Federal Politics

Published — May 16, 2011 Updated — June 13, 2014 at 4:19 pm ET

State Department will inherit reconstruction duties in Iraq when troops leave

Introduction

The $61.45 billion reconstruction program in Iraq will undergo a wholesale transition when most U.S. troops depart at the end of the year. Many reconstruction projects currently under the responsibility of the military will be administered by the State Department once troops leave. The latest report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction reveals daunting transition tasks for State: closing reconstruction teams in provincial areas, opening diplomatic posts in volatile regions of Iraq, taking over the police force development and doubling civilian personnel from 8,000 to 17,000.

The increasing dependence on the State Department and contractors comes at a time when the IG has been critical of the Pentagon and State for being incapable of tracking where reconstruction dollars go currently.

These ambitious efforts coincide with a period of instability, in Iraq and across the Middle East. In recent months thousands of Iraqis have protested corruption and lack of services. In addition, the Iraqi Security Forces personnel have also been targeted more often than usual.

State intends to set up Embassy branch offices across the country, which usually have temporary mission spans of three to five years. The branch offices’ priority, according to State, is to mitigate Arab-Kurd, Sunni- Shia, and provincial tensions. These branches will face centuries-old conflicts and ambivalent attitudes towards the U.S. coupled with the challenges of short-mission length and low staffing levels.

An October 2010 report by the State inspector general noted that “it appears that provincial staffing is now being driven by budget constraints, rather than an appraisal of what is needed to accomplish the mission; certainly there is no indication that the missions have been redefined or reduced as funding and staffing projections shrink.”

The Office of Provincial Affairs manages provincial reconstruction teams at the Baghdad Embassy. These teams have worked to build provincial governments, mitigate conflicts and help local populations start reconstruction projects. The closures of the 14 sites will greatly reduce U.S. presence in rural regions.

With the closing of the OPA at the Embassy, it must transfer 117 tasks to other sections of the Embassy to different offices. So far, only 13 tasks have been transferred. The Baghdad Embassy could not provide details on what tasks remain to be transferred and noted that the tasks other Embassy sections will assume from the OPA is only an estimation.

State already oversees contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars, but will take on additional contract oversight once the military leaves. “It will be critical for Department of State to have in place effective management and controls to ensure that U.S. funds are effectively and efficiently spent,” the inspector general said.

State, DOD and USAID have come under Congressional criticism for being unable to determine an exact number of contractors employed in Iraq. In the past two quarters, U.S. Embassy-Baghdad has reported to SIGIR that it does not keep data on what activities its contractors provide in Iraq and could not provide a projection of contractor requirements for the upcoming year.

Contracting out security has introduced especially high risks that may worsen when U.S. troops leave, since they currently provide security and oversee security contracts. There is some disagreement within State regarding what government activities should not be contracted out, such as hostage rescue and improvised explosive device (IED) clearance.

The Congressional Research Service noted that many high-profile contractor abuses in Iraq were committed by private security contractors working for State, not the Pentagon. This includes the alleged shooting of Iraqi civilians by Triple Canopy personnel and the shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians in Nisoor Square by Blackwater personnel. The Baghdad Embassy plans on hiring 200 security officers to oversee private security contractors, at a ratio of 1:35.

On top of mounting responsibility, U.S. Embassy-Baghdad faces serious resource constraints. The most recent budget bill passed by Congress slashed State’s budget by $8 billion.

In a letter to the House Appropriations Committee, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted that the cuts to State’s budget request “occur at exactly the most sensitive juncture as we transition from [a] military-lead to civilian-run programs and operations.”

FAST FACT: The U.S. has spent an average of $17 million per day over the past eight years on the Iraq reconstruction effort.

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SOUTH JERSEYTed SiroisMark SullivanTom LarkinAnonymous Recent comment authors
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Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Trump needs to conduct these activities because the entire MSM media, excluding Fox, is campaigning against him 24/7/365.

Didn’t Monica’s boyfriend’s wife and various criminal enterprises outspend Trump by almost 2-1?

CapitalistRoader
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CapitalistRoader

Why wouldn’t he get an early start on fund raising? Hillary outspent him two-to-one in 2016. The Dem’s are the party of big money. The President knows this and is attempting to get a jump on it. Of course the Dem candidate will outspend him in 2020 so it’s only rational that he starts fund raising now.

George Young
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George Young

Oh brother. We just 8 years of the Campaigner – in – Chief. Where was this journalistic rectal thermometer then. Just another article about 2000 words too long that merely takes another slap at Trump for something he far from initiated.

j stevenson
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j stevenson

The big difference between Trump and all the rest is his refusing to accept funds from lobbyists, so they don’t have the White House access they are used to. These are the donors who buy the presidency and are as pixxed off that he won the election as are the media and the Dems. Lobbyists have never been shut out of the WH and Trump has told them he is not for sale.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Trump needs to be impeached and tossed in prison. Then have the key thrown away so he will never be free. Then he can see how it feels not to have freedom.

Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Thank you for the usual insightful leftist low IQ Snowflake response.

barney
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hes not imprisoning them hes sending them back to their country chill tf out

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

WHY DONT YOU HAVE FREEDOM?

Tom Larkin
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Tom Larkin

First, something positive. I was happy to learn of empirical information in article. BUT, the article was so slanted against President Trump as to be deemed fake news (“Perhaps Trump just lied.” (Two different issues)). The article mentions that President Trump raised over $67 million, but ended 2018 with $19 million. President Trump spent over $40 million 2016 and 2017. President Trump conducted 57 political rallies. The article notes the hats and T-shirts sold, but NEVER MENTIONS THE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS during a mid-term election that lost the House and the number of political rallies in… Read more »

Ted Sirois
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Ted Sirois

At least Trump is getting donations from willing donors. Fresh from his first election, Obama used billions of our children’s tax dollars to save thousands of union jobs in the car industry and bailed out the banks and many Wall Street businesses. This secured his source of reelection funds for his reelection four years later.

South Jersey
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South Jersey

TRUMP 2020; IS AN AMAZINGLY SMART MAN! VERY ORIGINAL & CREATIVE. I AM HAPPY TO HAVE HIS AS POTUS.

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

THIS ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY, A TRUMP-HATE-GROUP. THAT FEELS; IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR OWN BRAND NAME. WHEN, IF FACT, IT IS NORMAL! >>>>> THIS IS >>> FAKE NEWS!!! <<<< ie: A PACK-OF-LIES; SPUN INTO; DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. FOR A SINISTER-AGENDA OF; FASCIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, COUP D'ETAT

David
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David

Are you on some kind of drugs? Writing in caps makes me think that you are grumpy old fart or a uneducated hillbilly.