Below is Stephen Colbert’s interview with former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
The main feature in this interview is the declassified memo (PDF) from General Myers and an accompanying eight-page Joint Chiefs of Staff report which makes clear that the Intelligence Community’s (IC) “don’t know with any precision how much we don’t know” and that “knowledge of the Iraqi nuclear weapons program is based largely – perhaps 90% – on analysis of imprecise intelligence.” Read more here via UNREDACTED from the National Security Archive.
On December 18, the USDOJ announced the indictment by a grand jury of former State Department employee, Kenneth Apple, 65, of Beaverton, Oregon, on charges related to his role in allegedly awarding $2 million in micro-dairy contracts from the U.S. government for use in Iraq.
Via DOJ/U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Virginia:
According to the indictment, Apple, a former employee with the U.S. Department of State, helped to steer the sole-sourcing of $2 million in micro-dairy contracts to a company in which his son, Jonathan Apple, owned a 50 percent interest. However, Jonathan Apple and his partner had no technical experience in the industry. Kenneth Apple conspired to use his official position to pass on non-public information to his son in order to fraudulently award and administer government contracts. The conspirators further provided false information to, and concealed material details from the U.S. government.
According to the indictment, Kenneth Apple provided templates and technical specifications used in the proposal submitted by Jonathan Apple and his partner to the U.S. government. In addition, Kenneth Apple caused false and misleading statements to be made to the U.S. government regarding his experience, ownership interest, and the status of the projects. For example, Kenneth Apple directed a conspirator to keep Jonathan Apple’s name off the company’s website and any ownership documents. When federal law enforcement agents confronted Kenneth Apple about the scheme, he made false statements, including that he could not recall the owner of the company that won the micro-dairy contracts and that he did not receive any money from the contracts.
Kenneth Apple faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison if convicted of wire fraud or obstruction of an official proceeding, and five years in prison if convicted of conspiracy or false statements. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; Frank Robey, Director of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit (MPFU); and Robert E. Craig, Special Agent in Charge for the Defense Criminal Investigative Service’s (DCIS) Mid-Atlantic Field Office, made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Uzo Asonye and Katherine Wong are prosecuting the case.
According to court records, Kenneth D. Apple was arrested on December 18 in Oregon. His defense is currently listed as the Office of the Federal Public Defender in Alexandria, Virginia.
The indictment says that Kenneth D. Apple was a civilian employee with the Department of State assigned to the Kirkuk PRT in Iraq from January 2009 through March 2011 as an agricultural advisor. Micro-dairy processors are self-contained, mini-factories that are used to process milk into cheese and yogurt.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:15-cr-363.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
The State Department is seeking information for the availability of a new medical service provider for U.S. Mission Iraq. There is an incumbent contractor, CHS Middle East, LLC of Cape Canaveral, Florida. The total estimated contract value for the incumbent contractor is approximately $234M. According to the fedbiz announcement, the health units and diplomatic support hospitals will need to be mission capable by summer 2016. Below is an excerpt from the announcement:
Government is requesting information regarding the availability and feasibility of attracting new medical service providers to support the requirements of the U.S. Mission Iraq as described in this RFI. This notice is issued solely for information and planning purposes and does not constitute a Request for Proposal (RFP) or a commitment on the part of the Government to conduct a solicitation for the below-listed services in the future.
The DOS has a follow-on requirement for a Contractor to provide medical service support to U.S. Government (USG) personnel, USG third party contractors and authorized foreign nationals in Iraq. These medical services will be provided at USG facilities and include but are not limited to the following: general medical, surgical, orthopedic, gynecologic, dental, behavioral health, public health, urgent and emergency care and mortuary affairs. In order to fulfill these requirements the Contractor is responsible for providing trained and certified health care professionals (e.g., physicians, nurse practitioners, surgeons, emergency medical technicians, etc…) and the administrative services and staff to equip and operate the USG contractor-operated health care facilities in Iraq.
The Contractor is responsible for performing random and non-random drug testing for other third party contractors operating in support of the DOS in Iraq. Additionally, because other third party contractors require Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) in country, the Contractor is responsible for the medic validation and verification to ensure the verification of maintenance of credentials for EMTs.
