The U.S. State Department plans to deploy 16,000 civilian employees in Iraq, the Washington Post reports.
And while the U.S. military is supposed to be out of Iraq by the end of the year, the two governments are trying to negotiate an agreement for a small training force to remain.
But those forces will be dwarfed by an estimated the civilian contingent under the American ambassador — the size of an Army division — all of whom will have to be housed, fed and guarded; requirements include three police training centers, a small airline and hospitals.
For the State Department, Iraq will be its largest overseas effort since the years immediately after World War II, when it was in charge of the Marshall Plan, providing economic assistance in Europe.
In testimony before Congress this week, Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides said the department has budgeted $6 billion for Iraq next year, considerably down on the $50 billion the military is currently spending.
Nides said the department is working hard to be ready in time, although some jobs, like housing construction, may stretch into next year.
"We've spent too much money and lost too many kids' lives, not to do this thing right," he said.
(Sources: Washington Post, UPI)