'Rightsizing' the US Mission Iraq

But that said, I – we have been totally upfront and straight about this, that over time we want to have a more normalized embassy, and that will mean making a decision over time about contractors, the numbers of contractors, the size of some of our mission sets, without losing sight of our core mission, which is, number one, political engagement, economic development, kind of the – and then this – and then the OSC-I piece of this, which is very, very important as they purchase U.S. equipment.

So I – again, I’m – one thing about what we have said and certainly what I’ve said and I think our team has said is we were very clear with everyone what we were planning to do and how we will execute this over. And this is not going to happen overnight. I mean, we’re not going to have – tomorrow, we’re not going to be able to sit here and say okay, X numbers of – hundreds of thousands of people have departed. We’re going to be doing this over a period of time as we think about how this mission set should look like, and quite frankly, as we procure more goods and as we operate more.

Now, on your second question, I – we’ve had an unbelievable cooperation from the Iraqis, okay? Listen, is it always perfect? No. I’m sure it’s not always perfect. It’s not always perfect. And I’m sure they don’t think we’re always perfect. But the reality is, is they’ve given us the visas that we’ve needed. It hasn’t been always smooth, but we’ve been given the visas. We’ve set up an operation in Iraq which allows our diplomats to be safe, allows us to do political engagement, it allows us to have an OSC-I site that are training people on military equipment which they’re purchasing from us.

So I’d have to say, as cynical as all of us are – and I think most of us are pretty cynical – pretty darn good, I mean, if you ask us come January 30 – January or February 6th where we are today. So I think you all would be questioning us if you weren’t asking us a question, “Well, what are you guys going to do over the long term? What is your long-term view of how big your footprint should be? How much should you be relying up on local contractors?” So we’re asking the tough questions. We’re going to continue asking the tough questions. And we’re going to, over time, allow ourselves to have this Embassy look like – more like a normal embassy, but it will take time without compromising our core missions.

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