US Embassaurus Baghdad About to Get Even Bigger? Like Super Big? Like LA’s Super Rock?

Mother god of thunder, what wonderful news you bring us!

The US Embassaurus in Baghdad will not just be the biggest and most expensive in the world, it is on its way to becoming super big; like that very big rock in Los Angeles now fondly called, “Levitated Mass, by the artful.

Despite official claims to the contrary of “rightsizing” the mission, this will help ensure that US Embassaurus Baghdad will continue to hold the world’s record as the biggest with the mostest.  Yes, yes, by all means — go bid there during the AIP cycle (is that about now?) while it is still the record holder.  Just so you know that US Embassy London, US Embassy Kabul and US Embassy Islamabad are all vying for that same dubious honor.  Of course, given all accommodation shown by our friends allies frienemies in Pakistan in the construction of the new diplomatic digs there, and given the potential that they would want to shave off the floors above four-five storeys, there is a fighting chance that US Embassy Pakistan will grab the record before all this is over.

Via WaPo’s Walter Pincus:

The State Department is planning to spend up to $115 million to upgrade the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad, already its biggest and most expensive in the world, according to pre-solicitation notices published this month.

Remember, it has been 3 1 / 2 years since American diplomats moved into the 104-acre, $700 million facility and only four months after State officials in February talked about trying to cut back the U.S. presence there.

State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) put out a statement Wednesday saying new planning began after it was determined there needed to be “a larger population on the Baghdad Embassy compound, due to the consolidation of satellite diplomatic facilities and property around Baghdad.”
The statement added, “The consolidation takes the overall diplomatic property in Baghdad down by one-third, but increases the personnel working and living on the Embassy compound.”

Here is a quick rundown:

SAQMMA-12-R0271-:  Baghdad, Iraq, New Power Plant, Life Safety and Utility Infrastructure Upgrade Project

Estimated Price Tag: $60 – 80 million

Estimated performance period:  24 months

The project will consist of the following:

  • A central utility power plant consisting of equally sized generators capable of parallel operation
  • Adequate 21-day underground fuel storage
  • A new utility building for the generators and switchgear
  • Compound-wide electrical distribution system
  • Compound-wide site electrical infrastructure
  • Waste heat utilization program
  • Compound-wide fire main replacement and fire water distribution upgrade
  • Compound-wide domestic water system upgrade
  • Compound-wide sanitary sewer system upgrade
  • Compound-wide storm water system upgrade
  • Compound-wide telecommunications system upgrade (telephone, data, CATV)
  • New communication central office building
  • Interface with communication tower (installed by others)

The Embassy compound is approximately 104 acres, located in the International Zone of Baghdad, Iraq.  The entire compound will be affected by this project.

SAQMMA-12-R0288:  Baghdad, Iraq, Major Rehabilitation Project

Estimated Price Tag: $20 – 35 million. 

Estimated performance period:  11 months

The Major Rehab project will consist of the renovation of an existing annex building and installation of independent support systems.  The Major Rehab will include interior partitions, electrical/telecommunication systems upgrades, extensive mechanical and plumbing systems, fire/life safety installations, commissioning and certification.

The Embassy compound is located in the International Zone of Baghdad, Iraq. The annex building is a three story structure with a fourth level penthouse.  The area to be renovated includes approximately 334 net square meters and has been laid out to accommodate a Data Hall and Office Area on a 450mm high raised access flooring system

Of course, we just dedicated that US Embassy in Baghdad, remember? So three years after it was officially launched and marked its claim to fame, we already need a rehab and an upgrade?  In a place where we’re supposed to be “rightsizing” our footprint? Is there no end to this?  Yes, yes, it is still much cheaper than when troops were in that country. But that’s like splurging just because there is a fire sale!

This is, of course, the same embassy with so little influence within the Iraqi Government.  Just recently, it took a two-week bureaucratic debate before the GoI released the body of Michael David Copeland because the Iraqis insist on performing an autopsy on his remains. Man, if we can’t even get the Iraqis to compromise on the release of our dead, how can we get them to compromise on something for the living?

The AP reported that Copeland, of Colbert, Okla., moved to Iraq within the last month to take a job on an aviation project with DynCorp International under a State Department contract. His body was found in his bed on June 9, family members said. No foul play was suspected.  Copeland, a former Marine showed no obvious signs of trauma or illness but under Iraqi laws, as in other countries, local authorities must issue a death certificate before releasing a body to survivors outside the country, according to the AP.

It turns out that our largest and most expensive embassy in the world does not have a medical examiner on staff to do autopsies.

That said, must also point out that the US Embassy Barbados does not have a medical examiner on staff either but was able to convinced the host country to released the body of George Gaines shortly after his demise for an autopsy back in the United States.

Imagine if the US Embassy in Baghdad is a “normal” embassy, it would have taken months to get the body of Mr. Copeland released!  Thankfully, we have a large, effective mission at the forefront of our people to people diplomacy in the Middle East, it only took two weeks to secure a dead body.

Domani Spero