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US General Defends Reconstruction Progress in Iraq


The head of U.S. reconstruction efforts in Iraq says the multibillion-dollar effort is moving forward, despite challenges posed by security problems and a lack of construction supplies and qualified work crews.

Major-General William McCoy, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Gulf region, says nearly 80 percent of 3,700 war reconstruction projects have been completed, and work is continuing on the remainder.

"This massive undertaking is part of a wider strategy for success in Iraq, McCoy said in a statement Tuesday. "[A strategy] that involves the establishment of a democratic government, the development of professional Iraqi security forces, and the restoration of basic essential services and facilities to promote ... sustained economic development."

McCoy criticized what he said were "distorted" accounts of the U.S. reconstruction effort, in particular a story in The Washington Post last week that reported the project was "littered with notable failures."

The general rejected the newspaper article's assertion that the reconstruction program in Iraq is "flailing" and plagued by corruption. As evidence of progress, he cited new water treatment plants, 800 new or rebuilt schools, thousands of miles of roads, and many other projects.

"The United States has rightfully invested $20 billion in Iraq's reconstruction," the engineering specialist said in his statement.