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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

U.S. To Step Up Iraq Reconstruction Alongside Troop Surge

The U.S. government will boost its Iraq reconstruction efforts in Baghdad and Anbar Province alongside President Bush's intended troop surge in Iraq, says a senior adviser to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and coordinator for Iraq.

President Bush says he will deploy more than 20,000 troops to deal with the violence gripping Iraq.

The State Department, meanwhile, will also immediately begin "deploying greater resources alongside our military in Baghdad and Anbar" in Iraq, says Ambassador David Satterfield.

"The centerpiece of this effort will be our expansion of our Provincial Reconstruction Teams," Satterfield says. "We will double our PRTs from 10 to 20, adding more than 300 new personnel. We will expand our PRTs in three phases with the first phase occurring over the next three months to complement our enhanced military efforts. In that time, we plan to co-locate nine new PRTs – six in Baghdad and three in Anbar – with Brigade Combat Teams engaged in security operations."

The PRTs Iraq will also include US Agency for International Development advisers, as well as civil affairs officers and bilingual advisors from the Department of Defense, Satterfield says.

PRTs will support local moderate Iraqi leaders through targeted assistance (e.g. microloans, vocational education and grants) to foster new businesses, create jobs and develop provincial capacity to govern in an effective and sustainable way, Satterfield says. PRTs will continue to play a leading role in coordinating several U.S. programs funded by the Congress, including Iraqi Provincial Reconstruction Development Councils (PRDC) and USAID’s local governance, community stabilization, and community action programs, he says.

"We intend to complete all three phases of our PRT expansion by the end of the calendar year," Satterfield adds, noting however that completion will be dependent both on the timing of, and level of funding appropriated in, the fiscal year 2007 supplemental appropriation measure to fund the Iraq war, as well as "circumstances on the ground in Iraq."

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