The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2020

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2020 11 Being There Congratulations to Ambassador Anne Patterson for stating the case that “We Have to Be There” so clearly (September FSJ ). Language com- petency is also a critical enabling factor. When I was director of Foreign Service Institute–Tunis [Arabic field school], I told the students: “They won’t invite you to dinner at their house if they have to explain the jokes to you.” Four/four competency (or better) is highly desirable. Armed with that, an officer should be allowed to travel outside the embassy compound, around his or her country of assignment, and without a security follow-car. True, ambassadors may require spe- cial measures, but the reporting officers, including consular and management members, must be able to move freely to cultivate face-to-face relationships with their counterparts and other persons of interest and influence in the country. Only then will we begin to understand the environment we were sent to work in. Charles O. Cecil Ambassador, retired Alexandria, Virginia n paganda as usual. We engaged in an active Q&A session after his remarks, many of the students challenging his assertion. We left Fort McNair in June 1989, and by November everything had changed before the eyes of all the world. In ret- rospect, it is quite remarkable how our watchers were so systemically unprepared for the events that shook the world only months later. J. Michael Cleverley FSO, retired Leesburg, Virginia Two Gentlemen from Foggy Bottom Watching the first session of the impeachment hearings allowed me to recall my assignment to the Board of Examiners to the Foreign Service (1997- 2000). Our job was to test candidates who had passed the written exam in a group exercise, a démarche with a writ- ing assessment, an interview involving responses to three hypothetical FS- related situations and an exit interview. Current procedures differ in some respects, but to pass the Oral Assess- ment each candidate’s effort was weighed against a set of “dimensions” deemed essential building blocks for success, but not guarantees. The dimensions are self-explanatory and familiar to those who went through the testing (and probably to those in other professions that require both tra- decraft and interpersonal competence). In actuality, of course, levels of perfor- mance vary. Here are the official dimensions State uses: composure, cultural adapt- ability, experience & motivation, infor- mation integration & analysis, initiative & leadership, judgment, objectivity & integrity, oral communication, plan- ning & organizing, quantitative analysis, resourcefulness, working with others and written communi- cation. I have developed a comple- mentary list of my own. After watching two exemplary senior representatives of the Foreign Service, William Taylor and George Kent, in the crucible of the congressional hearing, I conclude they exhibited a number of the new dimensions (as well as the original ones), essential for fulfilling the demands of a Foreign Service career. My list follows, with some annota- tion and a grain of salt (but no excess verbiage): A moral compass Resilience Self-discipline Circumspection (in all things) Flexibility (but not malleability) An even temperament with matching sense of humor Open-mindedness Introspection Rhino-thick skin A positive problem-solving orientation A stress-management strategy Common sense at an uncommon level Patriotism of the first order Compassion I would note that no FSO has ever possessed all these qualities, but the first one who does may be eligible for canonization. Thomas Paine, how- ever, might have noted that the patriot “who stands by [his country in service] now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman,” which would be an adequate reward for those who do not covet wealth and glory for serving the nation. David Rabadan FSO, retired Annandale, Virginia Share your thoughts about this month’s issue. Submit letters to the editor: