The State Department will confront numerous obstacles this year as
it prepares to take lead in Iraq when US military forces withdraw by the end of 2011, a special report issued by a bipartisan war commission said.
Officials with the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and
Afghanistan released the report and testified before Congress Wednesday. The officials warned members of the Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense, and Foreign Operations that the State Department lacks the funding and personnel needed to meet the challenges in Iraq.
The report, titled "Iraq-the forgotten mission,” was compiled by the
commission's research team and two commissioner-led trips to Iraq, in
spring and winter 2010.
"It is vital in view of the federal deficit that every department take reasonable steps toward economy and efficiency, and that includes the Department of State," said Christopher Shays, co-chair of the wartime commission. "Reasonable people can disagree on budget details, but
it is clear that State is going to need more funding to replace many
services now provided by the military, and to bolster its ability to
manage and oversee the contractors who will be replacing the military."
The State Department is preparing to set up two permanent and two
temporary remote stations before the end of the year to supplement the US Embassy in Baghdad.
Problems regarding security, facilities management, air transport, and
other tasks still weigh heavy on making any transition work and will require thousands of contractor employees, commission members said.
"Very little time remains for State to develop requirements, conduct
negotiations, and award competitive contracts for work that must begin at once. Inadequate support risks waste of funds and failure for U.S. policy objectives in Iraq and the region," the commission found.