MORE ON CERP FUNDS IN IRAQ, from a celebrated expert:
I am a Marine Reserve Lt.Col. and was the Provincial Military Governor for Wasit Province in Iraq until early September. In fact, you blogged a story about me. (Link)
We had funds that were seized from Saddam and used them for all manner of reconstruction projects. Additionally we had US funds allocated for our discretionary use (well, there were some restrictions, I couldn't use it to benefit US personnel). It was essential to our success when I was there. We didn't lose one Marine to enemy fire after the war combat was over. As funding and the discretion to spend money where and when it is needed become bogged down in government red tape, it will create problems for the guys who are still there. No doubt. Politicians don't appreciate the needs of guys on the front lines and what we need to do to get things done. It't the small things that build in importance with immediate impact. We also got help for things we needed from folks back home. I asked a group called Spirit of America for red, white and blue soccer jerseys for local kids and adults to help build goodwill since soccer is the game there. They wrote up the story at: Link
They helped another Marine with dental supplies and they're helping Army guys there now. The main thing is that there is help from the private sector and people in the U.S. can help. You guys should know about that because it's even more important now that the seized funds we used are drying up.
I'm back home at work now but let me know if I can tell you more about this or put you in touch with the guys who helped us.
LtCol David Couvillon, USMCR
I don't think that bloggers and blog-readers can replace this money, but maybe there's something we can do to help. In the meantime, I think that Washington needs to look hard at giving local commanders the kind of freedom they enjoyed under the CERP program.