Supported population is between 3500-5800
While the primary place of performance is throughout the country of Iraq, the Contractor may be tasked with providing temporary medical service support to other USG facilities located in the Near East Region (i.e., North Africa and the Middle East).
The BDSC Large Diplomatic Support Hospital not only provides primary care to personnel at BDSC, but also may serve as the secondary and trauma care center for the patient population within U.S. Mission Iraq (4300 – 5800 personnel). These services include evacuation management and mortuary affairs.
The Contractor shall provide on-site primary, urgent and initial emergency care for general medical, surgical, orthopedic, gynecologic, and mental health conditions; triage, stabilize and evacuate patients to the next level of medical care; and keep up to two patients in the Health Unit (HU) for up to 24 hours until stabilized or medically evacuated. Staffing shall be continuous and uninterrupted; coverage for illness and vacations shall be the responsibility of the Contractor.
The Contractor is responsible for providing routine care during regular working hours and on an emergency basis after normal working hours based on Chief of Mission (COM) requirements. Medical Service Support Iraq (MSSI) II; Solicitation SAQMMA-15-SS-MSSI .
Secretary Kerry Poses for a Photo With General Allen, Ambassador Jones, Assistant Secretary Patterson, and Deputy Assistant Secretary McGurk at Ambassador Jones’ Swearing-in Ceremony From left to right, General John Allen, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Ambassador-designate to Iraq Stuart Jones, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Anne Patterson, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Brett McGurk pose for a photo at the swearing-in ceremony for Ambassador Jones at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on September 17, 2014. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]
As of this writing, Embassy Baghdad’s website is still showing Robert Stephen Beecroft as the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Ambassador Beecroft was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the next ambassador to Cairo on June 26, 2014.
Prior to his appointment to Baghdad, Ambassador Jones was the COM at the US Embassy in Jordan. President Obama announced his nomination on May 8, 2014. He was confirmed by the Senate together with Ambassador Beecroft on June 26, 2014. The WH released the following brief bio at that time:
Ambassador Stuart E. Jones, a career member of the Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, is currently the U.S. Ambassador to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, a position he has held since 2011. Ambassador Jones previously served in Iraq as Deputy Chief of Mission in Baghdad from 2010 to 2011 and as Governorate Coordinator for Al Anbar Province in 2004. He was Director for Iraq on the National Security Council staff from 2004 to 2005. Ambassador Jones served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs at the Department of State from 2008 to 2010. Prior to this, he was Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt from 2005 to 2008. Ambassador Jones served as Political Counselor in Ankara, Turkey from 2000 to 2002, and Principal Officer in Adana, Turkey from 1997 to 2000. He served as Legal Advisor at the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador, El Salvador from 1990 to 1992 and as Consular Officer in Bogota, Colombia from 1988 to 1989. At the Department of State, he served as Deputy Director for European Regional Political Military Affairs and as Desk Officer for Serbia. Ambassador Jones also was the Executive Assistant to the Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations from 1994 to 1996. He received an A.B. from Duke University and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.
Secretary Kerry’s top Iraq team members also joined Ambassador Jones’ swearing-in ceremony. On September 13, 2014, the State Department announced the appointment of General John Allen as the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Brett McGurk as his deputy senior envoy with the rank of Ambassador.
The United States has asked one of our most respected and experienced military experts, General John Allen, to join the State Department to serve as Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL. In this role, General Allen will help build and sustain the coalition so it can operate across multiple lines of effort in order to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL. General Allen is a patriot and a remarkable leader. His extraordinary career in the military speaks for itself. Whether as the top commander of NATO’s ISAF forces in Afghanistan during a critical period from 2011-2013, or as a deputy commander in Anbar during the Sunni awakening, or as a thinker, scholar, and teacher at the U.S. Naval Academy. And he has done significant public service out of uniform since he returned to civilian life. His commitment to country and to service has really been enduring.
Most recently we worked together very closely in designing new approaches to meet the long-term security needs of the state of Israel, and I could not be more pleased than to have General Allen coming on board now fulltime at the State Department.
