Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen recommended alternative U.S. approaches in the Iraqi rebuilding process Thursday.
The event, “Learning from Iraq,” was sponsored by the Center for Security Studies in Mortara Center for International Studies.
“No one likes oversight, but oversight is necessary,” Bowen said.
He said the number of audits in Iraq and their efficiency has increased since he was appointed in 2004.
Bowen encouraged the United States to re-evaluate its approach to reconstruction and specifically recommended establishing a new committee to streamline efforts across multiple government agencies.
Bowen distributed copies of a final report that offered a comprehensive view of the United States’ spending on rebuilding in Iraq. The report detailed U.S. spending and included alternative methods that could have prevented up to $8 billion in fraud.
“We must reform our approach,” Bowen said. “Now, the army manual details offensive, defensive and stabilization [tactics].”
He said that the United States did not consult Iraqis enough early on to see if the money had been well spent.
Bowen said the government should create the U.S. Office for Contingency Operations to coordinate logistics for the U.S. military in warzones.
“We don’t get to pick where or how a fragile state might fall under our need,” he said. “But we do get to pick how we plan and prepare.”
Siena Simmons (COL ’16) said the lecture related to her classes.
“International relations, which I studied last semester, is more than defense and diplomacy,” she said. “Reconstruction is a major part of it, as the inspector general described today.”
Sophia Kleyman (COL ’16) also found the lecture relevant.
“Learning where money for Iraq’s reconstruction [went] interested me,” Kleyman said. “When he described his staff as a watchdog for the taxpayers money in Iraq, it gave me more faith in the system overall.”