dependent. It may well be, as you might suspect, if a war does take place, that large portions of the country could be liberated while conflict continues in others.
Q: Could you talk to us about the funding, and what your assumptions are? I know that obviously the assumptions about casualties and injuries and medical care and food and water is going to be dependent on how the war is going, but I assume that you've been working within a range of areas on that to do your planning. So could you talk to us about what that range has been guiding your five months of planning and the funding you have, particularly the grant to the World Food Program?
Collins: Most of the funding issues are for State and AID. What I do know of monies that have been spent already is that the State Department has made grants of up to 15 million to IOs [international organizations]. USAID has made grants of $9 million, and is planning to make grants of another $56 million in the near future. Those are appropriated monies. Those are monies that are already in the possession of these agencies.
Other than that, supplementals are being prepared, and that sort of falls under the rule of not talking about budgetary levels until budgets have gone through the agencies and been approved by the president.
Q: Scope of the problem that you're dealing with?
Collins: The scope of the problem? In terms of the budget?
Q: No, in terms of casualties and refugees, and what are your going-in assumptions?
Collins: In refugees, the assumption, which is not an absolute worst case but is a bad case, as was noted yesterday at the White House press conference, is a couple of million, two million. And that would include IDPs [internally displaced persons] and refugees.
Q: And casualties?
Collins: And casualties? We're not in the business of making casualty estimates. I've heard some outlandish figures yesterday. I can tell you that we're doing our absolute level best to ensure that the number of casualties from military activities will be as low as humanly possible.
Q: Got that, but you obviously have been planning for some kind of a number, so that you can have medical supplies in the works and in following in and -- (inaudible). What are you dealing with?
Collins: We have not planned on a deliberate number of casualties in the civilian population, and that's not been part of our methodology of planning.
Q: So how do you plan if you don't have a number?
Q: What metric do you use?
Collins: What metric do we use for what subject?
Q: For, say, let's say, casualties. I know this is a sticky issue for you guys, and I'm aware that you don't want a headline tomorrow coming out, saying, "Pentagon plans on 8 million Iraqi civilian casualties." But it strains belief just that you all can be planning for five months and not be thinking, "Okay, this is a worst- case scenario. What do we need to have on hand -- medically, water -- in the event that that happened?"
Collins: A lot of that's been done, but I honestly do not know that anyone has ever said that this would arise -- this war or this scenario would result in so many enemy -- so many Iraqi civilian casualties. I haven't seen that.
Most of the planning that's been done in that area has been done in using sort of multiple scenarios. There are sort of, you know -- as you know, there are all kinds of risk assessments that are made and all kinds of damage assessments that have been made. And that planning is mostly in the reconstruction end of this. But I honestly don't know a number that I could hang my hat or your hat on.
Q: What role do you see for the Iraqi folks who are being trained in --
Q: -- yeah, Hungary; thank you -- as far as in civil security forces and police, that kind of thing?
Collins: Those people would certainly be adjuncts to our forces and be particularly useful for working with our civil affairs and with our post-conflict peace enforcement forces that will be out there.
Q: What preparations are you making for possible use of chemical or biological weapons, you know, either against or affecting a civilian population?
Collins: There is a detailed set of consequence management planning activities that's gone on. Those activities were not done by our group. So I'm not prepared to brief you on that.
Q: But if that were to happen, wouldn't that be a major humanitarian disaster that you would have to deal with?
Collins: Absolutely. Absolutely. But because it's so closely connected with the problem of the battlefield use of chemical weapons, the issue of consequence management was handled by different planning teams.
Q: But is that going to be done by the military? I mean, will the military be dealing with civilian casualties on the battlefield if this happens? And isn't that what --
Collins: That would take military assets, it would take civilian assets, and certainly it would take coalition assets, potentially could even involve hospitals in the region or outside the region, as well. And again, I don't want to go into areas that our team hasn't worked on.
Q: Do you have an estimate on the number of military -- U.S. military personnel who would be involved in a humanitarian operation in a post-conflict situation? And how many would be involved in providing security in the country in that immediate post-war period?
