The Corps of Engineers has slightly more than 200 of its people overseas planning to do assessments of initial rebuilding needs in Iraq, says Lt. Gen. Robert Flowers, the Chief of Engineers.

In a brief interview with ENR on March 26, Flowers said, "What we're working at now primarily is planning and preparation for doing assessments." Eventually, he notes, the U.S. Agency for International Development will take charge of reconstruction in Iraq. During the initial phase of expected U.S.-coalition military control, "There will be a lot of work that needs to be done to restore temporary services, provide quality of life for refugees...initially while you're still in a situation where the military is kind of overseeing what's going on," Flowers says. "And we'll be working that. We'll be doing the initial assessments."

(Photo courtesy of Corps of Engineers)

Flowers says the Corps has "a little over 200" personnel in Afghanistan, Kuwait and Qatar who will carry out the assessments. It also has additional people "pre-positioned" in the U.S. for work in Iraq if they're needed.

"We've got teams prepositioned that will go in there and do the assessments to try and determine an overall plan. And we'll work a transition with U.S. AID, because they will have the lead for the permanent rebuilding of infrastructure," Flowers explains.

AID is expected to award a contract shortly to a firm for Iraqi reconstruction. "What they're looking at is the permanent reconstruction and rebuilding," Flowers says. "We may have a role in assisting. If they need us, we'll help them."

Flowers also says the Corps will contract out some of the initial work. "We will make full use of the private sector as we go forward," he says. The Corps' assessment teams "have with them the authority, if we need it, to contract to bring on the expertise that we may need...." He adds that "we'll have a small footprint forward that will leverage industry to accomplish the work."

The Corps recently contracted with Halliburton Co.'s Kellogg Brown & Root unit to carry out a plan to extinguish oil field fires and rebuild petroleum infrastructure in Iraq. A Corps spokesman says it is a cost-plus-fee contract. The fee will be "based on performance," he says, and range from 2 to 5%.

As for other types of tasks that may lie ahead, "You're going to have a need if there's going to be a force in Iraq for some time, the U.S. coalition force," Flowers says. "You're going to need facilities for that force. You're going to need security. You've got to restore basic services as quickly as you can. You've got to get the oil infrastructure reconstituted. Some of that we will accomplish while the military is still in charge."

He adds, "As it transitions to a civilian administrator and eventually to an Iraqi leadership then it will transition to U.S. AID to be the lead on that portion. We're working with them on how we do that handoff. I think we're ready to go. We've been working pretty hard at doing some contingency planning, worst-case, best-case...things in-between."