BAGHDAD, Iraq – Retired U.S. Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, who is overseeing Iraq's reconstruction after the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime, arrived Monday in the Iraqi capital.
"What better day in your life can you have than to be able to help somebody else, to help other people, and that is what we intend to do," Garner said after arriving at Baghdad airport from Kuwait.
Garner said his priority was to restore basic services such as water and electricity "as soon as we can," and acknowledged that the job would take intense work.
"Everything is the challenge," he said.
Garner said he aimed to get the job done and leave as soon as possible, but declined to give a timeframe.
"We will be here as long as it takes. We will leave fairly rapidly," he said.
In Baghdad, Garner plans to visit a primary water treatment plant, a main power plant and the Yarmuk hospital.
Garner heads the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, which was set up by the Bush administration to help rebuild Iraq and prepare for an eventual interim government made up of Iraqis.
Garner was accompanied by his British deputy Tim Cross. His initial team of about 19 civilian administrators is to grow to about 450 over the next week.
Iraqis have criticized U.S.-led forces for failing to swiftly restore order in the city and elsewhere in Iraq, where looting and disorder broke out in the wake of Saddam's fall. Many cities also suffer from power and water shortages.
Garner will report to U.S. General Tommy Franks, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq.
Garner last week went to the southern city of Nasiriyah for a meeting with opposition figures, but the Baghdad visit was his first to the capital since U.S. forces took the city.