He’ll be joined by a terrific team, including Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Brett McGurk, who will serve as General Allen’s deputy senior envoy with the rank of Ambassador. Not only has Brett been back and forth to Baghdad and Erbil almost every month this past year, but he has also spent a number of years over the past decade posted in Iraq as a top advisor to three different Ambassadors. Brett is one of our foremost experts on Iraq, and he will be integral to this effort’s success. Both General Allen and Ambassador McGurk will begin work immediately.
Hello SPE/GCCISIL! Not sure if this will be a separate office and how many staffers it will have. The Special Envoys and Reps according to the official org chart report directly to the Secretary. As of this time, we could not locate General Allen in the organizational chart or the telephone directory. Ambassador McGurk (doesn’t he need confirmation?) is still listed as a DAS for Iran/Iraq.
Today, the State Department issued an update to its August 8 Travel Warning for Iraq noting the departure of a “limited” number of staff from our posts in Baghdad and Erbil to the Consulate General in Basrah and Amman, Jordan.
Map via CIA.gov (click on image to see larger view)
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all but essential travel to Iraq. Travel within Iraq remains dangerous given the security situation. The Embassy in Baghdad and the Consulate General in Erbil remain open and operating, but the Department of State has relocated a limited number of staff members from the Embassy in Baghdad and the Consulate General in Erbil to the Consulate General in Basrah and the Iraq Support Unit in Amman. The Embassy in Baghdad and the Consulate General in Erbil remain open and operating. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning dated August 8, 2014, to note the departure of some staff from the Consulate General in Erbil. The ability of the Embassy to respond to situations in which U.S. citizens face difficulty, including arrests, is extremely limited.
U.S. citizens in Iraq remain at high risk for kidnapping and terrorist violence. Methods of attack have included roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs), including explosively formed penetrators (EFPs); magnetic IEDs placed on vehicles; human and vehicle-borne IEDs; mines placed on or concealed near roads; mortars and rockets; and shootings using various direct fire weapons. These and other attacks frequently occur in public gathering places, such as cafes, markets and other public venues.
Numerous insurgent groups, including ISIL, previously known as al-Qa’ida in Iraq, remain active and terrorist activity and violence persist in many areas of the country. ISIL and its allies control Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, and have captured significant territory across central Iraq and continue to engage with Iraqi security forces in that region. In early August, the threat to the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR) increased considerably with the advance of ISIL towards Kurdish areas.
Due to the potential of political protests and demonstrations to become violent, U.S. citizens in Iraq are strongly urged to avoid protests and large gatherings.
Three days ago, President Obama ordered U.S. aircraft to drop humanitarian supplies to tens of thousands of Yezidi refugees fleeing the terrorists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in northern Iraq. The president also ordered U.S. combat aircraft to be ready to launch airstrikes to protect Americans in Erbil, Iraq.
On August 8, the Pentagon announced that at approximately 6:45 a.m. EDT, the U.S. military conducted a targeted airstrike against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorists.
Two F/A-18 aircraft dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on a mobile artillery piece near Erbil. ISIL was using this artillery to shell Kurdish forces defending Erbil where U.S. personnel are located. The decision to strike was made by the U.S. Central Command commander under authorization granted him by the commander in chief. As the president made clear, the United States military will continue to take direct action against ISIL when they threaten our personnel and facilities.
Pentagon releases indicate that to date, U.S. military aircraft have delivered more than 52,000 meals and more than 10,600 gallons of fresh drinking water to the displaced Yezidis seeking refuge from ISIL on the mountain.
USCG Erbil which remains open is headed by Joseph Pennington, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service who assumed his duties as Consul General in Erbil in July 2013. Prior to his arrival in Erbil, Mr. Pennington served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Prague, Czech Republic (2010-13) and held the same position in Yerevan, Armenia (2007-10).
USCG Basrah is headed by Matthias Mitman, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service who assumed post as Consul General in Basrah in September 2013. He previously served as the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) at the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras from 2011-2013 and as the Minister Counselor for Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow from 2009-2011. He was the Director for Iraq at the National Security Council from 2006-2008 with responsibility for U.S. economic policy in Iraq and international engagement. Before joining the NSC staff, Mr. Matthias was assigned to U.S. Embassy Baghdad as Senior Economic Advisor.
