The State Department and other civilian agencies have been working for the last year and a half getting ready for August 31st. That’s the day the U.S. will have 50,000 troops in Iraq and the combat mission officially ends.
Michael Corbin, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs for Iraq Issues, told Federal News Radio the military draw down doesn’t mean the troops will be replaced by more federal employees.
The military has provided security and logistic support for us, and (now) our contractor presence is going to increase and we’re also going to have a police development program that will be all run by the State Department, so that will take over from the military program. So we’ll have an increase in our contractor population, and we’ll do things differently and we’ll be in different type places around the country. We won’t be everywhere as the military was but we are going to continue our presence and continue to work with the Iraqis so that we can have a successful transition, and so the military forces can continue to leave and get down to zero at the end of 2011.
That’s not to say that security isn’t needed. Corbin said terrorists have tried to make their mark “…but we’ve had enormous success in partnership against the terrorists and we think that, although you’ll see during this period – and it is Ramadan, the holy month of Ramadan where terrorist attacks spike – you’ll see the Iraqi security forces being able to deal with this because they are much more capable than they were before.”
Corbin estimates there are about 1,000 State Department employees in Iraq working to partner with the country on education, health, agriculture, and the economy.
While not quite there yet, Corbin said he sees an Iraq being built “where politics is determining the future, not violence.”
For more about the changes needed to transition from Operation Iraqi Freedom to Operation New Dawn, click here. And to hear the entire interview with Michael Corbin, click on the audio player at the top of the page.
Tom Temin is the host of The Federal Drive, which airs from 6-8 a.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, D.C. region and online everywhere. Tom has 30 years experience in journalism, mostly in technology markets. Before coming to Federal News Radio, he was a long-serving editor-in-chief of Government Computer News and Washington Technology magazines.