Man who would be 'king' of Iraq
Oliver Morgan on Jay Garner, the hawkish head of the Pentagon agency that will
be handling lucrative reconstruction deals
Sunday March 30, 2003
President, viceroy, governor, sheriff. It is difficult to know what to call Jay
Garner, the retired US general who will run Iraq if and when Saddam Hussein
The 'call me Jay' 64-year-old would prefer 'co-ordinator of civilian
administration'. That's the bland description of his job heading the Office for
Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, the Pentagon agency preparing to
govern Iraq's 23 million people in the aftermath of war, provide humanitarian
support and administer the lucrative business of reconstruction.
Garners credentials are intriguing. He has a fine record in United
Nations-backed humanitarian operations, playing a senior role in protecting the
Kurds of northern Iraq from Saddam after the 1991 Gulf war in Operation Provide
Comfort. Crucially he is now out of khaki, a vital counterpoint to General
Tommy Franks, who is likely to act as a US military governor. On the other
hand, he is closely linked with the group of hawks centred on US Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (who gave him his latest job), his deputy Paul
Wolfowitz and Vice President Dick Cheney, who are as keen to bypass the UN in
the aftermath of war as they were before it.
He appears to share their strong pro-Israeli views. He has been involved in
formulating their more controversial defence policies, including the US
national missile defence system that has done much to undermine the 1972
anti-ballistic missile treaty. The company he now works for is a missile
specialist and makes money from systems deployed in Israel and by coalition
forces in Iraq.
With this background, the aid agencies are equivocal about his role. Phil
Bloomer of Oxfam says: 'Iraqis should run Iraq and in the transition the UN
should be in charge, not the US. A worst-case scenario would be to put in
charge of Iraqi reconstruction someone from the US or UK who was linked to the
arms or oil industries.'
Garner's view of the effectiveness of the US military in a humanitarian role
was made clear during Provide Comfort. The army, he said, was the merciful
instrument in shaping future humanitarian operations. But Provide Comfort was
carried out under very different circumstances. The war it followed was
mandated by UN Security Council resolutions, as was the humanitarian mission.
Today, relations between Garner and the UN appear strained, as was clear at a
frosty meeting earlier this month, when he explained his role before departing
for Kuwait. 'There was no co-ordination or consultation,' said one UN official.
'That would be inappropriate from the UN's point of view because its operations
are autonomous; we do not need to consult with the US. But also from the US
position, because it is common knowledge that they want to go it alone without
Despite movement towards a UN role in reconstruction through a new resolution
extending the Oil For Food programme, officials have deep suspicions about US
intentions, particularly those of Garner's friends. 'Powell [pro-UN Secretary
of State] has already lost the battle,' said one. 'It is clear that Rumsfeld,
Cheney and the rest have the ascendancy and they think, having gone it alone in
the war, they should get the benefit of being seen as liberators. Garner is
their man. He is a true believer.'
Beyond the strong Pentagon links of an ex-military man, Garner's political
constituency is with the Republican right. His contacts with the Vice President
go back to Provide Comfort, when Cheney was defence secretary to the first
Bush, while his relationship with Rumsfeld has been sealed through recent close
co-operation on missile defence policy.
These links have provoked unease among companies outside the US, which believe
that the Americans want to carve up reconstruction contracts among themselves,
regardless of any UN role. A subsidiary of Cheney's old company, Halliburton,
has recently secured a deal to put out oil well fires. Halliburton, and
Bechtel, another company with strong Republican links, were on a US-only
shortlist for a major $900m reconstruction contract that will be overseen by
After strong lobbying from UK companies, the DTI agency Trade Partners UK
managed to get a British secondee into Garners office, and Trade Secretary
Patricia Hewitt lobbied the US government to include the British.
But contractors say ORHA is not responding to requests for contact. 'We have
worries about this,' said one. 'There is a huge row going on behind the scenes
about Halliburton and Bechtel winning deals, and we can't talk to the people on
But there are wider concerns, particularly Garner's work with Rumsfeld, his
commercial activities, and views on Israel. Rumsfeld headed the Commission to
Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States, which reported to the
US Congress in 1998. The Rumsfeld Commission singled out three countries
threatening the US with ballistic missile development - North Korea, Iran and
Iraq - thus defining the axis of evil that underpins the US's pre-emptive
Garner served on Rumsfeld II, which effectively extended missile defence into
space. He was involved in the deployment of Patriot missiles in Israel during
the 1991 Gulf War, and was commander of the US Army Space and Strategic Defense
Command from 1994 to 1996.
