Monday, February 7, 2011

US Embassy Kabul: Anticipated Steady Staffing of 1,830 from 2011-2016, a Low Guesstimate

Snow Mountains of Kabul (Photo made by: Joe Bu...Image via WikipediaThe State Dept OIG report reviewing the performance of PA&E Government Services, a Lockheed Martin Company has the following snapshot of the US Embassy Kabul staffing and accompanying expansion for 2011 and the next 5 years:

"Embassy Kabul is scheduled to increase its staffing to 1,572 by the end of 2010, an increase of 778 percent from 179 staff members in 2005. Staffing is anticipated to grow another 16 percent in 2011 to 1,830 and then remain steady for the next 5 years. This increase includes personnel from a number of other U.S. Government agencies and a high volume of visitors. This “civilian uplift” has resulted in shortages of housing and office space. To remedy this situation, the embassy is expanding the east compound to include more single trailers, one 7-story and two 8-story apartment buildings, and additional non-permanent residences, and office space on a newly developed 7.5 acre area of the compound; converting single apartments to doubles; and building new facilities to increase office space on the west compound. This expansion will impact the capacity of the embassy’s physical infrastructure, resulting in an increased need for electricity and waste disposal."

In a US mission with one year assignments, that's 1,800 personnel give and take every year. So by 2016, a total of 10,800 employees can be expected to have rotated in and out of Kabul, Mazar, Herat and wherever else that might be. 

Which is mind boggling if you stop to consider that the entire United States Foreign Service has only about 11,500 professionals. Granted that some personnel at post are from other agencies, majority of them are actually coming from State, USAID and USDA.

Of course, with the military drawdown looming large in 2012 in Afghanistan, this number may not even be near any real number.

We learned recently that the US Embassy Baghdad is going from a staff of 8,000 to 17,000.  Presumably a large number of this would be security contractors, but they are still there to guard non-security personnel and USG facilities. Since US Embassy Kabul seems to be taking a page from US Embassy Baghdad, we can anticipate that staffing in Kabul at 1,800 is at best, a low guesstimate.

In any case, unemployment rate is still around 9% in the United States.  Perhaps we should brush up that resume and head off to Afghanistan, where employability prospects is looking more than great for the next 6, 12, oh, ___ (fill in the blank) years?  


Related item:
OIG Report No. MERO-I-11-05, PAE Operations and Maintenance Support at Embassy Kabul, Afghanistan | Dec. 2010

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