The United States is expected to send up to 16,000 civilian personnel, some 80 percent of whom are contractors, to Iraq as the State Department steps up its efforts to take over U.S. engagement in the country from the military and U.S Department of Defense.
The civilian surge would include up to 5,000 security personnel for the protection of U.S. diplomats, Treasury employees, aid workers and other U.S. personnel stationed and will be stationed in Iraq for what experts described as the biggest State Department operation since the Marshall Plan it spearheaded in Europe in the aftermath of World War II, the Washington Post says.
The department is also expected to tap 4,600 non-U.S. contractors to provide medical assistance, cooking and cleaning services, and some 4,600 people who will be stationed in 10 or 11 U.S.-managed training sites. The State Department is also expected to operate its own hospital and air service, according to the Washington Post.
But as the State ramps up its preparations, some lawmakers and observers have criticized the department’s capability to effectively oversee the whole operation, the news agency says.
“We’re very, very worried,” said Christopher Shays, a former lawmaker who served on the U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting. “I don’t know how they’re [State Department] going to do it.”
State Department officials have recognized they are faced with a hard task but maintained they are well-prepared and have included anti-fraud measures in their plans.
“We’ve spent too much money and lost too many kids’ lives not to do this thing right,” said Thomas Nides, deputy secretary of state for management and resources, according to the Washington Post.
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