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State secretary: U.S. military band players more than diplomats deployed abroad
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12:40, April 29, 2008

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A U.S. State Department official Monday said the department is short of staff to fulfill the tasks of reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, pointing out that the Pentagon has more musicians than diplomats deployed abroad.

"When I tell the 5,500 figure, the (military) generals are usually shocked," said Eliot Cohen, counselor to the state secretary, in his response to the Defense Department's "unlimited" demand for diplomats to reinforce the Iraq and Afghanistan reconstruction teams.

The 5,500 refers to the number of those who are employed by the State Department in Washington and abroad out of the total 12,000.

In contrast, the Pentagon currently has more than 3 million men and women on its payroll, including 7,500 people in military bands, according to the official statistics.

State Secretary Condoleezza Rice has requested Congress to approve more funding to hire an additional of 1,200 staff to work on reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Since 2002, there have been 12 U.S.-leading provincial reconstruction teams comprising 50 to 100 people established in Afghanistan, and 24 teams in Iraq.


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