Observers might think that the largest, most expensive embassy ever built — the $750 million, heavily fortified U.S. embassy in Baghdad — would be more than sufficient to sustain the diplomatic corps that will remain in Iraq after U.S. troops are withdrawn. In fact, however, that 1.5-square-mile walled complex is, according to the Huffington Post’s Dan Froomkin, “turning out to be too small for the swelling retinue of gunmen, gardeners and other workers the State Department considers necessary to provide security and ‘life support’ for the sizable group of diplomats, military advisers and other executive branch officials who will be taking shelter there once the troops withdraw from the country.”
The last remaining troops are scheduled to leave Iraq by December 31, though the Obama administration has been working hard to ensure that some residual force remains — anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 troops. But while the official military presence is declining, the number of embassy personnel is set to double to 16,000, about half of whom will be security forces. The State Department will have 5,000 security contractors comprising a private army under the command of the Secretary of State.
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Photo: James F. Jeffrey, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq