The Foreign Service Journal, May 2024

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MAY 2024 65 To honor the 100th birthday of the U.S. Foreign Service—and AFSA’s role as the “Voice of the Foreign Service”—the Journal held a writing competition for members with cash prizes. The topic: Looking ahead to the next century, describe the ideal Foreign Service, as an institution and a profession. We were thrilled to receive 65 submissions, and judging was challenging. Name-blind submissions were evaluated by a volunteer panel on the basis of originality, cogent and concise reasoning, clarity, and applicability. This essay, by Toby Wolf, won first place. The second-place essay by Darrow S. Godeski Merton and third-place essay by Joshua Morris will be published in the June and July-August editions, respectively. Congratulations to the competition winners, and thanks to all those who participated. We extend special thanks to our judges: AFSA President Tom Yazdgerdi and FSJ Editorial Board members Vivian Walker, David Bargueño, and Lynette Behnke. —The FSJ Team The door’s magnetic lock clicked shut as Olivia Bordo walked out of the embassy gate and climbed into a waiting robo-taxi to take her to the evening’s reception. It had been an intense few weeks working with her action team to persuade African government and economic leaders to partner with the United States on space-based energy systems. If the continent’s regional energy consortium agreed to join, the U.S. coalition would include nearly all the world’s most dynamic economies and could set the technological, safety, and ethical standards to ensure equitable access to solar energy from space. Less Hierarchy, More Autonomy Over the hum of the taxi’s electric motors, Olivia had a hologram call with her cross-functional action team. The team’s specialists—an AI engineer and a data scientist—were synced in real time with U.S. agencies to update forecasting models and answer technical questions about the advantages of the U.S. space energy proposal. Local team members were BY TOBY WOLF FOCUS ON CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION A Look at the Ideal Foreign Service for the Next Generation FSJ Writing Competition Winner tracking the political dynamics around host-country decisions. Her team’s energy experts, hired on short-term contracts from business and academia, provided valuable input for the U.S. proposal and built consensus among regional private-sector counterparts. The generalists on Olivia’s team were no longer siloed in rigid cones but had developed regional and issuespecific expertise to add to broad leadership, management, and public diplomacy skills. Long before Olivia joined the Foreign Service, forwardlooking leadership steered U.S. foreign affairs agencies toward more decentralized decision-making to ensure the United States remained a nimble actor on the global scene. While senior leaders retained traditional titles, most of the diplomatic workforce was now organized into semiautonomous action teams. Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and encryption technology allowed action teams to maintain real-time links to posts and to bureaus in Washington, D.C., so that messaging, clearances, and policy updates were automatically synchronized across platforms.