A James Risen scoop over in NYT on how a warning on Blackwater in Iraq prior to the 2007 Nisour Square shooting that killed 17 civilians was ignored by the State Department. Quick excerpt:
State Department investigators arrived in Baghdad on Aug. 1, 2007, to begin a monthlong review of Blackwater’s operations, the situation became volatile. Internal State Department documents, which were turned over to plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Blackwater that was unrelated to the Nisour Square shooting, provide details of what happened.
It did not take long for the two-man investigative team — Mr. Richter, a Diplomatic Security special agent, and Donald Thomas Jr., a State Department management analyst — to discover a long list of contract violations by Blackwater.
The armored vehicles Blackwater used to protect American diplomats were poorly maintained and deteriorating, and the investigators found that four drunk guards had commandeered one heavily armored, $180,000 vehicle to drive to a private party, and crashed into a concrete barrier. […] The investigators concluded that Blackwater was getting away with such conduct because embassy personnel had gotten too close to the contractor. […] The next day, the two men met with Daniel Carroll, Blackwater’s project manager in Iraq, to discuss the investigation, including a complaint over food quality and sanitary conditions at a cafeteria in Blackwater’s compound. Mr. Carroll barked that Mr. Richter could not tell him what to do about his cafeteria, Mr. Richter’s report said. The Blackwater official went on to threaten the agent and say he would not face any consequences, according to Mr. Richter’s later account.
Mr. Carroll said “that he could kill me at that very moment and no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq,” Mr. Richter wrote in a memo to senior State Department officials in Washington. He noted that Mr. Carroll had formerly served with Navy SEAL Team 6, an elite unit.
[…] On Oct. 5, 2007, just as the State Department and Blackwater were being rocked by scandal in the aftermath of Nisour Square, State Department officials finally responded to Mr. Richter’s August warning about Blackwater. They took statements from Mr. Richter and Mr. Thomas about their accusations of a threat by Mr. Carroll, but took no further action.
Condoleezza Rice, then the secretary of state, named a special panel to examine the Nisour Square episode and recommend reforms, but the panel never interviewed Mr. Richter or Mr. Thomas.
Patrick Kennedy, the State Department official who led the special panel, told reporters on Oct. 23, 2007, that the panel had not found any communications from the embassy in Baghdad before the Nisour Square shooting that raised concerns about contractor conduct.
“We interviewed a large number of individuals,” Mr. Kennedy said. “We did not find any, I think, significant pattern of incidents that had not — that the embassy had suppressed in any way.”
QUESTION: Hi, this is Brian Bennett from Time magazine. I’m wondering in these reviews — why this review wasn’t done earlier, complaints about contractor conduct have been relayed to Ambassador Khalilzad, tocharge d’affaires Margaret Scobey, to Ambassador Crocker. And I’m wondering if in looking into this you had found any communiqus that have gone out of the Embassy into main State in the months prior to the September 16th incident about concerns about contractor conduct and why wasn’t – why it took an event like September 16th for these concerns to be addressed?
AMBASSADOR KENNEDY: We — when you look through the report you’ll see that we interviewed a large number — large number of individuals. We did not find any, I think, significant pattern of incidents that had not — that the Embassy had suppressed in any way. No one told us that they had — that they had made reports to the Embassy that had been suppressed.
We found the Panel’s 2007 report (see below). The Panel was composed of Eric Boswell, George Joulwan, J. Stapleton Roy and Patrick F. Kennedy. Appended at the end of the report are the list of interviewees, which includes the acting RSO named in the NYT report. It does not, however, include the names of the Blackwater project manager, or Jean C. Richter, the Diplomatic Security special agent nor Donald Thomas Jr., the State Department management analyst. According to the NYT, Mr. Richter and Mr. Thomas declined to comment for its article.
Mr. Richter’s report that the private security firm’s manager there had threatened to kill him, an episode that occurred just weeks before Blackwater guards shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square is available here via NYT. We note also that Ambassador Kennedy was appointed Under Secretary of State for Management (M) on November 6, 2007. Prior to assuming his position as “M,” he was Director of the Office of Management Policy, Rightsizing, and Innovation (M/PRI) from May 2007.
