Thursday, May 01, 2008

Well That's Another Way to Put It

Foreign Policy Passport discusses an issue I mentioned a few days ago, the fact that we will still have folks living in trailers at AmEmbassy Baghdad.

New Baghdad embassy will be part trailer park

Two weeks ago, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker announced that diplomats and staff could finally move into the massive, new U.S. embassy as early as May. But thanks to a gross underestimation of housing needs, some embassy staff will be forced to remain in their trailers until more rooftop-protected housing can be secured inside the compound.

Apparently this snafu resulted from housing figures, calculated in 2005, that failed to predict the more than doubling in embassy staff that occured between the start and end of the embassy's construction.

To make matters worse, a portion of the staff that will remain in the trailers, currently parked behind Saddam Hussein's former palace (turned U.S. command center) will not be provided with rooftop reinforcement. They will receive some "enhanced protection," though (read: sandbags).

Without rooftop coverage, the Green Zone's looking like an awfully rough place to be these days.

Diplopundit commented on the news too, and included a link to a Newsweek article on it: You can read her entire post here.

Iraq's Unsafe Haven

Yesterday in a Newsweek web exclusive, Lennox Samuels has a piece about Baghdad 's Green Zone as the latest battleground in the struggle for Iraq and writes in part:"More than 1,000 State Department and military staffers work in the American Embassy...Most live in trailers on the palace grounds, and many of them began sleeping in the embassy when the bombardments began and have yet to return to their trailer beds. "There have been cots all over the embassy and people sleeping in stairwells and hallways," says a State Department analyst who would not be named discussing embassy matters. Many are afraid to sleep in their cramped metal containers, which are considered flimsy and inadequately protected. The trailers sit next to each other in rows of two, three or more. A rocket destroyed a row of trailers and people were "just freaked out," says the embassy staffer. "If somebody had given me a gun and told me 'five guys are coming to kill you,' that would have been preferable to going to sleep in this tin can not knowing if you're going to wake up," adds the embassy analyst.


Meanwhile, diplomats are taking no chances. As the attacks continued into Monday afternoon, with a projectile apparently landing near the U.S. Embassy grounds, staffers there were issued a memo discouraging them from driving around the Zone and recommending that they keep "Personal Protective Equipment" readily available in living quarters. "Personnel should minimize time outside as much as possible," the memo said. "… It is recommended you spend as much time as possible in hardened facilities with overhead cover. It is also recommended that you sleep in hardened facilities with overhead cover … If you decide to sleep in your trailer, please remember that your ability to quickly react could save your life." Click here to read the entire article.

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