'Rightsizing' the US Mission Iraq

And as I’ve pointed out at the beginning is, we’re fully and completely engaged on the political deployment. And with that – knock on wood – we’re doing this, with the first and foremost, the security of our people. It’s certainly still a complicated situation there, but to the credit of our security and our diplomats and our locally engaged employees – knock on wood – we’re doing a better than fine job at accomplishing the goals that we set out.

That said, when we put this mission set up, it was very clear to us that we were going to make sure that over time – and what I mean by over time meaning over this year – we begin to try to right size the Embassy to look at – like so – there’s never such a thing as a normal embassy, but a more normalized embassy presence. And principally, our goal has been to shift our reliance on contractors to basically hiring local Iraqis. This is what the Iraqis want, and quite frankly, that’s what we want because it’s cheaper, it’s more important to be part of the community. And so first and foremost, our goal has always been to, over this year, is to shift more and more of our purchasing, and quite frankly, just our whole operations more to local – locally hired individuals. So that is our first priority, with the understanding that our main priority is making sure our people are secure.

So number one, we’re going to be looking at how we can do that over the next year. We’ll continue to look at our footprint, which is something we’ll always do. And we’re meeting with folks on a daily basis, along with my colleague Pat Kennedy and his team, to make sure that our footprint is appropriate for the period of time as we proceed. We’ll be looking at the – as we look at the programs that we’re offering, most of the programs that we’re offering will continue to be offered. But we’ll continue to look at how we can hire like we do in many countries around the world, that we hire Iraqis to help us with the programs that we’re executing. So I am – we’re doing exactly what we said we were going to do when we set up this mission set, which is we’re going to constantly continue to look to ways to shift more of the cost structure to

locally, which is going to be, obviously, substantially cheaper for us, but most importantly, to continue evaluating it as this mission set is accomplished and is being accomplished.

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