Read the Secretary of State’s Report on Personal Protective Service Details from 2007:
That did not take long. On June 25, the SFRC cleared President Obama’s nominees for Iraq and Egypt. Today, the U.S. Senate confirmed the nominees for those two posts:
Stuart E. Jones, of Virginia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Iraq; Confirmed: 93-0
Robert Stephen Beecroft, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Arab Republic of Egypt (voice vote)
Yesterday, the Senate also confirmed the nomination of our next ambassador to Djibouti:
Thomas P. Kelly III, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Djibouti.
QUESTION: Is it just a chance to have some members of the embassy work remotely?
MS. PSAKI: It is a situation, Lucas, where we evaluate the security and – on the ground. And at our posts and embassies around the world we made a decision that the right step here was to relocate some of our staff to other parts of Iraq and to a supporting neighboring country and so that’s the step we took and that’s why we took it.
QUESTION: And —
QUESTION: — hold on. Just to follow up —
MS. PSAKI: But let me reiterate one thing: Our embassy staff and our embassy is open and operating. Our diplomatic team at the highest levels is engaged closely with the Iraqis and that will continue.
QUESTION: But it just has a fifth of the amount of personnel as it did before.
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into specific numbers, but again, a range of these employees are temporarily relocating – temporarily – to some other areas in Iraq, and again a close neighboring country.
MOCK EMBASSY EVACUATION | A landing craft air cushioned assigned to Beach Master Unit 1 arrives to offload vehicles supporting a mock embassy evacuation during Rim of the Pacific 2008. RIMPAC is the world’s largest multinational exercise and is scheduled biennially by the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Participants include the United States, Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, the Netherlands, Peru, Republic of Korea, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Walter Pels
Today, the State Department issued a new Travel Warning for Kenya. It further announced that the Embassy is “relocating some staff to other countries” but that “the Embassy will remain open for normal operations.” The relocation is not specifically called “authorized” or “ordered” departure. The announcement only says “some staff”and it is not clear whether these are family members or non-essential personnel they are evacuating relocating. We take it this is not considered an evacuation either? Is this a new trend? When can we see this in the DSSR? (Also see US Embassy Kenya: Isn’t That Travel Warning Odd or What?).
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Kenya. The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Kenya. U.S. citizens in Kenya, and those considering travel to Kenya, should evaluate their personal security situation in light of continuing and recently heightened threats from terrorism and the high rate of violent crime in some areas. Due to the terrorist attack on June 15 in Mpeketoni, in Lamu County, the U.S. Embassy instituted restrictions on U.S. government personnel travel to all coastal counties – Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Lamu, and the coastal portion only of Tana River County.
Based on the recent changes in Kenya’s security situation, the Embassy is also relocating some staff to other countries. However, the Embassy will remain open for normal operations. This replaces the Travel Warning of May 17, 2014, to update information about embassy staffing and current travel recommendations.
The U.S. government continues to receive information about potential terrorist threats aimed at U.S., Western, and Kenyan interests in Kenya, including the Nairobi area and the coastal cities of Mombasa and Diani. Terrorist acts can include suicide operations, bombings – to include car bombings – kidnappings, attacks on civil aviation, and attacks on maritime vessels in or near Kenyan ports. Although the pursuit of those responsible for previous terrorist activities continues, many of those involved remain at large and still operate in the region. Travelers should consult the Worldwide Caution for further information and details.
We should note that the State Department’s Family Liaison Office does not have any current guidance for employees on temporary relocationdue to an official non-evacuation.
Makes one wonder how these employees on temporary relocation are assisted by the government. Were they all issued TDY orders to other countries? Were they sent on early R&Rs? How about their family members?
See — an evacuation status is authorized by the Under Secretary of State for Management in 30-day increments, up to a maximum of 180 days, per DSSR 623f. When an evacuation is declared, a Subsistence Expense Allowance (SEA) is given to official evacuees. “Transitional separate maintenance allowance” TSMA is also granted to assist employees with additional costs they incur when their family members are required to occupy temporary commercial housing while establishing permanent housing in the U.S. following an evacuation and the conversion of the post to an unaccompanied status.
