Here's the contact's reply:
There are a number of reasons why State folks are not chomping at the bit for those jobs.
1. 350 positions is A LOT. To put into perspective, some HR stats on State Department authorized total numbers at various embassies (these are just State Dept. staffing):
Emb. Cairo: 183
Emb. New Delhi: 203
Emb. Beijing: 249
Emb. Mexico City: 199
Emb. Moscow: 203
Emb. Pretoria: 124
Those are the authorized numbers. The actual staffing at those Embassies appears to be 10-15% less. And I've just given you the largest embassies in these regions -- the smaller ones would be even more severly impacted by officers moving out to go to Baghdad. And though the upper brass may disagree, I think that a lot of State folks realize that there are other important diplomatic priorities in addition to Iraq.
2. You ask about incentives. Sure, there are some. But at this point it seems that there's a strong sense that the benefit of serving in Iraq is being watered down. By benefit, I mean promotion, recognition, etc. State folks aren't in it for the money -- and that's the largest benefit of serving in Iraq. State is trying all kinds of other carrots in regards to future assignments & whatnot, but with so many folks serving or having served already, the likelihood of the benefits actually sticking? Seem slim.
3. Of course, there is the fact that State officers are political pragmatists as well. What happens when the administration changes? It may be that even the actual, promised benefits disappear.
4. Why would a seasoned Africa hand with fluent Swahili want to serve in Baghdad? Seems like a funny question, but given the stress context and regional knowhow is given in diplomacy, its important.
5. We all remember this moment. There may be some of us who don't want to be there if it happens again.