Wow, that is a pretty substantial cut in personnel. Although from the sounds of it, there will still be a significant security force to support the fewer than 1,000 diplomats that remain. Which makes sense, because the embassy is still a large area to cover down on, regardless of how many folks are in it.
If anything, the reduction in security folks would be WPS personnel who would normally provide PSD teams to go out into the countryside. But even that might not see too much of a reduction just because the diplomats that are left, still have to go outside the wire. I also wonder how many missions they were really doing ever since the troops pulled out and the threats not going away in Iraq? If anyone with an inside track on this would like to comment, feel free to do so below.
I also think it is telling that we have had this massive presence at the embassy in Iraq, and the return on investment has been so poor. Meaning recently, Secretary of State John Kerry visited Iraq and got into it with Iraq about their policy of supporting the Assad regime with cargo/weapons flights coming out of Iraq into Syria. Obviously this is a source of contention, and Iraq could care less what the west wants them to do. So much for having a thousands of diplomats and a $750 million dollar embassy? lol –Matt
Massive American Embassy in Baghdad cutting staff sharply decade after war in Iraq began
March 20, 2013
A decade after the start of the war in Iraq, the American diplomatic footprint here is shrinking fast.
As recently as a year ago, the immense U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and other sites around the country were staffed by more than 16,000 personnel. Today, that number has fallen to about 10,500, U.S. Ambassador Robert Stephen Beecroft said this week.
By the end of the year, Beecroft said he expects to have just 5,500 employees in Iraq. Most of them will be security personnel and other outside contractors assigned to support the fewer than 1,000 diplomats who remain. More cuts are expected beyond the end of the year.
“That number will continue to go down. . And they’ll go down largely on the contracting side,” Beecroft said in his residence on the heavily guarded compound on the banks of the Tigris River.
The sprawling, fortress-like U.S. Embassy officially opened in early 2009 at a cost of more than $730 million as the largest American mission in the world. But it has been under pressure to cut costs.
The downsizing in many ways reflects how sharply wartime assumptions about the extent of American influence in Iraq have shifted since construction on the Vatican City-sized compound began in 2005. Sweeping reconstruction and nation-building efforts championed early on are much less of a priority today, even as Iraq’s Shiite-led government forges stronger ties with neighboring Shiite powerhouse and U.S. foe Iran.
America still has influence here, with Iraq-based diplomats and officials in Washington in frequent contact with Iraqi political and military leaders. But Washington was unable to win Iraqi guarantees that would have allowed a continued military presence — something that deprived the U.S. of important leverage in Baghdad, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently told a government watchdog.