With Defense Department officials forever trying to convince Americans that the military’s role in Iraq will be coming to an end “on schedule” at the end of 2011, the US State Department is hastily assembling its own army of contractors to continue the war past the end of the Status of Forces Agreement deadline.
State Department officials were already floating the idea of creating a “combat force” of their own for the purposes of continuing the war past 2011, but now they are talking of fielding their own army as part of the “transition.”
Some seven years after the initial invasion, US dominance of Iraqi affairs remains enormous, and the State Department plans to continue this dominance seem predicated on keeping an army on the ground. And if that army isn’t the US Army, one will simply be created out of wholecloth.
Incoming US Ambassador to Iraq Jim Jeffrey has suggested that America’s “diplomatic presence” across Iraq will need to be maintained for at least another 3-5 years after the US troops leave in 2011. In effect this plan would keep the war going past the “firm” 2011 deadline.
Beyond combat operations, the State Department also intends to take over police training operations in Iraq. The legality of having the State Department conducting what are in effect military operations is unclear, but such objections do not appear to have been seriously considered by the administration.