The State Department is planning to spend $115 million to upgrade the the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad only three and a half years after American diplomats moved into the massive $700 million facility, reports Walter Pincus of the Washington Post.The 104-acre compound — already its biggest and most expensive in the world — currently houses 1,350 U.S. government employees in the heart of Baghdad’s International Zone and will increase its capacity because the U.S. is consolidating overall diplomatic property in Baghdad down by one-third.
The most interesting upgrade is the construction of a data hall in an existing classified embassy annex building that will cost $20 to $35 million. It will require ”electrical/telecommunication system upgrades [and] extensive mechanical and plumbing systems,” according to a June 12 notice from the State Department.
The statement estimated cost ranges but the State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) noted that real project costs are not available.
At the same time the U.S. is in the process of scrapping the once-hailed Iraqi police training program in the face of “spiraling costs and Iraqi officials who say they never wanted it in the first place,” according to the New York Times.
The training effort — considered the largest component of a mission billed as the most ambitious American aid effort since the Marshall Plan — began in October and has already cost $500 million, including $343 million worth of construction projects around the country.
For example the U.S. spent about $100 million on the Police College facility — which includes a living quarters, dining facility, office building, new gymnasium and a helicopter landing site — that will be turned over to the Iraqis at year’s end because State didn’t get land rights use for more than one year.
The Obama administration original requested for $2.26 billion for the fiscal 2013 Iraq budget, but the Senate Appropriations Committee set it at $1.1 billion with the biggest cut being $850 million that was to pay for the Iraqi police training program.