U.S. State Department plans to reduce staffing levels in Iraq by May
The U.S. State Department plans to dramatically downsize the number of American personnel in Iraq, according to a memo sent to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The document, dated December 6 and sent by Bureau of Legislative Affairs Assistant Secretary Mary Elizabeth Taylor to committee Chairman Jim Risch, an Idaho Republican, outlines plans to reduce staffing levels at U.S. Mission Iraq by 28% by the end of May 2020, CNN reported.
The reduction would mean 114 fewer people at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, 15 fewer people at the Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center and eight fewer people at Consulate General Erbil. In addition to the reduction in State Department personnel, the cuts would include Defense Department and U.S. Agency for International Development personnel.
The State Department assesses the reduction of personnel will allow Mission Iraq to still achieve its core objectives, and conduct adequate monitoring and oversight of programs. "These functions will continue to be performed by personnel in Iraq and, in some cases, by personnel located at other posts," the memo noted.
According to senior State Department official, the decision was driven by leadership at State collectively and added that they think people at U.S. Mission Iraq could be targeted. The official noted the Trump administration is seeking to reduce potential security concerns and increase military force with the deployment of more troops to the region.