State finds enough suckers for Iraq posts

The State Department said on Monday it had now found enough volunteers to serve in Iraq and would not have to force diplomats to go there.

Last month, in an announcement that angered many diplomats, the State Department said it might order staff to Iraq against their will if it could not fill 48 vacant spots in the U.S. embassy in Baghdad next summer.

However, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said all of the posts had now been filled by volunteers and there would be no need for “directed” assignments to the war zone.

He said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would send a cable to employees congratulating them on meeting the staffing challenge in Baghdad.

“We were quite pleased that we had State Department volunteers that stepped up,” McCormack said, adding that Rice reserved the right to direct assignments in the future if not enough people came forward.

Diplomats had been upset by the prospect that some of them could have been ordered to accept postings in Iraq. One described a mandatory assignment in Iraq as a “potential death sentence.”

(Reporting by Sue Pleming; Editing by Chris Wilson)