Iraq Stabilization Group

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The New York Times on October 5, 2003, announced that "The White House has ordered a major reorganization of American efforts to quell violence in Iraq and Afghanistan and to speed the reconstruction of both countries, according to senior administration officials.

"The new effort includes the creation of an 'Iraq Stabilization Group', which will be run by the National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice. The decision to create the new group, five months after Mr. Bush declared the end of active combat in Iraq, appears part of an effort to assert more direct White House control over how Washington coordinates its efforts to fight terrorism, develop political structures and encourage economic development in the two countries....

"The creation of the stabilization group appears to give more direct control to Ms. Rice, one of the president's closest confidantes, who signed the memorandum announcing it. For the first two and a half years of Mr. Bush's presidency, Ms. Rice often seemed hesitant to take a more active role, eschewing the kind of hands-on approach for which Henry A. Kissinger and other national security advisers were known, and viewing her job chiefly as providing quiet advice to Mr. Bush.

"Now, four of her deputies will run coordinating committees on counterterrorism efforts, economic development, political affairs in Iraq and the creation of clearer messages to the media here and in Baghdad.

"Each working group will include under secretaries from the State, Defense and Treasury Departments, and senior representatives from the Central Intelligence Agency....

"In the interview, Ms. Rice described the new organization as one intended to support the Pentagon, not supplant it."

Rice stated that the National Security Council (NSC) "'staff is first and foremost the president's staff,... but it is of course the staff to the National Security Council.' That group will in effect be taking more direct responsibility."

According to Rice, the NSC "is made up of top advisers to the president who meet three times a week in the Situation Room. They have often seemed unable to coordinate efforts on the main issues relating to the occupation of Iraq. 'The Pentagon remains the lead agency, and the structure has been set up explicitly to provide assistance to the Defense Department'" and the Coalition Provisional Authority.

"Other officials said the effect of Ms. Rice's memorandum would be to move day-to-day issues of administering Iraq to the White House.

"The counterterrorism group, for example, will be run by Frances F. Townsend, Ms. Rice's deputy for that field. Economic issues from oil to electricity to the distribution of a new currency will be coordinated by Gary Edson. He has been the liaison between the National Security Council and the National Economic Council.

"Robert D. Blackwill, a former ambassador to India, will run the group overseeing the creation of political institutions in Iraq, as well as directing stabilization for Afghanistan.

"Anna Perez, Ms. Rice's communications director, will focus on a coordinated media message, a response to concerns about the daily reports of attacks on American troops and lawlessness in the streets."

External links

  • Steve Holland, Bush Orders Iraq Effort Reorganized, Reuters, October 6, 2003: "The Pentagon remains the lead agency. This is a group to help assist the Department of Defense's and the coalition's efforts,' said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.... The new group was formed in anticipation of congressional approval of as much as $20 billion for Iraqi reconstruction as part of an $87 billion U.S. spending request for Iraq."
  • Terence Hunt, White House Creates Rebuilding Task Force, AP, October 6, 2003: "'Almost two years after the fall of the Taliban and nearly six months after the fall of Baghdad, the White House is finally organizing itself to deal with the realities of postwar Afghanistan and Iraq,' said Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. 'It's about time President Bush tried to get his bureaucracy in order but rearranging flow charts is no substitute for leadership.'"