If this is in fact a “temporary relocation” with staffers sent on TDYs,there would be no evacuation orders, and there would be no evacuation allowances paid to staffers or family members relocated to other countries. The 180-day clock will not starting running.
If this is called a “temporary relocation” but staffers and/or family members are issued evac orders, granted evacuation allowances and the 180 day clock is on, then this is in fact an evacuation even if it’s not called that; and we’ll need a new State Department dictionary.
The New Embassy Compound (NEC) in Baghdad was the most expensive construction in the world in 2009. Although a fixed amount is hard to come by, it is estimated that the construction cost amounted to approximately $700 million. In 2012, WaPo reported a $115 million embassy upgrade. If we add that and all other State Department capital projects in Iraq from FY2011, we would have to add approximately $411 million to the cost of the USG footprint in Iraq. Despite the recent rightsizing exercise, it remains the largest, and the most expensive diplomatic mission in the world.
The 104-acre U.S. Embassy in Iraq is the largest embassy in the world not just in terms of size at 420,873 square meters, but also personnel at 5,500 (estimated Jan 2014 headcount) and operational cost at $3.23 billion in FY2012. (Note: It is not the largest site in terms of diplomatic properties as the Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center (BDSC) compound is located on a 350-acre facility adjacent to Baghdad International Airport). A quick comparison — one of our smallest embassies, the US Embassy in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea is 1,208 square meters, so 348 US Embassy Malabo NECs would fit into Embassy Baghdad. As well, the New Embassy London is 54,000 square meters, so about 7 1/2 of them would fit into Embassy Baghdad.
It may be that in a couple of years, with the ongoing construction of the New Embassy London and New Embassy Islamabad (each may hit the $1 billion mark), Embassy Baghdad will no longer be the most expensive embassy in the world, but for now, it is still the post with the mostest.
In 2009, the OIG inspectors identified the number of factors that have contributed to the size of this Embassy:
(1) implementation of a civilian assistance program of over $24 billion;
(2) a wide-ranging capacity-building program covering most key ministries in the Iraqi National Government and, through the PRTs, all provincial governments;
(3) the legacy of running the country and then working hand-in-glove with the Iraqis as they assumed more responsibility for funding their own development;
(4) the need to coordinate with the U.S. military in practically all aspects of the Embassy’s responsibilities; and
(5) the inability to have host-country LE staff provide the support and services that they do in almost all other embassies in the world. Also, the fact that employees can take three separate 22-day long rest and recuperation trips (R&Rs) means that staffing has to be larger to ensure full coverage.
One could argue that a combination of the above reasons are also driving the size and growth of our embassies in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
According to the OIG, Embassy Baghdad’s security budget in 2012 was $698 million. It notes that “As long as the staff cannot move safely and independently outside compound walls, maintaining a robust security apparatus and meeting the life support needs of the mission staff will require significantly more financial and personnel resources than at other U.S. missions.”
In 2013, the OIG inspectors warned that the large Iraq footprints, expensive to guard and maintain even after the rightsizing exercise, will strain support for diplomatic facilities worldwide when special appropriations that fund them end.
On June 16, 2014, the President transmitted a report notifying the Congress that up to approximately 275 U.S. military personnel are deploying to Iraq to provide support and security for U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Today, AFPS reports that President Obama announced plans to send up to 300 military advisers to Iraq to help the government in Baghdad combat a rapid advance by Sunni-led insurgents.
On June 15, the State Department issued a statement that Embassy Baghdad “remains open and will continue to engage daily with Iraqis and their elected leaders.” Also that the embassy is reviewing its staffing requirement as it anticipates additional U.S. government security personnel in light of ongoing instability and violence in the country. It also announced that some Embassy Baghdad staff will be “temporarily relocated – both to our Consulate Generals in Basra and Erbil and to the Iraq Support Unit in Amman.”
Map via CIA World Fact Book
CNN is now reporting that between 50 and 100 U.S. Marines and U.S. Army personnel have arrived at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
The Pentagon statement on June 15 says that “The temporary relocation of some embassy personnel is being facilitated aboard commercial, charter and State Department aircraft, as appropriate.”
