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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Obama Administration Orders Downsizing Of US Mega-Embassy In Baghdad

Report: Big cuts needed at huge Baghdad embassy that Bush built
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Embassy in Iraq, the government's largest overseas mission, is significantly overstaffed and needs to be downsized to reflect the reduced American role in the country, according to a new State Department report.
"There is a clear consensus from the top to the bottom of the embassy: The time has come for a significant rightsizing," says the report Wednesday by the department's inspector general.
The report came as President Barack Obama was to meet in Washington with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki.
The meeting takes place against the background of a significantly changed U.S.-Iraqi relationship. American combat troops ceased operations in Iraqi cities on June 30, Maliki's government is being much more assertive and Obama has shifted the attention that his predecessor put on Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In addition to downsizing the embassy, the report also recommends ending the Provincial Reconstruction Teams by 2011, which have been the prime U.S. tool for rebuilding civilian life in Iraq's provinces.
"For some, it (the downsizing) is much overdue as they believe the 'civilian surge' went too far," the report says. "For others, it is a necessary result of the now-changed circumstances in Iraq and in our bilateral relationship."
The American Embassy in Baghdad became a symbol of the Bush administration's ambitions to remake Iraq. A huge new structure was built on the banks of the Tigris River, at a cost of more than $700 million, and hundreds of civilian experts from agencies across the U.S. government were deployed to help with reconstruction.
The 103-page inspector general's report gives high marks to embassy personnel for what it calls an "exemplary" relationship between American civilians and the U.S. military in Iraq. LinkHere


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