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Public Statements

Hearing of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation of the House Armed Services Committee

Statement

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

HEARING OF THE\, SUBCOMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND INVESTIGATIONS OF THE HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
SUBJECT: ROLE OF THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT IN PROVINCIAL RECONSTRUCTION TEAMS
CHAIRED BY: REP. VIC SNYDER (D-AR)
WITNESSES: GINGER CRUZ, OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL FOR IRAQ RECONSTRUCTION; MICHELLE PARKER, INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, RAND CORPORATION; FREDERICK BARTON, POST-CONFLICT RECONSTRUCTION PROJECT, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES

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Mr. Cooper.

REP. JIM COOPER (D-TN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank the witnesses.

You mentioned the Dutch example. Are there other lessons we can learn from other nationalities and PRTs?

MS. CRUZ: There are. Actually DFID has a model which we have been studying as we're looking at making recommendations to the Congress. And the DFID the example of the United Kingdom actually provides some possible means that we could use --

REP. COOPER: What's DFID? I'm sorry.

MS. CRUZ: DFID, I'm sorry, is the corollary to USAID in the British government.

REP. COOPER: I'm sorry.

MS. CRUZ: And what they do is right now USAID is subordinate in our government to the Department of State, so we essentially have State and Defense that work together. In the government of the United Kingdom, they actually have three cabinet-level agencies which would be the corollaries to our Department of Defense, USAID and Department of State. And one of the things that they've done is create something called conflict pools, so when there is funding that is designed to do relief and reconstruction work, rather than that funding going to Department of Defense or Department of State, which is the beginning of a lot of coordination challenges, that money is put into one fund. And it has to be jointly decided upon by the three agencies. They've had limited success. There are challenges to it, but it is one of the models I think that could be looked at that we might want to consider.

MS. PARKER: The Danish also have the same thing in Afghanistan where if it's a small pool of money, the military can directly fund it. If it's anything over, I think, $20,000, the development person must be involved. And then the development person also has their own fund. So there's three separate funds that all are operating out of the PRT. And they found that that was quite successful.

MR. BARTON: Even Singapore has its own little contribution that is making -- (inaudible) -- in Afghanistan -- (inaudible). And they've done a particularly good job probably of feeling out what the needs of the place were before they offered a solution.

REP. COOPER: It's humbling to be bested by these little bitty countries. How about individual training, the skill set that individual foreign workers bring? Are they trained? You mentioned the NASA example -- (inaudible) -- into space. Are these foreign aid workers better trained, language or otherwise?

MR. BARTON: (Inaudible) -- I mean, there is -- (inaudible). I know the British had at least reportedly -- (inaudible) -- better job of preparing the people that are going out to the PRTs. Whether they arrive with the greater skill sets or not I'm not sure. But at least the concept of training -- I had a call this morning from NPR, and they're doing a story on the training. And the U.S. training now for State Department people is somewhere between a week and two weeks for a PRT. And much of the training is on security and personal safety. That's probably not going to be adequate for the complexity of these things.

We've found where we are hiring people -- because I've set up operations like this in about 15 different countries over about a six- year period in the 1990s. And I thought that there were three critical skills that needed to be apparent in anybody you put on the ground. One is they had to be sort of political organizers. They had to be community organizers. Second, they had to be extremely comfortable living in the place, like the Peace Corps person. And third, they had to have the edge of the military or humanitarian worker of just doing it. Lives have to be saved. We've got to take action. So those three skill sets I could almost never find in a single individual, so what you ended up doing is you'd hire two people that you would hope would cover three skill sets and that the cultures they came from wouldn't be in conflict with each other.

The opportunity is there. There are a zillion Americans who have these abilities and the desire to get on with this kind of work. Many of them -- (inaudible) -- (there ?) as missionaries or as jazz pianists or whatever it happens to be. We run into the oddest combination of Americans everywhere. So I believe we could do it here. But it's not that we're not given the guidance that we need from here.

MS. CRUZ: A couple of other things to point out is one of the problems that we have is security clearances. A lot of the times, if the people that need to work at a PRT need to have security clearances. Well, the people looking at security clearances are generally the ones from the United States that have never traveled outside of the country and they have very little ability to speak another language, which is not what you need. I know 29 out of the 810 spots right now for PRTs are bilingual-bicultural advisers who can speak Arabic and understand the Iraqi culture.

REP. COOPER: I saw that in your testimony. I also saw that we're 200 State Department people short. Someone mentioned that lack of career preferment, if you take these jobs. What about basic pay? What did you make, Ms. Parker, when you were in Afghanistan?

MS. PARKER: In my last job, I was a GS-14, Step 4. I think part of the problem is the culture. One of the things that I was told that was very shocking, a junior Foreign Service officer that I spoke to just last week at the Baghdad PRT told me that he was very interested in the Middle East. He had just started working in this area. He had Spanish and French as two languages, and he had just come on as a junior Foreign Service officer. And he was asking the State Department if he could be trained in Arabic, because he was very interested in the work that he was doing. And he was told they would not train him in Arabic, because if he was trained in three languages, he would have an unfair advantage over other individuals in the Foreign Service, and that that would cause an imbalance in the system, which I found to be an interesting point.

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