Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance

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The Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) was the initial U.S. Department of Defense organization set up as an interim military government for Iraq. It was created in January 2003, and retired lieutenant general Jay Garner was put in charge.

The organization was not closely coordinated with other efforts at the U.S. Department of State and the United States Central Command. Its basic model for Iraq was of "ministerial advisory teams", in which the senior Ba'ath Party leadership would be replaced by a three-man team:ORHA assumes that Ministries will continue to function under this new management scheme [1]

  • U.S. Senior Adviser, often military since military personnel were most available to ORHA
  • Iraqi Expatriate with relevant experience in functional area
  • “Last Iraqi Standing” – the most senior Ministry official not tainted by direct association with the regime

ORHA assumed this could keep the ministries running. The assumptions, however, were evaluated in a February 2003 exercise at the National Defense University. The Department of State sent ORHA its "Future of Iraq" study that it had been developing since October 2001, under Thomas Warrick, assisted by Meghan O'Sullivan. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told Warrick and O'Sullivan to leave, saying that the work had to be done by those committed to it. Powell assumed "committed" meant supportive of Defense-approved expatriates such as Ahmed Chalabi. He was told that either the President or Vice-President agreed to let O'Sullivan, but not Warrick, participate. Cheney objected to State's assumption that the Iraqi government would not necessarily be a democracy.[2]

Garner began with no staff, and not just no integration with United States Central Command or the Joint Staff, but no secure communications. He was not given information about the earlier planning, either the State Department "Future of Iraq" project[3] or the Defense Department Joint Task Force 4. The Agency for International Development continued independent work, although one of its contractors said it did not have the resources to do the job. [4]


  1. Nora Bensahel (October 4, 2006), After Saddam: Prewar Planning for Postwar Iraq, Security Studies Program Seminar, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  2. Bob Woodward (2004), Plan of Attack, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 07432554, pp. 283-284
  3. Farrah Hassen, ed., New State Department Releases on the "Future of Iraq" Project, George Washington University National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 198
  4. EPIC Ground Truth Project, Chapter 3 The Department of Defense Takes Charges, Special Inspector General For Iraq Reconstruction’s “Hard Lessons"