Collins: I don't have that number. The security business would be done by another group. I can say that by way of AID and civil affairs -- by way of civil affairs people involved with the plan, a few thousand is a good, round number. And AID will also have a large contingent, at least 60 of who will be working directly with the troops and very, very close to the front lines.
Q: Sir, did that include these folks that you're talking about in the disaster assistance response teams and --
Q: -- the civil-military operations centers?
Q: Okay. What sort of functions would these guys actually do, the civil-military operations center. Would they run hospitals? Would they run water works?
Collins: Obviously, our civil affairs people have almost unlimited functions when it comes to dealing with problems with the civilian population that they find on the battlefield. But the kinds of things that they would normally deal with would be serving as liaison between the military and the NGOs or the military and the local population. That's sort of the most typical kinds of function. In some areas, they might be actually engaged in humanitarian assistance. And although they're not sort of equipped with large numbers of field medical personnel on their own, they certainly could be a conduit to make sure that there was some problem and that it was being addressed either by a civilian facility or a military medical facility.
Q Yes, sir. You mentioned -- actually, in addition to humanitarian aid, you mentioned displacement. Would displaced Iraqis be relocated? And a separate question: How often does the DOD conduct meetings with these humanitarian organizations?
Collins: The second question I'll take first because there have been a lot of misstatements in the press about both other members of the planning team and DOD in terms of the NGOs.
The primary interface between the U.S. government and the NGOs is USAID, and in particular OFDA in AID. That's the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. They are now meeting with the NGOs on a weekly basis. My office has met with groups of NGOs organized by Interaction roughly nine times since February of 2002, six times since October of 2002. I don't have detailed minutes of those meetings because we try to not to create those minutes and to stay on sort of background so that we can communicate widely amongst ourselves. But my guess is that we have had at least six detailed conversations with members of Interaction on the issue of Iraq and related subjects.
I have to say this: the NGOs, of course, are operation -- are ultimately not lobbyists, they're ultimately operational groups. Their thirst for information, like the thirst of reporters, is endless. There is almost no amount of information we could give them that they would walk away and say, "Yes, we're satisfied, we now know enough." I attended a meeting yesterday where a leading NGO figure suggested that what the NGOs really needed was the humanitarian and civil affairs annexes from the war plan. To the best of my knowledge, we've never given those out to people.
Q: --- in Afghanistan they were given out.
Collins: That was not the annex to the war plan. I was intimately involved in that, and there is no such thing that was ever given to the NGOs.
Q: To what extent do you anticipate the use of airdrops like you did at the beginning of Afghanistan for HDRs, [humanitarian daily rations] and how effective do you think they would be?
Collins: My guess is that in this case we -- most of the use of HDRs that would be necessary would not involve airdrops. It is, of course, possible. And if you have remote locations, you know, we know how to do that, and we've known that before Afghanistan.
Q: Will there be any humanitarian aid packages to countries that might be affected from the influx of refugees? And can you give me, like, a more-or-less figure of how much you do estimate the whole humanitarian relief effort is going to cost?
Collins: Don't know the answer to the last question. It's a great question. I think State and AID could probably give you an answer based on whatever scenario you'd want to posit. But I don't have that right now because we're -- you know, we are in the support mode for this particular exercise.
In terms of the distribution of food and other related items to countries affected by the influx of refugees, yes that will be done. And primarily, it will be done, though, through international organizations, such as the High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Food Program and whatever.
Q: Can you talk a little bit more about these civilian disaster response -- assistance response teams? Are these going to be handfuls of people, or dozens or hundreds, or who's going to make them up?
Collins: The Disaster Assistance and Response Teams, the DART teams, are a part -- their parent headquarters in AID is OFDA, the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. There will be 60 of them, which is a very large DART team, and they will be divided into sub-teams. And they, of course, are not 60 people who would be out digging wells or folding bandages or whatever, but these are people who would be facilitators, who would be bringing -- and who would be facilitating resources moving into areas and whatever.
