The Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law and the William P. Clements Jr. Center for History, Strategy & Statecraft jointly invite you to, "Iraq's Biggest Lesson: What We Must Learn from Our Ten Year Rebuilding Program in Mesopotamia" with Stuart Bowen, former Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).
In 2003, the United States entered Iraq expecting a short stay and a modest rebuilding program. Those plans evaporated quickly. Efforts soon turned from a focus on liberate and leave to a new-found strategy of occupy and rebuild. This enormous shift fundamentally altered the arc of our energies and investment, foisting forward a continuous train of challenges that the American "civ-mil" bureaucracy was not well suited or prepared to handle. While the United States overcame many of these challenges during the succeeding ten years, the cost in blood and treasure was much higher than anyone anticipated.
The unexpected duration, extraordinary expense, and insufficient outcomes of the Iraq program stem from a variety of causes, structural, strategic, and situational. But one challenge stands out: the United States was and still is not well positioned to execute successful stabilization and reconstruction operations. This talk will explore the causes of this extant national security vulnerability, detail its effects and threats, and propose a solution.
Stuart W. Bowen, Jr. served as the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), from January 2004 to October 2013. His mission focused on the audit and investigation of over $60 billion in taxpayer funds appropriated for the Iraq reconstruction effort. Supervising a staff of up to 150 personnel, Mr. Bowen managed the production of 390 audits and inspections, producing financial benefits in excess of $1.6 billion; his investigations yielded over 90 convictions, with recoveries in excess of $200 million.
Mr. Bowen oversaw the production of 37 quarterly reports to the Congress, travelled to Iraq 35 times, and testified before the Congress on 35 occasions. He managed the development of nine lessons learned reports, including two books: Learning from Iraq and Hard Lessons.
His work earned a number of awards, including: The David Walker Excellence in Government Award for Performance and Accountability from the National Intergovernmental Audit Forum; the Gaston Gianni Special Award for Outstanding Inspector General's Office; and the St. Thomas More Award for Distinguished Public Service from The St. Mary's University School of Law/San Antonio.
Previously, he served in The White House as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Staff Secretary; as Special Assistant to the President and Associate Counsel; as a partner at a large Washington, D.C., law firm; as Deputy Counsel to the Governor of Texas; as an Assistant Attorney General of Texas; as a Briefing Attorney for the Texas Supreme Court; and as an Air Force Intelligence Officer.
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