The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2005

J U LY- A U G U S T 2 0 0 5 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 55 F O C U S O N F S I / F S T R A I N I N G O N THE R OAD A GAIN ! T HE L IFE OF A CMT T RAINER ollowing the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Congress gave the Department of State a new mandate — to train all of our overseas posts in crisis management. Soon after the bombings, the Crisis Management Training Division of FSI’s Leadership and Management School was looking for instructors to fulfill this require- ment. The position description and qualifications for these trainers went far beyond an ability to teach. To be effec- tive, crisis management trainers have to be familiar with the policies, practices and people of the Foreign Service. They have to understand the U.S. military, especially its role in worldwide emergency response such as evacuation of American citizens overseas. They must have an understanding of the complexities of life at our overseas posts and how various federal agencies, such as the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Peace Corps, work together overseas. During short visits with packed training schedules, they have to establish good rapport with local staff, many of whom are not fluent in English. Trainers must have absolutely no fear of flying; be unflappable in the face of lost luggage, delayed or canceled trips, and bun- gled hotel reservations; possess lots of energy; be extremely flexible; and, ideally, have a cast-iron stom- ach. They should be good creative writers and possess strong communications skills. They should have lots of training experience, especially for emergency and crisis situations. And they should hold (or be able to get quickly) a Top Secret security clearance. The requirements were daunting, but curiosity over- came me. As an anthropologist, I already had a love of other countries, delight in world travel, and no fear of hardship. I had worked for USAID and in several embassies. I knew how our posts operate, and already had the security clearance and the cast-iron stomach. I knew this job was for me. So in September 2000, I joined the Crisis Management Training team. The other crisis management trainers were gener- ous mentors, getting me ready to head out on my own. I pored over the huge Emergency Planning Handbook; consulted with all of the Department of State’s crisis response offices, from the Operations Center to the Bureau of Diplomatic Security; read emergency action plans from posts all over the world; and finally packed my bags for my first trip as a crisis manage- ment trainer. F T HE F OREIGN S ERVICE I NSTITUTE ’ S CMT D IVISION HAS A MANDATE TO TRAIN ALL OF OUR OVERSEAS POSTS IN CRISIS MANAGEMENT . B Y A MELIA B ELL K NIGHT