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Cablegate: Post Approves Nsdd 38 - U.S. Department Of

VZCZCXYZ0017
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHDM #0600 1650912
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 140912Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3700

UNCLAS DAMASCUS 000600

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AODE AMGT KMRS MASS SY
SUBJECT: POST APPROVES NSDD 38 - U.S. DEPARTMENT OF
DEFENSE, DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY REQUEST TO ADD ONE SCHOLAR
POSITION IN SYRIA

REF: A. STATE 71480
B. NSDD 38 CASE NUMBER DOD-SYR-37736-5212007

1. Post approves this NSDD 38 Department of Defense,
Department of Army request to add one Olmsted scholar
position in Syria, for an appointment of limited duration.
While this proposed staffing change is not reflected in the
most recent MSP, post believes that DOD has made a persuasive
case for posting an Olmsted scholar here in Damascus to study
Arabic. Syria is considered one of the best places,
linguistically, to study Arabic in the Middle East, with rich
possibilities for language immersion unavailable in most
neighboring countries, given the limited number of Syrians
who speak English here. Such an appointment could not have
been anticipated during the MPP/MSP process. This is not a
permanent appointment and will not affect the 2012
projections in post's recent rightsizing report.

2. We believe approval of this position will advance
mission's overall goals, including enhancing mutual
understanding and people-to-people contacts (Mission
Strategic Plan goal number seven) and represents a USG
long-term investment towards accomplishing other key foreign
policy goals, including preventing and responding to
terrorism, and achieving peace and security. There are no
other resources at Post that could perform the function of an
Olmsted scholar nor could this function be accomplished by
TDY, FSN, or contract work. The Olmsted Scholarship Program
provides valuable training in foreign cultures, with scholars
returning to the Army, often working as Foreign Area
Officers. With the need for area and language expertise,
especially in a hard language like Arabic, this scholarship
is invaluable.

3. Post believes the benefits of temporarily increasing
staffing outweigh inherent security risks associated with
additional personnel. This is especially true since Post's
key threat is an attack on the Embassy, (especially in light
of the lack of adequate setback), and the scholar will rarely
be inside the Embassy, certainly not on a regular basis,
minimizing exposure to this risk and thus not raising
appreciably the overall security exposure of Mission
personnel. Nonetheless, Post does face a residual security
threat and scholar posted here should understand that in the
event of some sort of attack on the Embassy or on Embassy
personnel, her studies here could be truncated in the event
of a drawdown of Mission personnel.

4. Post will provide minimal administrative support to the
scholar under ICASS and estimates the cost on an annual basis
to be approximately $7,600. The scholar is not expected to
be present at the embassy on a regular basis, and, hence,
will not require office space, furniture or equipment.
Further, she will not occupy furnished government-owned or
-leased quarters. The major post support will involve
clearing a personally-owned vehicle and household goods.
Post will also provide assistance in securing a diplomatic ID
card and a multiple entry visa (and its subsequent extension
of the visa as necessary), medical support and mail services.
The scholar must be able to sign ICASS invoices or have that
authority delegated to the DAO in Damascus as she will be the
sole representative of her specific agency/office at post.
The scholar will be encouraged to exhaust all other options
before relying on embassy support.

5. POC at Post for follow-up is John Finnegan, Jr.,
Management Counselor.

ROEBUCK

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