The transcript yesterday from the hearing -- which is, I think, on the White House website now, because I got an electronic copy of it today -- Andrew Natsios talked about it at some length. He's also talking today -- (chuckles) -- I think at the same time as this one here, which is probably why there aren't all that many reporters here, because he has a bigger portion of this particular mission than DOD does, and I'm sure there are lots of folks there listening to him.
Q: What will these people look like? Will they be wearing military uniforms? Will they be traveling in military equipment? Will they be bringing any sort of military face to the NGO --
Collins: I think they'll look a lot like you, minus the tie. (Laughs.) The members of the DART team are civilians; they will be in civilian clothes. And they will be the primary interface with NGOs and international organizations. They will be commingled with our civil-military operations centers, so they will -- and obviously, this will not be a rarity; in and around the battlefield, they will be with large numbers of people who will be in uniform. I don't anticipate that we will have anything like we had in Afghanistan, where at one point in time, we had a large number of SF [special forces] and civil affairs people who were in civilian clothes.
Q: Is this something that the NGOs have expressed any concern to you about, that that may draw any sort of undue threat to them, that --
Collins: Well, the NGOs, of course, you know, have -- we've talked about this at great length. And I think we've all sort of made -- we've made peace on it, or, at the very least, we've agreed that -- to disagree -- we've agreed to disagree.
The NGOs, of course, will be divided in many ways. But one way of dividing them will be to say, "How much risk are you prepared to accept?" Some of them literally want to be five steps behind the forces as they move in. Others are thinking that they will arrive after the last battles have been fought and, you know, all of the countryside is secure and whatever. So I think, you know, those that come in who have a high tolerance for risk -- and some of them, some international organizations, for example, are already there -- the Red Cross, Red Crescent, is already there and is not going to leave -- those folks, you know, have been in this situation before where they're in an environment where there's sort of a civil-military mix with a very high percentage of uniformed folks in it.
Q: Is the equipment all military? And can you put any sort of contours on how many planes, how many trucks, how many --
Collins: You mean for the DART teams?
Collins: Their personal equipment is all civilian, and it comes with them from their warehouses, which are located in various and sundry different places. They are also experts at using contracts to get whatever resources they need in any one particular place, which is why when you say there are 60 members on the DART team, it may not sound a lot, but these are 60 people with checkbooks and who have been in these situations before and are used to working around the edges of conflict situations or, even worse, natural disasters.
Q: The civil-military operations center, that's staffed by military?
Collins: Civil-military operations centers. That's the military (portion ?), right.
I was unclear on your answer to Jim about the chemical and biological scenario. Does the DOD consider it its core mission to provide disaster relief in the event that a civilian population is impacted by those weapons, or does it not?
Collins: I'm not sure -- I'm not sure what your definition of a core mission is.
Q: Do you think it's your job, or do you think, no, this is another area where we've got the NGOs --
Collins: It's sort of obviously an implied task; that, you know, if you are in a combat situation and in front of you there is a terrible incident where, deliberately or not deliberately, weapons of mass destruction are used or there's some kind of toxic exposure to a large number of civilians, that's something that's going to have to be dealt with. And the first people that will have to deal with that will have to be your combat troops. They will quickly try and turn as much of that over as possible to their logisticians and their medical personnel, who will quickly try and turn that over to civilian authorities -- NGOs, international organizations. My guess, and this is somewhat speculative, is that this would involve the host nation medical facilities in any number of countries in the general region.
Q: If I may follow up one more thing. I think anyone looking at this will do some simple math, and I think -- I expect to go out of here and hear this criticism which is, great, you've got 3 million humanitarian daily rations -- enough rations for a third of the population we expect to be starving, for one day of this war. What would you say to people that suggest that DOD is not planning to do enough?
