The State Department plans to dramatically downsize the number of American personnel in Iraq, according to a memo sent to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and obtained by CNN.
The document, dated December 6 and sent by Bureau of Legislative Affairs Assistant Secretary Mary Elizabeth Taylor to committee Chairman Jim Risch, an Idaho Republican, outlines plans to reduce staffing levels at US Mission Iraq by 28% by the end of May 2020.
A senior State Department official told CNN that the decision was driven by leadership at State collectively and added that they think people at US Mission Iraq could be targeted. The official said they are already more cautious about deploying US officials into the field. The official said the Trump administration is seeking to reduce potential security concerns and increase military force with the deployment of more troops to the region.
FP has the following:
The U.S. Mission in Iraq will reduce the number of staff at its embassy, diplomatic support center, and consulate in Erbil in Northern Iraq from 486 to 349, a 28 percent decrease, by the end of May 2020. The majority of the staff leave will come from the State Department, but other government agencies, including the Defense Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), will also cut the size of their staff at the embassy, as the document shows.
Foreign Policy posted the Iraq drawdown document sent to SFRC Chair Jim Risch here. The number in the notification includes direct hire personnel, personal services contractors, and third country nationals. What it does not include is life support staff.
Back in 2010, we posted US Embassy Baghdad: The “civilianization” of the U.S. presence in Iraq and its peskiest details. At that time, State/OIG notes:
The number of security and life support personnel required to maintain this limited substantive staff is huge: 82 management, 2,008 security, 157 aviation, and 1,085 life support personnel. In other words, depending on the definition of support staff, it takes a minimum of 15 and possibly up to 60 security and life support staff to support one substantive direct-hire position. To put this into perspective, a quick calculation of similar support ratios at three major embassies (Beijing, Cairo, and New Delhi) shows an average of four substantive officers to every three support staff (4:3) in contrast to 1:15 to 1:60 in Iraq.
So if the staff reduction is approximately 135, what does that mean in reduction of life support staffing level? CNN reports that the staff reductions was “driven by leadership at State collectively …. they think people at US Mission Iraq could be targeted”. See OSAC – 2019 Crime and Safety Report – Iraq – Baghdad.pdf
- Sources: Major Personnel Cuts Coming For U.S. Mission Iraq Feb 2019
- U.S. Consulate General #Basrah, Iraq: Six-Year Old Diplomatic Outpost Faces Closure June 2017
- U.S. Embassy Iraq: By The Numbers — Still The Post With the Mostest June 2014
- US Mission Iraq: Now on Partial “Temporary Relocation” To Basra, Erbil & Amman (Jordan) June 2014
- US Mission Iraq: Twelve Things You Might Not Know About the Largest Embassy in the World June 2013
- US Mission Iraq: Shrinking to 5,500 Personnel by End of Year, Never Mind the Missing Details Mar 2013
- US Mission Iraq: Get ready for BLISS… no, not perfect happiness — just Baghdad Life Support Services. 2012
- Snapshot: US Mission Iraq Staffing as of July 2012 July 2012
- Snapshot: US Mission Iraq Staffing – As of April 2012 May 2012
- US Embassy Iraq Staffing: To Slash or Not to Slash, That is the Question Feb 2012
- US Embassy Baghdad is shrinking…shrinking…shriiinkiiing – to 8,000! Feb 2012
- Afghanistan-Iraq-Pakistan Staffing Fills Up Fast But Pool of Volunteers Continues to Shrink; Longer Tours On the Table? Jul 2011
- US Embassy Iraq: From a staff of 8,000 to 17,000?). 2011
- US Mission Iraq: Not DOD’s Giganotosaurus Footprint, But a Super Embassaurus For Real 2011
- US Embassy Baghdad: The “civilianization” of the U.S. presence in Iraq and its peskiest details 2010
State lays out plans to reduce Iraq footprint by 28% by May 2020, as FP first reported. "It is a new normal. We are one rocket away, one attack away, from smoke in Iraq due to Iran and their proxies. This is a cautionary tale,” Sr State Official tells me. https://t.co/1Mr1smZgJp
— Kylie Atwood (@kylieatwood) December 18, 2019
Painful to watch US diplomatic, development and defense staff in Iraq reduced to meager levels. Critical country, critical times. What’s the logic? We will have more political officers in Embassy Rome than in Baghdad when this is over. https://t.co/sBACA0dumI
— Barbara A. Leaf (@SafiraLeaf) December 18, 2019
"Good news" for Iran inside Iraq has been around for a while. First time in diplomatic history that the phrases "skeleton crew" and "US Embassy Baghdad" are used in the same sentence. https://t.co/bNXzGK0tyW
— Alberto Miguel Fernandez (@AlbertoMiguelF5) December 17, 2019
Exclusive: The U.S. State Department is reducing its presence in Iraq by nearly 30 percent, documents show. Critics say that's bad news for Washington—and good news for Iran, FP's @RobbieGramer reports.https://t.co/M6mC1HAi6J
— Foreign Policy (@ForeignPolicy) December 17, 2019