The official statements use “temporary relocation” to describe this movement of personnel, which includes relocation to Amman, Jordan. Is this an attempt to avoid the negative connotation associated with the term “evacuation.” Similarly, in early June, US Embassy Tripoli went on drawdown of personnel without ever announcing whether it went on evac status (See Did US Embassy Tripoli Go on “Sort of a Drawdown” Without Going on Evacuation Status?).
The official statement on Embassy Baghdad also says that “a substantial majority of the U.S. Embassy presence in Iraq will remain in place and the Embassy will be fully equipped to carry out its national security mission.” The mission was expected to reduce its headcount to 5,500 in January 2014. If that in fact happened earlier this year, we can still expect a remaining staff of at least 2,750 plus whatever number you consider amounts to a “substantial majority.”
Below is the State Department statement:
The United States strongly supports Iraq and its people as they face security challenges from violent extremists. The people of Iraq have repeatedly rejected violent extremism and expressed their desire to build a better society for themselves and for their children.
The Embassy of the United States in Baghdad remains open and will continue to engage daily with Iraqis and their elected leaders – supporting them as they strengthen Iraq’s constitutional processes and defend themselves from imminent threats.
As a result of ongoing instability and violence in certain areas of Iraq, Embassy Baghdad is reviewing its staffing requirements in consultation with the State Department. Some additional U.S. government security personnel will be added to the staff in Baghdad; other staff will be temporarily relocated – both to our Consulate Generals in Basra and Erbil and to the Iraq Support Unit in Amman. Overall, a substantial majority of the U.S. Embassy presence in Iraq will remain in place and the Embassy will be fully equipped to carry out its national security mission.
We advise U.S. citizens in Iraq to exercise caution and limit travel to Anbar, Ninawa, Salah ad-Din, Diyala, and Kirkuk provinces; make their own contingency emergency plans; and maintain security awareness at all times.
Below is the DOD statement via the American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 15, 2014 – At the State Department’s request, the U.S. military is providing security assistance for U.S. diplomatic facilities in Baghdad, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said today.
In a statement, Kirby said a small number of Defense Department personnel are augmenting State Department security assets in Baghdad to help ensure the safety of U.S. facilities.
“The temporary relocation of some embassy personnel is being facilitated aboard commercial, charter and State Department aircraft, as appropriate,” Kirby added. “The U.S. military has airlift assets at the ready should State Department request them, as per normal interagency support arrangements.”
Our military airlift asset is at the ready. Depending on what happens next, we might be hearing more about a noncombatant evacuation operation (NEO). This gave us an excuse to revisit DOD’s joint publication on NEOs:
The State Department (DOS), acting on the advice of the ambassador, will determine when US noncombatants and foreign nationals are to be evacuated. When unexpected violence flares up or appears imminent and communications with the DOS are cut off, the ambassador may invoke such elements of the plan and initiate such actions as the situation warrants.
During NEOs the US ambassador, not the combatant commander (CCDR) or subordinate joint force commander (JFC), is the senior United States Government (USG) authority for the evacuation and, as such, is ultimately responsible for the successful completion of the NEO and the safety of the evacuees. The decision to evacuate a US embassy and the order to execute a NEO is political.
And — we don’t even have an ambassador in Baghdad. On June 11, Ambassador Robert S. Beecroft, still listed as our U.S.ambassador to Iraq went before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) for his confirmation hearing as our next ambassador to Egypt. The nominee for Embassy Baghdad, Ambassador Stuart E. Jones (previously of US Embassy Jordan) also went before the committee on the same day. Read his testimony here(pdf).
The Beecroft and Jones nominations as far as we could tell have yet to make it out of the SFRC. The State Department’s Key Officers list published this month includes John P. Desrocher as DCM for Embassy Baghdad. Mr. Desrocher previously served as the U.S. Consul General in Auckland, New Zealand. In 2010, he was the Director of the Office of Iraq Affairs at the State Department.
The Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq and Iran Brett McGurk tweeted on June 13: “In #Baghdad, have been meeting intensively with leaders across the political spectrum and conferring with our national security team in DC.”
Embassy Baghdad has not listed a chargé d’affaires on its website; we don’t know who is in charge of the mission. Post has not responded to our inquiry as of this writing.