Iraqi Police Program a Waste, Audit Says
August 1, 2012
US auditors have concluded that more than $200 million was wasted on a program to train Iraqi police that Baghdad says is neither needed nor wanted. Now, facing what the report called Baghdad's "disinterest" in the project, the embassy is gutting what was supposed to be the centerpiece of ongoing US training efforts in Iraq.
BAGHDAD July 30, 2012) -- US auditors have concluded that more than $200 million was wasted on a program to train Iraqi police that Baghdad says is neither needed nor wanted.
The Police Development Program, which was drawn up to be the single largest State Department program in the world -- was envisioned as a five-year, multibillion-dollar push to train security forces after the US military left in December. But Iraqi political leaders, anxious to keep their distance from the Americans, were unenthusiastic.
A report by the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, released Monday, found that the American Embassy in Baghdad never got a written commitment from Iraq to participate. Now, facing what the report called Baghdad's "disinterest" in the project, the embassy is gutting what was supposed to be the centerpiece of ongoing U.S. training efforts in Iraq.
According to the report, the embassy plans to turn over the $108 million Baghdad Police College Annex to Iraqis by the end of the year and will stop training at a $98 million site at the U.S. consulate in the southern city of Basra. Additionally, the number of advisers has been cut by nearly 90 percent - from 350 to 36.
"A major lesson learned from Iraq is that host country buy-in to proposed programs is essential to the long-term success of relief and reconstruction activities. The PDP experience powerfully underscores that point," auditors wrote in a 41-page summary of their inspection.
Auditors noted that it "has clearly been difficult" for American diplomats to secure a solid commitment from Iraq's government to participate in the training program. Still, the report concluded, "the decision to embark on a major program absent Iraqi buy-in has been costly" and resulted in "a de facto waste."
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