The Foreign Service Journal, May 2018

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MAY 2018 19 Alex Karagiannis retired from the Foreign Service in November 2017 with the rank of Minister Coun- selor. He last served as Senior Advisor to the Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources in 2017. Lessons learned from the Tillerson tenure can help the new Secretary of State enhance the State Department’s core diplomatic and national security mission. BY AL EX KARAG I ANN I S P resident Donald Trump’s firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and intention to nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo as his replacement could have profound implications for the reforms that Secretary Tillerson initiated at the State Department. What will not change is the fact that State employees, includ- ing career members of the U.S. Foreign Service, are eager for serious, sober and substantial reforms that will enhance the effectiveness of the State Department’s capacity to carry out its core diplomatic and national security mission. Tillerson’s “redesign” initiatives were ill-equipped to do that; they front-loaded staff and budget cuts rather than determining strategic priorities, strengthening capabilities and building advan- tages. The now-common sport of analyzing the damage done to the State Department during the past 16 months understates the problem. It’s worse when examining hard data in historical context. The new Secretary can take simple but consequential steps that boost State’s ability to drive and execute policy and deliver results for the United States. Here are my suggestions: Straight Talk on Diplomatic Capacity COVER STORY