Pentagon says shock reports exaggerated

July 29, 2008 at 9:08 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 29 (UPI) -- A military official said Tuesday reports of shoddy electrical work at U.S. facilities in Iraq that has resulted in U.S. servicemen being killed are exaggerated.

"We certainly understand and appreciate Congress's concern for the well-being of service members and other U.S. personnel deployed in Iraq, but there seems to be a misperception out there that our facilities in that theater are replete with electrical hazards that have caused hundreds of fires and multiple fatalities," Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said.

Morrell acknowledged 16 service members have been killed in electrical accidents since March 2003, but said half were killed off base.

"We grieve for each and every one of them," he said. "But it is wrong to suggest that all these deaths were the result of shoddy workmanship by defense contractors or lack of oversight by the Pentagon."

Acting Defense Department Inspector General Gordon Heddell is one of four Pentagon officials expected to testify on the matter before the House Government Reform Committee, the Armed Forces Press Service reported.

The committee is investigating whether KBR, the defense contractor responsible for building and maintaining much of the U.S. infrastructure in Iraq, and the Army have caused deaths among American service members in Iraq through negligence.

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