Peacekeeping: March 18, 2005

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One of the more effective peacekeeping tools in Iraq is money, along with soldiers with technical skills to make lives better for Iraqis. There were never enough Civil Affairs troops to go around, and NGOs, for political or safety reasons, have stayed away in droves. So division commanders put out the call to officers and NCOs with knowledge of construction, sewage systems, agriculture and so on. The selected troops could travel everywhere, because they were armed and ready to rumble, and take care of Iraqi needs. Sewer, electrical and water systems were repaired, and thousands of Iraqis put on the payroll to do most of the work. Some unique problems were encountered. While combat divisions can hire civilians for all sorts of work, they have to follow a growing list of regulations to do so. Most of these regs are based on requirements for operations within the United States. Thus, for example, civilian employees must have liability insurance policies, to deal with lawsuits and accidents. Easy enough to get this coverage in the United States, but impossible in Iraq. One can get  waivers for these regulations, but that takes time, and meanwhile, you cannot hire Iraqis. Some division commanders have gone ahead, put their careers at risk and hired Iraqis right away, hoping that the waivers would catch up and make it all better. But most commanders were counseled by their military lawyers to do the prudent thing, and do nothing until the bureaucrats said it was all right. The U.S. Army is trying to reorganize its regulations to make it easier for commanders to do the civil affairs work without worrying about lawsuits or scary headlines (American General Employs Uninsured Iraqis for Dangerous Construction Work).

 


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