US IT workers in Middle East stay put

As the war in Iraq intensifies, multinational companies are keeping a close watch on their IT operations in the Middle East and...

As the war in Iraq intensifies, multinational companies are keeping a close watch on their IT operations in the Middle East and are preparing to react quickly if conditions deteriorate. But none of the companies have recalled any US IT workers from the region.

American Express has not pulled out any of its 200 IT workers in the Middle East, including a number of Americans. Amex said it has been re-evaluating and strengthening its security procedures in the area as a precaution.

Companies are generally tight-lipped about their contingency plans in the area for security reasons.

Stephanie Hampton, a spokeswoman for Marriott International, said the company has six hotels in the Middle East, each with its own IT systems managers.

"It's business as usual at this point," Hampton said, adding that the company does have contingency plans in place for workers.

Diesel engine manufacturer Cummins does not have a large IT presence in the region, said spokesman Jason Rawlings. But the company will make relocation available to any expatriate workers who feel uncomfortable where they are. Most of Cummins' IT employees in that part of the world are in India and are not directly affected by the war.

Sun Microsystems has a "very small number" of US IT workers in the Middle East and has plans in place to maintain its IT systems in the event of an evacuation.

Joe Stunkard, a spokesman for IBM, said few IBM employees are in the countries surrounding Iraq and that most of the company's work in the region is carried out by business partners.

"We're assessing the potential impact on our employees, customers, facilities and partners, and will take appropriate actions to protect and maintain our business operations," Stunkard said. "At this present time, we're not aware of any business disruptions related to Iraq."

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