Uncle Sam drafts diplomats for embassy in Iraq
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The State Department said Friday it will require some diplomats to serve in Iraq because of a lack of volunteers willing to work at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
Beginning Monday, 200 to 300 diplomats will be notified they have been identified as prime candidates to fill 40 to 50 vacancies that will open next year at the embassy, said Harry Thomas, director general of the Foreign Service.
Those notified they have been selected for a one-year posting will have 10 days to respond. Only those with compelling reasons, such as a medical condition, will be excused from duty, Thomas said.
He said those being sent to Iraq will receive extra pay and vacation time. About 50 diplomats will be needed in Iraq by January, in addition to the current level of 200.
However, those refusing Iraq duty may face disciplinary action up to and including dismissal for failing to uphold their oath to serve the United.
I guess at least some of them must remember this.
More from Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post
The State Department will order as many as 50 U.S. diplomats to take posts in Iraq next year because of expected shortfalls in filling openings there, the first such large-scale forced assignment since the Vietnam War.
On Monday, 200 to 300 employees will be notified of their selection as "prime candidates" for 50 open positions in Iraq, said Harry K. Thomas, director general of the Foreign Service. Some are expected to respond by volunteering, he said. However, if an insufficient number volunteers by Nov. 12, a department panel will determine which ones will be ordered to report to the Baghdad embassy next summer.
Although a few skilled individuals were ordered to "hard-to-fill" diplomatic posts in past decades, there have been no mass "directed assignments" in the Foreign Service since 1969, when an entire class of 15 to 20 entry-level officers was sent to Vietnam, Thomas said.
Those who receive the selection letters will have 10 days to file a written notice of objection. The review panel will consider the objections, but Thomas made clear that a serious, documented medical condition is likely to be the only valid excuse. The department has the authority to fire anyone who refuses to accept an assignment.