When Patriot's effectiveness was questioned at a 1992 congressional hearing,
Garner dismissed critics, saying 40 per cent of engagements in Israel and 70
per cent in Saudi Arabia were successful.
However, Ted Postol of the Massachussetts Institute of Technology, who gave
evidence at the hearing, said: 'We believe that these figures are too high, and
that it may be the case that zero engagements in Israel were effective. Garner
may have been involved in covering up the deficiencies of the system.'
Garner is now commercially involved in the latest version of Patriot, currently
deployed in Iraq. He is president of SY Coleman, a missile systems contractor
that gives technical advice and support on the running of the programme. Israel
is now protected by a new system called Arrow. SY Coleman is involved here too:
Garner helped oversee development work, a programme that Postol estimates was
80 per cent funded by the US.
Jack Tyler, SY's senior vice-president for business development, confirmed it
had worked both on Patriot and Arrow. However, he said, there was no
procurement, sale or royalty to the company from the systems, only advisory
Tyler dismissed suggestions that Garner was hired because of his defence
contacts, saying his role was that of a strategic planner. SY has strong
relationships with the then US government. In 1999 it won a Star Wars contract
worth up to $365m to provide the US forces with advice on space and missile
defence. The SY website lists a series of government logistics and R&D
contracts.Meanwhile, SY was bought by another company, L-3 Communications, last
year. L-3 is the ninth-largest contributor to US political parties in the
defence electronics sector. Last week it was awarded a $1.5bn contract to
provide logistics services to US special operations forces.
Garner's links with Israel are not limited to missile programmes. In October
2000 he put his name to a statement that said that 'Israel had exercised
remarkable restraint in the face of lethal violence orchestrated by the
leadership of a Palestinian Authority'.
The organisation behind the statement was the Jewish Institute for National
Security Affairs, which includes Cheney and Richard Perle, another arch-hawk,
among its advisers past and present.
Only last week Perle resigned from the chairmanship of a key Pentagon committee
advising Rumsfeld, after it emerged that he had struck a deal with bankrupt
telecoms company Global Crossing under which he stood to receive up to
$725,000. The deal is being reviewed by a government group that includes
Defense Department officials.
There is no suggestion that Garner might feel similarly compromised by past
association and some find the anti-Garner arguments overstated.
Eric Schwartz of Washington's respected Council on Foreign Relations think-tank
says: 'I am not sure this is a US go-it-alone guy. He understands the critical
importance of it not being the military doing the nation-building.' Schwartz
believes that, after an interim period, the UN will take control of critical
issues in Iraq's future, such as drawing up a constitution and overseeing
It will be for Washington to decide whether the Sheriff of Baghdad wears a US
or a UN star. His record suggests he would be equally happy in either. Its how
he uses the badge that counts.
US arms trader to run Iraq
Exclusive: Ex-general who will lead reconstruction heads firm behind Patriot
Oliver Morgan, industrial editor
Sunday March 30, 2003
Jay Garner, the retired US general who will oversee humanitarian relief and
reconstruction in postwar Iraq, is president of an arms company that provides
crucial technical support to missile systems vital to the US invasion of the
Garner's business background is causing serious concerns at the United Nations
and among aid agencies, who are already opposed to US administration of Iraq if
it comes outside UN authority, and who say appointment of an American linked to
the arms trade is the 'worst case scenario' for running the country after the
Garner is president of Virginia-based SY Coleman, a subsidiary of defence
electronics group L-3 Communications, which provides technical services and
advice on the Patriot missile system being used in Iraq. Patriot was made
famous in the 1991 Gulf war when it was used to protect Israeli and Saudi
targets from attack by Saddam Hussein's Scud missiles. Garner was involved in
the system's deployment in Israel.
SY Coleman has also worked on the Arrow missile defence system, deployed in
Israel, and is involved in the US national missile defence programme. Garner
joined SY Technologies, taken over last year by L-3, in 1997, after leaving the
Defence analyst David Armstrong of the Washington-based National Security News
Service says: 'It seems inappropriate for somebody to step into a humanitarian
and administrative role from a company with a role in providing equipment
which, albeit defensive, is vital to the success of the US operation.'
Phil Bloomer of Oxfam said 'The worst case scenario would be to put in charge
of the reconstruction someone from the US or UK linked to the arms or oil
According to its website, SY Coleman provides technical services such as
missile system engineering and target system design for a wide range of US
military programmes, and also makes some components. It also provides
operational services such as battle management and 'warfighter support'.
The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that it was a Patriot missile that was
involved when a British Tornado was hit last week.
Jack Tyler, an SY Coleman senior vice-president, confirmed that Garner still
held his position at the company.