Washington, DC – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) today released a staff report raising questions about the ability of the United States to protect its thousands of diplomats and contractors in Iraq once U.S. troops complete their withdrawal at the end of 2011. The report, “Iraq: The Transition From A Military Mission To A Civilian-Led Effort,” lays out several steps that need to be considered in order to maintain security for the diplomatic mission in the coming years. A smooth military to civilian transition in Iraq is vital to the United States’ broader interest in the Middle East.
“This report sheds light on the important tradeoffs involved as we consider the sustainability of progress in Iraq,” said Chairman Kerry. “With so much uncertainty, we’ve got to make sure we strike the proper balance between the scope of the mission and the available resources. The model we create in Iraq will become a template in Afghanistan in the years to come.”
Members of the Committee’s majority staff went to Iraq to examine the military-to-civilian transition in detail and this report is the result of that trip. Their principle findings are : (1) it is unclear whether the State Department has the capacity to maintain and protect the currently planned diplomatic presence without a degree of U.S. military support; (2) uncertainty about the nature of U.S. military presence in Iraq after 2012 is complicating all other aspects of the transition and must be clarified; (3) the bureaucratic integration between the Departments of Defense and State remains incomplete, and the unity of effort in Baghdad has not been matched in Washington; and (4) a creative and sustainable funding mechanism is needed to pay for the diplomatic mission in Iraq.