I need to digest this information more completely, but right now my only reaction is horror. The implications of this are terrifying.
State Dept. planning to field a small army in Iraq
In little more than a year, State Department contractors in Iraq could be driving armored vehicles, flying aircraft, operating surveillance systems, even retrieving casualties if there are violent incidents and disposing of unexploded ordnance.
Under the terms of a 2008 status of forces agreement, all U.S. troops must be out of Iraq by the end of 2011, but they’ll leave behind a sizable American civilian presence, including the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, the largest in the world, and five consulate-like “Enduring Presence Posts” in the Iraqi hinterlands.
Iraq remains a battle zone, and the American diplomats and other civilian government employees will need security. The U.S. military will be gone. Iraq’s army and police, despite billions of dollars and years of American training, aren’t yet capable of doing the job.
The arrangement is “one more step in the blurring of the lines between military activities and State Department or diplomatic activities,” said Richard Fontaine of the Center for a New American Security, a Washington research center. “This is no longer (just) the foreign service officer standing in the canape line, and the military out in the field.”