Safety burden shifts to State Department after Iraq war

Military urged to aid workers with logistics

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“What does seem certain, however, is that State must greatly expand its contracting to prepare for the U.S. military’s exit from Iraq,” the report said.

Mr. Irwin said State estimates that it will be forced to nearly triple the 2,700 security contractors in Iraq to fill in for the military.

In a swipe at the Obama administration, the report concluded, “There is not enough evidence of a thorough, timely, disciplined planning approach to the coming transition.”

Iraq has seen a sharp reduction in violence since 2007, when a surge of U.S. troops turned the tide of battle against al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), and against Sunni and Shiite insurgents. But, as the Pentagon’s latest assessment report spells out, al Qaeda will attack as often as possible with suicide bombers.

“Even though insurgent and militant activities in Iraq continue to decline, the environment remains dangerous,” the report says. “Several Sunni nationalist groups … remain in armed resistance and continue to conduct attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces. … AQI is currently focusing its rhetoric and its attacks against the [Iraqi government] and Shia in an effort to discredit the [Iraqi government] and incite sectarian violence as U.S. forces draw down.”

Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said Wednesday that the ongoing political squabbles in Baghdad over a new government will not affect plans for troops to leave by the end of 2011.

Said Mr. Green: “Here you’ve got a non-benign environment and when the military pulls out we don’t know what the threat is going to look like.”

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