Monday, October 10, 2005

Iraq rebuilding slows as U.S. money for projects dries up

Slow news day...

On paper, the Iraqi Army barracks was a gleaming example of the future Iraq. The plans called for a two-story, air-conditioned barracks housing 850 soldiers, a movie theater, classrooms, basketball courts, a shooting range, even an officer's club.

But when the $10 million project in southern Iraq is finished this month, it will fall far short of those ambitious plans. The theater, classrooms, officer's club, basketball courts and shooting range have all been scrapped. The barracks will be one story instead of two.

The reason for scaling back the barracks? The U.S. government is running out of money. The higher than expected cost of protecting workers against insurgent attacks - about 25 cents of every reconstruction dollar now pays for security - has sent the cost of projects skyward.

The result: Some projects have been eliminated and others cut back.

"American money has dried up," says Brent Rose, chief of program/project management for the Army Corps of Engineers in southern Iraq.

And tracking the billions of dollars that flooded into a war zone in the wake of the U.S.-led invasion has proved difficult, too. Nearly $100 million in reconstruction money is unaccounted for.

Posted by crimnos @ 2:10 PM