Snapshot: US Mission Iraq Staffing as of July 2012

The following numbers and info from the July 30 SIGIR report:

As of early July, according to DoS, 15,007 personnel were supporting the U.S. Mission in Iraq:

  •  1,235 U.S. government civilian employees (includes full-time and temporary government employees and personal-services contractors)
  •  13,772 contractor personnel (U.S., Iraqi, and third-country nationals), 5,737 of whom were providing security services

In a change from its past reporting practice, DoS said that it obtained this quarter’s data on the number and role of contractors from the Synchronized Predeployment and Operational Tracker (SPOT) database maintained by DoD. SIGIR also obtained data from the SPOT database that showed 12,477 employees of U.S.-funded contractors and grantees were working in Iraq as of July 2, 2012—1,295 fewer contractor personnel than reported by the Embassy. The data may have been accessed on different dates, but SIGIR does not know if that would completely account for the difference in reported number of contractor personnel.

Reconstruction Staff Down to 6, But Wait —

According to DoS, only 6 personnel—the number of staff in the Iraq Strategic Partnership Office—support “reconstruction activities.” DoS estimated that 67 contractors also support reconstruction programs. However, in its tally of reconstruction personnel, DoS excludes the entire staff of the Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq (OSC-I), which manages Iraq Security Forces Fund (ISFF) projects and the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and Foreign Military Financing (FMF) programs; DoS Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) personnel working on the Police Development Program (PDP); and personnel working on U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) programs.96 DoS contends that it excludes these individuals because they work on “traditional assistance programs (assistance programs that are found in embassies worldwide).” However, SIGIR takes the position that Economic Support Fund (ESF) and FMS, for example, are reconstruction programs in Iraq—a position supported in a March 31, 2011, letter by the Chairmen of the House Committees on Oversight and Government Reform and Foreign Affairs to the Secretary of State.

Less Expensive Staffing/Life-Support Options

DoS is working to reduce direct-hire staffing by 25%–30% by the end of 2013. Moreover, the Embassy is continuing to hire more Iraqis to fill direct-hire positions, reporting that 240 of the planned 400 were on board, as of June 28.

With regard to life-support contractors, DoS’s goal is for 50% of all life-support contractors to be Iraqis. As of late June, Iraqis made up about 24% of life-support contractors.

US Consulate Kirkuk Closes Today, Maybe

The U.S. Consulate in Kirkuk—which has been operational, though not providing most traditional consular services, for about one year—has been scheduled to close by the end of July 2012. The consulate, which had been colocated with the OSC-I site on the grounds of an Iraqi Air Force base, will transfer most of its personnel to the Erbil Diplomatic Support Center (EDSC). To accommodate this move, the EDSC is preparing additional containerized housing-units that will serve as living quarters and office space for those personnel relocated from Kirkuk. About 30 private-security  contractors will move from Kirkuk to Erbil as part of this plan. U.S. facilities in Kirkuk had been subject to regular indirect fire attacks since they opened. OSC-I will close its Kirkuk site by the end of September.

That’s a “maybe” because nowhere in US Mission Baghdad’s website or social media digs is there an announcement or an indication that the consulate in Kirkuk is about to close.  In fact, the embassy’s lengthy job vacancy list, still has the following:

Jobs/Vacancies in Consulate General Kirkuk:
Political Assistant, FSN-8; FP-6* (PDF 93kb) Closing Date: Open until filled

An FSN-8 at $40,102 USD per year. Not bad for a local rate in a country where the average annual income is $3,500.  But Iraqis may still not want their neighbors to know where they work. The job was originally published in February and republished in May.

Domani Spero

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Photo of the Day: Ambassador Kim Shows His Fashion Sense at “2012 World of Calvin Klein”

Via US Embassy Seoul/FB:  “Ambassador shows his fashion sense at “2012 World of Calvin Klein” fashion show at the Seoul Station rooftop!”

That’s Ambassador Sung Kim, our ambassador to the Republic of Korea. Prior to his appointment to the US Embassy in Seoul, you will remember him as the Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks.  Before that, he headed the Office of Korean Affairs at the Department of State from August 2006 to July 2008.  Ambassador Kim also served in a variety of positions in the East Asia Pacific region including overseas assignments in Seoul, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong.

Photo via US Embassy Seoul/FB

In early July, we blogged about Ambassador Kenney at the BIFF (see Ambassador Kristie Kenney on the Runway at Bangkok International Fashion Fair). Not sure if Ambassador Kim actually walked the runway in Seoul in late May (no blog post about the event) or if he just popped in to show the flag. But if he did, that probably makes him the first chief of mission on the catwalk.

The show, by the way, was put together by Calvin Klein Inc., a fashion house founded by American fashion designer Calvin KleinAccording the WWD, the private event took place in a purpose-built structure on top of the landmark Seoul Station, and featured three interactive video installations by Rafaël Rozendaal, Scott Snibbe and the Flightphase collective. The night’s highlight, however, was a specially curated program of videos displayed on the Seoul Square Media Canvas, the world’s largest LED screen at 23 stories tall.

Domani Spero