'Rightsizing' the US Mission Iraq

The following is a transcript of a briefing by Thomas Nides (pictured), Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources at the US State Department, on Wednesday 8th February, regarding the reduction of personnel at the Iraqi embassy in Baghdad:

MS. NULAND: Thank you, Operator, and thanks to all of you for joining us. We are pleased today to have with us Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides to talk on the record about a review that he is conducting for the Secretary on rightsizing the U.S. mission in Iraq.

Let me, without further ado, turn it over to the Deputy, and then we’ll take about three or four questions. Unfortunately, his time is a little compressed. Go ahead, Mr. Deputy Secretary.

DEPUTY SECRETARY NIDES: Hi. Thank you all very much. I just wanted to touch on a couple of facts as it regards to Iraq and what we’re planning to do and what we planned to do when we started the mission. As you know, we had the largest transition since the Marshall Plan taking place as of January 1st, and I think many folks thought that it was a difficult mission set and we – I think arguably – could suggest we’ve had a very successful mission.

We – the military is now gone. We have a robust diplomatic presence. We have a diplomatic presence both in up north and down south and in Baghdad. We have been fully and completely engaged on the – all of the political aspects, which you all have been covering quite clearly. And Jim Jeffrey, in particular, I want to give enormous credit to of being fully engaged at all levels of the Iraqi political situation. We have stood up a robust police-training program, which is doing a terrific job working with the local police in training and developing a program, which I think will pay enormous dividends, too. We’re working on economic development, because as you know, they’re producing almost a million two barrels a day out of Basrah. And we’re working with the IO community to make sure that that, as well as all the other economic development all over the country – we have economic officers accomplishing that.

We have, the probably the most sophisticated OSC-I site, which we’re working with – or OSC-I sites – which we’re working with the military. As you know, the Iraqis have been purchasing tens of millions of dollars of equipment from us, and they will be continuing to do that. We’re training the Iraqis on that equipment, and that is U.S. equipment which they’re purchasing.

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