President George W. Bush says the United States is changing its approach to helping the Iraqi government establish its authority and provide security and essential services for the Iraqi people. In addition to sending some twenty thousand more troops to Iraq, the U.S. will also focus on efforts to develop Iraqi capacity at the local and provincial level, helping to accelerate the transition to Iraqi self-reliance:
"We will give our commanders and civilians greater flexibility to spend funds for economic assistance. We will double the number of provincial reconstruction teams. These teams bring together military and civilian experts to help local Iraqi communities pursue reconciliation, strengthen the moderates, and speed the transition to Iraqi self-reliance."
Ten provincial reconstruction teams, or P-R-Ts, are currently operating in Iraq. The teams are tasked with fostering political and economic development and building Iraqi governance capacity at the local and provincial level. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that the number of P-R-Ts will increase to "at least eighteen," with the number in Baghdad expanding from one to seven and the number in Anbar province increasing from one to four.
"The logic behind P-R-Ts is simple," said Secretary of State Rice. "Success in Iraq relies on more than military efforts; it requires robust political and economic progress. We must ... get our civilians out of the embassy, out of the Green Zone, and into the field across Iraq, to support promising local leaders and promising local structures," she said.
Secretary of State Rice has appointed Timothy Carney to the new position of Coordinator for Economic Transition in Iraq. Mr. Carney will be responsible for ensuring that U.S. economic support for Iraq "is closely integrated with our political assistance and our security strategy," said Secretary of State Rice.
The United States is assisting Iraq in other ways, including a program that provides Iraqis with small loans to create small businesses. The Iraqi government, for its part, will spend ten billion dollars of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will also create new jobs.
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.