State Department to Order diplomats to Iraq

Rick Moran
Finding it difficult to fill all the skilled positions necessary, the State Department will order some of their diplomats to Iraq if they can't fill them any other way:
On Monday, 200 to 300 employees will be notified of their selection as "prime candidates" for 50 open positions in Iraq, said Harry K. Thomas, director general of the Foreign Service. Some are expected to respond by volunteering, he said.

However, if an insufficient number volunteers by Nov. 12, a department panel will determine which ones will be ordered to report to the Baghdad embassy next summer.

"If people say they want to go to Iraq, we will take them," Thomas said in an interview. But "we have to move now, because we can't hold up the process." Those on the list were selected by factors including grade, specialty and language skill, as well as "people who have not had a recent hardship tour," he said.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice previewed a possible shortfall in June, when she ordered that positions in Iraq be filled before any other openings at the State Department headquarters in Washington or abroad are available. At the time, Rice said it was her "fervent hope" that sufficient numbers would continue to volunteer. Her order followed a request by Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker in Baghdad for an increase in the number and quality of economic and political officers.
The State Department hasn't ordered this many employees to a country since the Viet Nam war in 1969. It should be noted that not one single employee of the Department of State has been killed in Iraq. The diplomats have been protected in the past by Blackwater Services although it is not clear whether that arrangement will continue thanks to the controversies surrounding the private security company.
Finding it difficult to fill all the skilled positions necessary, the State Department will order some of their diplomats to Iraq if they can't fill them any other way:
On Monday, 200 to 300 employees will be notified of their selection as "prime candidates" for 50 open positions in Iraq, said Harry K. Thomas, director general of the Foreign Service. Some are expected to respond by volunteering, he said.

However, if an insufficient number volunteers by Nov. 12, a department panel will determine which ones will be ordered to report to the Baghdad embassy next summer.

"If people say they want to go to Iraq, we will take them," Thomas said in an interview. But "we have to move now, because we can't hold up the process." Those on the list were selected by factors including grade, specialty and language skill, as well as "people who have not had a recent hardship tour," he said.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice previewed a possible shortfall in June, when she ordered that positions in Iraq be filled before any other openings at the State Department headquarters in Washington or abroad are available. At the time, Rice said it was her "fervent hope" that sufficient numbers would continue to volunteer. Her order followed a request by Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker in Baghdad for an increase in the number and quality of economic and political officers.
The State Department hasn't ordered this many employees to a country since the Viet Nam war in 1969. It should be noted that not one single employee of the Department of State has been killed in Iraq. The diplomats have been protected in the past by Blackwater Services although it is not clear whether that arrangement will continue thanks to the controversies surrounding the private security company.