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Halliburton gets a head start
Help wanted: Firm once headed by Cheney was gearing up to rebuild Iraq before war started.
March 26, 2003: 3:34 PM EST
By Mark Gongloff, CNN/Money Staff Writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - The ad promised "overseas opportunities" for "building the future" and "powering new ideas."

It sought employees in several fields to work in the "Central Asia region," including mechanics for M1 Abrams tanks and M2/3 Bradley armored fighting vehicles -- the kind of weaponry the U.S. Army is currently moving toward Baghdad, the capital of the central Asian nation called Iraq.

The ad, placed by KBR Government Operations, a unit of Kellogg Brown & Root, the construction unit of Halliburton Co., ran in the Chicago Tribune Feb. 9 -- more than a month before the war in Iraq started.

Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall said the ad was not designed to seek workers for any specific job.

"KBR has many global operations where ads ... are placed to ensure the company maintains current information on persons seeking employment with the company," Hall said.

But the ad, which sought power generator mechanics, water treatment and purification specialists, project managers, firefighters and specialists in dozens of other fields, was certainly well-timed to take advantage of what could soon be a boon to Halliburton's bottom line -- a plum U.S. government contract to help rebuild post-war Iraq.

Halliburton, once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, who was CEO of the company from 1995-2000, has reportedly put in a bid to win a State Department contract worth up to $600 million to serve as the general contractor to manage the rebuilding effort.

The job will include emergency repair of electrical supply facilities, water and sanitation systems, roads and bridges, public buildings such as hospitals and schools, irrigation structures and ports.

And the army of employees required to complete these tasks will need food, housing and clean clothes. The Feb. 9 KBR ad also sought specialists in the areas of food service, laundry services, housing services and safety.

Other positions sought in the Feb. 9 ad included secretaries "with security clearance," air traffic controllers, weather observers, paramedics, and aviation support specialists.

Late Monday, Halliburton, the largest U.S. oil field services company, won an Army contract to put out oil well fires and make emergency repairs to Iraq's oil fields.

Cheney sold all his Halliburton stock when he became President Bush's vice presidential nominee in 2000. He held on to some options, but has promised to donate all profits to charity. He still gets deferred compensation from Halliburton every year, but he's guaranteed to get that whether the company thrives or falls into bankruptcy.

Halliburton (HAL: Research, Estimates) shares edged higher in afternoon trading Wednesday.  Top of page

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