The Foreign Service Journal - November 2014 - page 10

Talking About Foreign
Service Advocacy
In his September column
(“Talking About Foreign Service
Advocacy”), AFSA President
Robert Silverman usefully
identified two ways the Foreign
Service could enhance its capa-
bilities, while simultaneously raising
its profile within Washington and around
the world.
His anecdote recalling FSO Alberto
Fernandez’s habit of taking notes in Ara-
bic reminded me of former Ambassador
Chas Freeman’s routine of speaking a for-
eign language at dinner twice per week.
Practices like these would foster the
development of an ethos unique to the
Foreign Service that will not only improve
our performance in the field, but in Wash-
ington, too.
I also appreciated Silverman’s sug-
gestion to create a new career track to
institutionalize the lessons learned from
our nation-building experiences. This not
only would advance the goals he lays out
in his column, but would foster greater
cohesion and understanding among
State, USAID and the military.
Implementing a change like that could
also encourage the department to incor-
porate after-action reviews into our work
processes, to enable continued growth as
an organization.
David S. Boxer
Economic Officer
Embassy New Delhi
Embassy Kabul
I greatly appreciated and enjoyed Bill
Bent’s recent article about Foreign Service
life in Afghanistan (“Serving at Embassy
Kabul,” September
From January through April 2002,
I was the Kabul Overseas Building
Operations contract project
director for the reopening
of the old embassy. In that
capacity, I was responsible
for setting up the 150-per-
son container camp and its
supporting utilities, power,
sewer, phone, water, etc.
The Marines did a
first-class job guarding the compound,
and when I got sick the medic gave me
Cipro daily. After four days, the medic
announced that I would not need a free
helicopter ride! I did receive an Exem-
plary Honor Award.
Keep up the good work.
Jeff Watts
FSO, retired
Gualala, Calif.
Move Up or Out, Please
George Lambrakis’s denunciation of
“up or out” (September Speaking Out,
“‘Up or Out’ Is Harming American Foreign
Policy”) is severely dated and appears to
be based on the bitter musings of a hand-
ful of retired policy officers.
State has no shortage of excellent
policy minds, nor (short of another 1950s
McCarthy-style witch hunt) is it ever likely
to have one.
What State does have a shortage of is
proper management and leadership in
the areas of conduct, suitability and dis-
cipline (known as CSD) and performance
management issues. That is precisely why
we need more, not less, “up or out.”
Foreign Service officers who are poor
performers or have CSD issues need to be
weeded out more aggressively, and their
enablers (supervisors) should suffer the
requisite career consequences.
Dysfunctional and hostile workplaces
(of which there are far too many in State
and at our missions overseas) are poor
purveyors of policy, endanger our secu-
rity and imperil good diplomacy.
Inspired policy will follow strong man-
agement and leadership, not vice-versa.
Matt Weiller
Washington, D.C.
Advocacy on Assignment
I am particularly gratified to learn
that AFSA is advocating modest reform
and oversight in the Diplomatic Security
assignment preclusion process.
Preclusion had put a damper on
my career until last summer, when I
requested that DS reconsider what I per-
ceived to be a prejudicial judgement.
They did, and I can now spend two
years in a Priority Staffing Post in a typi-
cally hard-to-fill position. I already have
the needed languages and hope to add
greater dimension to post activities and
programming, not to mention monitor-
ing millions of dollars of U.S. government
Kudos to AFSA for taking on this issue,
which has direct bearing on recruitment,
diversity in the Foreign Service and our
overall success as an organization.
Sofia Khilji
Refugee Coordinator
Embassy Islamabad
Longer Career Paths
“I agree with the idea that we should
allow for longer career paths, especially
if we can incorporate the kind of ‘mid-
career’ training for FSOs (and other
career State employees) that is a given for
our colleagues in uniform. State has come
a long way on training fromwhere it was
when I started my career in 1973, but it
cannot afford to rest on these laurels.”
—Robert A. Mosher, commenting on
September’s Speaking Out on the AFSA
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