Regime change in Iraq came relatively quickly, and, if it can be said of war, relatively efficiently. Rebuilding the shattered economy and infrastructure of the country is going to be achieved neither quickly nor, most would suspect, efficiently. Already there is a rush to establish the first commercial footings.
Forwarders and service providers are busy setting-up advance bases, extending their networks and signing up local agency agreements.
Or so they claim. Most will boast of how quickly they have reacted to the turn of events in gaining access and getting people in on the ground.
Inquire as to how long they have had their various operations in place and the kind of response you will get is: "Well, since yesterday, but speak to me tomorrow and we may be able to update you some more."
The situation is highly fluid and changes by the day.
There may be a rush to get into the country, but according to Pat Roche commercial director of AN124 operator, Volga Dnepr, it is not going to be a gold rush.
"People have been making comparisons with Afghanistan and expecting the same to happen in Iraq," he said. "But Afghanistan is a landlocked country, where in the initial stages after the war, nearly everything had to be flown in."
Volga Dnepr should know. It operated more than 250 AN-124 flights into Afghanistan in the immediate aftermath of the war there. Goods continue to flow into that country, although the urgency of air shipments has tailed off as the world's attention has turned elsewhere.
"Iraq is a different story, with relatively good land and sea access," explains Roche.
"Once the airport infrastructure has been fully restored, that will provide a third option. Also, this is, we believe, a market which will be restored over a more measured period of time. Some people are talking in terms of as long as two years."
Volga Dnepr, like the other heavyweight operators, was on active duty during the short military campaign, ferrying in support equipment and supplies to Kuwait and other points in the Persian Gulf region.
"We are making provision to have capacity available to help with the re-build, but to be honest we are not planning for a massive Afghanistan-style demand," says Roche. "We expect to get calls from the oil industry to help restore the country's oil production and there may be a need to help get any large-scale telecommunications project up and running. But apart from that we will be looking to Iraq as a normal project market."
Several of the larger service providers, not surprisingly mostly the United States majors, were also kept busy during the actual conflict.
But now, they like their other global and regional …