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Pentagon admits Iraq mistakes

From Jamie McIntyre, CNN Senior Pentagon Correspondent

Wolfowitz (center) has just returned to Washington after a four-day tour of Iraq.
Wolfowitz (center) has just returned to Washington after a four-day tour of Iraq.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) Back from a four-day whirlwind tour of Iraq, the Pentagon's number two civilian, Paul Wolfowitz, has admitted that many of the Bush administration's pre-war assumptions were wrong.

While he insists that many things are now going right and the rebuilding of Iraq is progressing much better than many people think, he also concedes many beliefs the Pentagon had ahead of the war were mistaken.

"There's been a lot of talk that there was no plan. There was a plan" he said Wednesday in a briefing to reporters after returning from his inspection tour.

But, he added, "as any military officer can tell you, no plan survives first contact with reality,"

Among the things Wolfowitz says the U.S. guessed incorrectly was the assumption that some Iraqi Army units would switch sides; that the Iraqi Police would help maintain security; and that regime remnants would not resort to guerrilla tactics.

"I believe this will go down as the first guerrilla tactic in history in which contract killings, killings for hire, going out and soliciting young men for $500 to take a shot at an American, was the principal tactic employed," he said.

The miscalculations have resulted in a security problem that has forced the army to devise a complicated rotation plan to maintain roughly 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq until at least late next year.

Soldiers' burden

The army's top officer says this is putting a lot of stress on soldiers and their families:

Speaking to reporters this week, Acting Army Chief Of Staff Gen. John Keane said it was entirely possible for the military to stretch its forces beyond the limits.

But, he says, "we don't want to do that -- so we're working very hard to avoid that."

The U.S. says it also had no idea how badly Iraq's infrastructure had been neglected over the past three decades.

The cost of putting the country back on its feet will be billions.

According to the U.S. administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, it will take up to $13 billion "to rebuild and meet foreseeable power demands."

On top of that, he says, United Nations estimates indicate "we will have to spend $16 billion over the next 4 years just on water and getting decent water to the population"

Bremer also agues, however, that the glass is more than half full.

He says his latest plan will restore electricity, water and healthcare to pre-war levels in Iraq within two months.


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