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A Tough Job, and Halliburton Does It

October 10, 2004|David Lesar | David Lesar is chief executive of Halliburton.

Halliburton has become a political issue in this presidential election year. You're hearing a lot about us. But what you're not hearing are the facts.

I know because I've just returned from Baghdad, where once again I watched our employees at work and once again I found myself in awe of their determination and tenacity. These men and women -- more than 30,000 of them working for our subsidiary, KBR -- are risking their lives each day to provide high-quality support to U.S. troops. Tragically, 48 employees and subcontractors of KBR have been killed while working to support the troops.

To me, that makes them heroes. But instead of their praises being sung, their work is under attack, and the company's contract with the government has become a target in this presidential campaign.

Let me try to clear up some of the misinformation. First of all, the talented people of KBR have been supporting the military for 60 years.

We began providing support to the U.S. military during World War II -- building warships -- and continued that support in the Korean and Vietnam wars, when we built port facilities and airports. We helped provide humanitarian assistance in famine-stricken Somalia and logistical support in the Balkans. We also provide military support in Uzbekistan, Georgia, Afghanistan, Djibouti, Kuwait, Jordan and Turkey.

As the rhetoric heats up further in the few weeks before the election, we hope you will ask yourself: Do I have all the facts?

For instance, there are frequent references to our "no-bid" contract to support the U.S. soldiers in Iraq. The fact is that after a fully competitive and open bid process we were awarded a contract in 2001, well before the war in Iraq, to provide logistical support for U.S. soldiers wherever they might be deployed.

KBR did receive, at the outbreak of the war, a sole-source contract issued under urgent conditions to quickly restore the flow of Iraqi oil. But what you will not often read is that the independent General Accounting Office has since reviewed the contract and reported that it was "properly awarded ... to the only contractor [the Defense Department] had determined was in a position to provide the services within the required time frame given classified prewar planning requirements." And you will almost never read that profit margins on these contracts are extremely low and that the oil contract was replaced early this year by one that was competitively bid.

Mischaracterizations and incomplete facts do a grave disservice to the employees and subcontractors who are working in Iraq. Never before has any contractor worked in as dangerous a situation as they are. Halliburton is providing jobs for Americans, and we are supporting the troops with the largest civilian workforce ever assembled in support of a military operation.

We are concentrating on our mission to provide the troops with the best food, shelter and logistical support possible in the challenging and dangerous environment of Iraq.

Halliburton's work in Iraq is diverse and complicated. In addition to our care for the troops, we also provide air traffic control support; produce 74 million gallons of water a month for consumption, hygiene and laundry; deploy as many as 700 trucks a day to deliver essentials to the troops; provide firefighter and crash-rescue services. And we are helping rebuild the country's oil infrastructure, which was decimated by the war.

Not many companies in the world could or would do this work. As CEO of a great company with 100,000 employees, I am extremely proud of the tough work we do. We thrive on the challenge. We're committed to delivering the essentials to the men and women serving our country. They deserve nothing less. And we hope the next time you hear an attack on Halliburton, you'll question whether you're receiving all the facts about our work.

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