Collins: Yes. And you know, I'm glad you brought that up, because I should have made that clear in the briefing. Humanitarian daily rations are a tool of last resort. Many of you remember them from the Afghan war. The joke about the HDRs is that they're like an MRE [meal ready-to-eat] without taste, which is kind of funny, because the MREs are not famous for being very tasty. They're vegetarian meals. They're extremely unpopular with everyone who eats them. However, they're also extremely nutritious. And in extremis, they are a fantastic way of feeding large numbers of people.
However, we're obviously looking, first and foremost, to the World Food Program, and they are being funded as such, to -- in conjunction with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, that they would come in and do a lot of the serious feeding work. We're obviously not planning on feeding everybody all the time on HDRs.
Q: I notice they're still yellow. There was talk during Afghanistan --
Collins: Yes. There was an alleged problem. We were never able to document that it actually happened -- that someone, allegedly a child, in Afghanistan picked up a yellow cluster bomb unit and thinking it was an HDR. Although we were not able to ever verify that particular story, the department's leadership decided to change the color of the HDR. After an extensive look at colors and whatever -- it was sort of like picking out drapes for a while there; people were showing up with huge swatches of colors for folks to look at -- the -- this is the color they've settled on. It -- we called it salmon in the beginning. People said don't eat salmon if it's that color. So they call it now apricot.
We did not do away with our yellow HDRs.
Q: (Off mike.)
Collins: Yeah. Don't eat an apricot that looks like that either! (Laughter.)
We did not do away with our yellow HDRs. They're roughly five bucks apiece. And there was really no way of taking them out of one bag and putting them in another without creating a tremendous amount of --
Q: Have you begun producing them in the --
Collins: Yes. And some of the ones that have been deployed are of the new color; some are of the old color.
Q: What's your assessment of the current humanitarian situation in Iraq? I mean, is a lot of what you're going to be dealing with what's already there, or are they in -- they're in a much better situation than Afghanistan was before --
Collins: Absolutely. And it's an interesting case, and this is certainly not part of our plan here, but I think you can imagine very different scenarios for reconstruction. If -- you know, depending on the severity of the war, if the war is not very severe, Iraq, first and foremost, is economically way above the level of where Afghanistan is. Even in its depressed state, it's far beyond where Afghanistan is. Iraq is also an oil-rich country, and that would certainly allow them to have some kind of reconstruction that would be self-financing. And, you know, the pace in a very poor country like Afghanistan is set by sort of things like donor fatigue and how much money is available in the system at any one time. But if you're an oil-rich country, you have options, and you can begin to improve the health and welfare of your population at the speed of light, as long as the infrastructure is not damaged.
Q: And what's their food and water situation now? Do they have a pretty good supply?
Collins: Right now, the food supply is good. It comes in through the Oil for Food Program. We believe most Iraqis have about a month of food in their houses. Most Iraqis are drinking bottled water, which is sort of an interesting phenomenon. There should be more than enough water. There are problems with water purification, whatever. Some of those problems go back to the Gulf War and the damage from the Gulf War. But in a period of time where Saddam is building lots of palaces, he hasn't been able to find the wherewithal to fix the health and sanitation systems inside his own country. It's just another one of his more minor crimes, but a crime nevertheless.
Q: Were there to be combat operations, would there be at the outset U.S. troops dedicated to humanitarian operations?
Collins: Yes. In our civil military operations centers, we will have a few thousand people who will be working that account full time. There will be many others who can be pressed into service. And this is a situation where the commanders know that minimizing damage to the infrastructure, minimizing civilian casualties is part of what we're supposed to be doing. We're not coming in to punish or to occupy Iraq. We're coming in to liberate the country and create the conditions where the Iraqis can create a highly functioning democracy on their own. So you know, the notion that this is certainly not anything by way of a punitive expedition is well-known among our commanders, and the plans and the safety measures have been developed accordingly.
