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Because of the decreased violence in Iraq, the Army can devote more of its organizational energy on issues outside its traditional role of merely fighting wars.

The way forward in Iraq is political and economic progress, said Lt. Col. Steven Miska, commander of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment out of Schweinfurt, Germany.

Units within the battalion — known as Task Force 1-2 — provide security escorts for State Department officials with provincial reconstruction teams.

“As long as we’ve got a stable enough environment that allows us to help in other areas, the way I help is I help get the political experts, the economic experts where they need to be and meet with the folks they need to meet with,” he said.

The Army also provides manpower.

The State Department really doesn’t have the equivalent of platoon leaders and company commanders, Miska said.

“We fill that role,” he said. “We dual-hat for many of the other agencies in the government because they don’t have the same capacity that the Department of Defense has.

“We’ve trained a lot of our junior officers to at least have a good understanding of some of the problems and the complexities, and then to help bring the real subject-matter experts out there when we get the opportunity.”

In June, there were roughly 6,600 foreign service officers in the State Department, according to an article in the January/February edition of “Foreign Affairs.”

There are more musicians in military bands than there are U.S. diplomats, according to the article.

The Defense Department’s 2008 budget was more than 24 times as large as the combined budget of the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development — $750 billion compared to $31 billion, according to the “Foreign Affairs” article.

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