Jay Garner is a retired US Army general
. He was appointed in 2003 by President George W. Bush
to lead in the reconstruction of Iraq
after the US Invasion of 2003
Garner was born in Arcadia, Florida. He joined the US Marines, then went to Florida State University where he got a history degree in 1962, then was Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant that same year. He also holds a Master's Degree in "public administration" from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania.
Garner has credentials. He did two tours in the Vietnam War, led two air defense units in Germany, and was Deputy Commander at Fort Bliss, Texas. He helped to develop the Patriot Missile defense system, and commanded missile batteries during the Persian Gulf War. After that war, he was put in charge of securing Kurdish areas of Iraq.
Following all of that, he was named Commander of the U.S. Army Space and Strategic Defense Command. With his expertise at missiles, he worked primarily on the Strategic Defense Initiative, also known as the "Star Wars project", a missile shield program started by former President Ronald Reagan. His Army career ended as Assistant Vice Chief of Staff, when he retired in 1997 at the rank of Lieutenant General.
After leaving the Army, his skills were in demand. He became president of a leading private defense contracting company SY Coleman, which built missile communications and targeting systems used in both Patriot and Arrow Missile systems. He also worked closely with the IDF, as his missiles were deployed in Israel. After the Gulf War, he reported to Congress that the Patriot Missile Defense program was a success, and many accused him of lying due to the fact that the system destroyed only 1 out of the 88 Scud Missiles launched.
In 2003, the Pentagon announced that they selected Jay Garner to oversee the postwar phase of Iraq, heading the new Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. Garner was hand-picked by his old friend, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, though it was also reported that George W. Bush selected him. They cited his role in the North part of Iraq, working with the Kurds, as his experience for the situation. Many saw this as a conflict of interest; the man who makes missiles used to bomb Iraq gets to assume the position as the head of "rebuilding." His ties to his arms-trading company, which put him on unpaid leave in early 2003, made him become heavily criticized. Simply put, he profits from the sale of weapons which are vital to the US military's advantage in Iraq, yet also has been awarded the humanitarian and administrative role to ostensibly help the Iraqis. It was about as poor of a choice as someone who owned an Oil company. The UN and some aid agencies raised concerns about him. I wonder what the Iraqis thought of him.
Postwar Iraq was a mess from the start. The US-led coalition was blamed for allowing so much general lawlessness, looting, and crime, and for failing to get the electricity, water, phones, roads, and bridges repaired (they suffered many, many setbacks, including sabotage, and bureaucratic incompetance). Garner, as the head of the administration over there, took a lot of criticism for it, as the whole thing turned into a comedy of errors. Soon after he arrived, anti-American protests began. On April 15, 2003 the largest Shia opposition group boycotted Garner's first meeting with members of Iraqi society. To make matters worse, 20,000 Iraqis protested Garner’s military government in Nasariya, and 10 Iraqis were reported killed in a clash between Iraqi protesters and US Marines.
According to StopJayGarner.com (yes, there was enough criticism of him to spark a website), Congress never confirmed him, which made some uneasy considering he was in charge of Billions of dollars of reconstruction funds. He told the New York Times that “If President Bush had been president we would have won” the Vietnam war (April 15, 2003). His home in Florida is worth $1 Million US. He was also staunchly pro-Israel, questioning the Palestinian commitment to peace, which made many Arab and Muslim groups claim that he was the wrong man for the job.
In an interview with the BBC in April 2003, he remarked:
"...they [the Coalition] minimised damage to the infrastructure - they made sure the oil fields weren't damaged ... they tried to protect the water lines. They did as little collateral damage as they possibly could. It was probably the most merciful war or campaign ever conducted. So sure, we always follow the rules.
Unfortunately, many don't agree with him, particularly the saving of the oil lines but not the museums or hospitals or schools, and the 8,000+ civillian deaths (at minimum count) in Iraq during the Invasion.
After only a few months on the job, Jay Garner was removed from his position in May 2003, and replaced with L. Paul Bremer. It's rumored that Tony Blair pushed to have him replaced. Garner himself said in an interview with The Guardian on March 2004 that he was replaced because he wanted early elections and rejected the US administration's efforts to impose a privatized Iraqi economy, a scheme created as early as 2001.
Describing his dismissal after he called for elections , he said: "The night I got to Baghdad, the defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld called me and told me he was appointing Paul Bremer as the presidential envoy ... The announcement ... was somewhat abrupt." Despite being a protegé of Donald Rumsfeld, it's rumored the White House considered him weak.
http://www.stopjaygarner.com (No longer exists)