WASHINGTON – A U.S. Army program in which soldiers pay cash to Iraqis to help with expenses, large and small, has spent $2.8 billion in five years, The Washington Post reported Monday.
The Post reviewed records of the Commander's Emergency Response Program, which was intended for short-term humanitarian relief and reconstruction. The field manual laying out the guidelines for the program is called "Money as a Weapon System," pointing up the effectiveness of cold hard cash in winning over the hearts and minds of Iraqi civilians.
The largest sum of CERP money, $596.8 million, was spent on water and sanitation projects, the Post reported. Three other categories each received more than $300 million: electricity, protective measures (such as fencing and guards), and transportation and roads.
But the Army also spent lesser sums on smaller acts of largesse, including $48,000 for children's shoes; $50,000 for 625 sheep; $100,000 for dolls; and $500,000 for action figures designed to look like Iraqi security forces, the Post reported.