Deputy Secretary Lew today announced that the U.S. government is actively recruiting an additional 89 positions for its mission in Afghanistan, both within the federal government and from outside experts.
“Our civilian experts who are deploying in Afghanistan are a critical component of the President’s strategy to defeat al-Qaida and deny it safe haven and return. Since March, following the President’s strategic review, our assistance strategy has really concentrated on the main goals of the Riedel report – improving Afghan governance, providing security, justice, jobs and services, and giving the Afghan people a meaningful alternative as much as possible to the Taliban’s recruiting.” -Mr. Lew
He underscored that promoting governance and economic development are essential civilian components to a coordinated civilian-military counterinsurgency plan. He said the key to U.S. strategy is to get the right people in the right place at the right time.
“And I’m really proud of the top-quality people that we are enlisting to move to Afghanistan, where they’re going to be living and working in very difficult conditions, often living beside their military colleagues. These are lawyers, agronomists, diplomats, development specialists, and others.” -Mr. Lew
He stated that the morale is very high in Afghanistan. He stated in January 2009, there were 320 civilians on the ground in Afghanistan. Today, they have 603.
“We also have 282 candidates who are currently in process. This goes from the early stages of the recruiting process all the way to the training and ready-for-deployment stage.” -Mr. Lew
He underscored that the recruiting process is really an individual person-by-person recruiting process. He said for each position, there’s a defined set of skills, and we’re recruiting individuals that have the skills for the job that they’re going to be asked to undertake. He pointed out there were criticisms of earlier civilian deployments where people were deployed without the skills that they needed.
“We’re on track to have almost all of the authorized 974 positions filled by the end of the year with a few flowing into the beginning of the year. I would like to just remind everyone that the schedule that was announced in March during the – at the time of the Riedel report was that all the civilians would be in place by March 2010. That deadline was accelerated to the end of this year, and we’re on track with the accelerated schedule.” -Mr. Lew