Q: Those Iraqis being trained in Hungary -- are they actually getting any kind of constabulary type of training, or -- and if so, do you --
Collins: My guess is -- and it is speculation -- is that the Iraqis being trained in Hungary and elsewhere will most likely be parceled out to U.S. units. We won't have anything like the 2nd French Armored Division in World War II. We are going to be in a situation where Iraqis will be trained and then they will be posted with coalition forces to help the coalition forces do their job. I --
Q: You don't see them being -- transitioning beyond that, you know, to actually doing on-the-ground sort of police --
Collins: Oh, they will be -- absolutely they will be on the ground. I don't know where that will come from. And when we get to the point of giving this august group the reconstruction briefing, the business of what to do about the Iraqi army and the police will be a major part of that briefing for you guys.
Staff: Sir, why don't we take two more today and then close it up?
Q: Can you please tell me who are the international organizations that are you talking with? And secondly, you said that they are supposed to supplant the U.S. government and USAID at a latter stage. Are you still --
Collins: I didn't say that, but go ahead.
Q: Well, your words -- they're going to come in and do most of the work at the following stages.
Q: Are you still going to provide the majority of the funding for them?
Collins: In terms of funding for international organizations, our State folks are generally -- and this is a State Department question, so I'll give you a interested layman's answer -- and that is that, you know, in terms of international appeals for X, Y and Z from international organizations, we generally pay somewhere between a fourth and a third. That's where we like to target our assistance. And sometimes it's between a fifth and a third. And those are sort of complex issues and formulas that are worked out with our State folks.
We certainly don't intend on footing the bill. The U.N. agencies that are involved make international appeals, and generally speaking, those appeals are widely supported, much better than many folks know.
Which international organizations are we working with? I would prefer not to give you a list but to say that many U.N. agencies and many other international organizations are in communications with us. And the sharing of information and plans has already gone by, very much on a confidential level, as you might suspect.
Q: One of the other criticisms that's coming out of the humanitarian aid community is that this is -- this war is going to be conducted by primarily U.S. military, and therefore the relief effort should also be U.S. military; it shouldn't be shunted off on cash-strapped humanitarian aid groups. I'm wondering if you can address that, where you think the Defense Department's responsibility is in handling that problem.
Collins: Most of the NGOs are very keen on the U.S. military not getting too deeply involved in direct humanitarian assistance. Just the opposite, I think, of what you were trying to say. They are not eager for us to do that. They -- also, when they interact with the U.S. government, generally want to interact with the civilian faces that are over at State and AID, who, after all, are the experts in this business. This is one area where the Department of Defense tends to be in support of other governmental organizations. And --
Q: Well, there's this sense that it's going -- you know, Iraq is going to be administered by a uniformed officer, and therefore the military's in charge and is calling the shots. And so they're saying that this is a little different situation --
Collins: There will -- there will be, beyond a shadow of a doubt, a civilian in charge of the day-to-day aspects of reconstruction.
Q: General Garner?
Collins: It will be somebody who will be associated with or perhaps even above Jay Garner. And Jay, by the way, tells everybody, to include the sergeants that answer the phone, to call him Jay. He doesn't want to be referred to as General Garner, because he sees himself in a civilian organizational capacity.
Q: When will that person be appointed?
Collins: Way above my pay grade. But it will be done. And that will be the person who will not only be the central interface with the international organizations and the NGOs, but that will also be the person who will be the central interface between the coalition and the free Iraqis.
Q: And how is that person's relationship to be to whoever's militarily in charge of administering Iraq?
Collins: (Pause.) Could you say that again?
Q: How -- what is the relationship between that civilian and -- from what I understand, there will be a four-star general that would be in charge of maintaining order and administering Iraq until it can be handed back over --
Collins: Ah, yeah. My guess is in the very earliest days after the combat that the military forces will remain as the senior American in country. But what comes after that and how long it takes to transition from that initial stage and beyond is not there.
If anybody is interested in this particular topic, there is on the DefenseLink an excellent interview with my boss, Douglas J. Feith, on the subject of reconstruction and Jay Garner and whatever. And I recommend it for your reading pleasure.
Q: Thank you.
Staff: Dr. Collins, thank you very much for coming down and talking to us about this important subject. And thank you all for coming today.