“The idea behind linked assignments is that a volunteer for Iraq service will be able to be paneled to an onward assignment at the same time he or she is paneled to Baghdad,” according to the message, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times.
In coming weeks, officers will be able to bid on Baghdad positions becoming available next summer.
Because they are required to spend at least a year in Iraq to be eligible for the new benefit, they will begin their “linked” assignments in the summer of 2009 at the earliest, depending on their need for language training.
He noted that those officers would still get one of their top five choices for an onward assignment.
But because of the difficult conditions there and because most positions last only a year, the department has been hard-pressed to fill all slots on time.
It even changed its entire bidding and assignment system last year, not opening positions elsewhere in the world until most openings in Iraq are filled.
Asked why the agency resorted to yet another incentive, the official said, “People work really hard and deserve incentives.”
Mr. Staples said the new program cannot be expanded to the entire service at this time because it “would be too difficult, if not mathematically impossible, to fairly implement, given the number of positions and 12-month tour of duty in Iraq.”
There are 22 Baghdad positions eligible for the new policy beginning next year.