Contractors in post-occupation Iraq

A handful of U.S. military personnel will remain in the country, working with the embassy to help with arms sales and training for Iraqi forces. Talks could resume next year on whether more U.S. troops can return for future training missions.

In the meantime, U.S. officials say there will be roughly 16,000 people involved in the American diplomatic effort in Iraq.

About 2,000 will be diplomats and federal workers. The remaining 14,000 will be contractors – roughly half involved with security while the rest will be doing everything from keeping the kitchens running to managing the motor pool.

The operation will focus on the fortress-like U.S. Embassy in Baghdad — the largest and most expensive U.S. diplomatic mission in the world — as well as at consulates in Basra, Erbil and Kirkuk, each of them “hardened” to resist militant attack.

The U.S. mission in Iraq has already been scaled back. Officials originally envisioned opening more consulates and expanding other operations under a plan the Senate Foreign Relations Committee estimated could end up costing as much as $30 billion over five years.

Kennedy said the core diplomatic staff would be about as large as for other major U.S. embassies around the world.

That core operation is budgeted for about $3.8 billion next year, with total U.S. outlay in Iraq including aid programs and military assistance, coming it at about $6.2 billion. That sounds like spare change when compared to the some $750 billion the United States has spent on the war, but it is still equivalent to more than a quarter of the State Department’s global operational budget.

Reuters

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