(AFP) – Apr 28, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFP) — The State Department is short of staff to meet the Pentagon's need to reinforce the provincial reconstruction teams (PRT) in Iraq and Afghanistan, a senior US official said Monday.
To press his point, Eliot Cohen, counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, noted that the Defense Department employs more musicians than the State Department has diplomats.
According to government data, the State Department employs 12,000 people, 5,500 of whom are diplomats deployed in Washington and abroad.
"When I tell the 5,500 figure, the generals are usually shocked," Cohen told reporters after commenting that at the Defense Department "the appetite is unlimited" for diplomats to join the understaffed PRTs.
The Pentagon's workforce includes 1.3 million men and women on active duty, 1.1 million reservists in the National Guard and 669,000 civilian employees. Military bands alone count for 7,500 people.
A report earlier this month by the US House of Representatives' Armed Services Committee found that PRTs are often unevenly staffed and led, and lack strategic guidance or oversight.
Rice has requested a budget supplement from Congress to provide for 1,200 additional PRT staff and a new civilian force to help the US military in post-war stabilization efforts.
The civilian-military PRTs were first established in Afghanistan in 2002 as a means of winning hearts and minds through political and economic work. They work alongside or are embedded with US military units.
The United States currently operates 12 military-led provincial reconstruction teams in Afghanistan, each consisting of 50 to 100 people. In Iraq, there are 24 teams, 13 of them embedded in military units.
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