The United States has been urged to revise its force
structure in Iraq and employ private contractors to secure vital facilities
in the country.
A report by an independent commission sent to Iraq by the Defense
Department has urged an effort to improve security in the Arab League state.
The report by the five-member panel said security is the perogative for
progress in the reconstruction and stabilization of Iraq.
The recommendations for improving security in Iraq include a
reassessment of the force composition and troop levels to immediately
improve "street-level visibility of coalition troops" and contracting more
"private security forces" at low-risk locations.
The United States has 148,000 troops in Iraq and allied forces have
another 13,000 soldiers. The Pentagon-sponsored team spent 11 days in Iraq.
"If Iraqis do not see progress on delivering security, basic services,
political involvement and economic activity, the security situation will
likely worsen and U.S. efforts and credibility will falter," the report
Officials said the Pentagon plans to train a private Iraqi security
force over the next year. The force will guard infrastructure sites,
including bridges, buildings and oil pipelines.
The report, entitled "Iraq's Post-Conflict Reconstruction," was drafted
members from the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International
Studies. A key member of the commission, Frederick Barton, a senior CSIS
adviser and a former United Nations deputy high commissioner for refugees,
said the next 12 months in Iraqi reconstruction "will be decisive" and team
members are "very worried about [security in] the next three months."
"Security is the precondition for all progress," Barton told a news
conference on Friday.
Defense Undersecretary for Policy Douglas Feith termed the report highly
professional. He said the recommendations would be considered, but not
"Not everyone in the Pentagon or in the U.S. government agrees with
every factual analysis or judgment or recommendation in the report," Feith
said. "But it is a serious piece of work with lots of good observations and
good ideas in it."