The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2012

long time. But as it documented in Rebuilding Diplomacy: A Survey of Past Calls for State Department Trans- formation (, “c hronic staffing shortfalls driven by budget cuts and increased responsibilities se- verely constrain the department’s abil- ity to release employees from daily duties so that they can undertake needed education and training.” The CNAS study made it clear that expanded State Department training should go be- yond simply preparing employees for their next assign- ment to offering courses to prepare Foreign Service officers for a career in government. “The State Depart- ment should make an institutional commitment to train- ing its diplomats to excel at conducting 21st-century diplomacy,” the Center said. As soon as he became Secretary of State in 2001, Colin Powell made rectifying the situation a top priority. Through the Diplomatic Readiness Initiative, intended to rebuild a Foreign Service gutted by a decade of flat or de- clining budgets, State quickly hired more than a thousand Foreign Service personnel, exceeding the rate of attrition. The goal was to create a surplus “float,” or reserve, of of- ficers that would allow full staffing of posts overseas even as a sizable contingent of officers underwent long-term education and training in Washington. Unfortunately, the demand for Foreign Service per- sonnel, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, grew so vo- raciously that allowing them to stay in Washington to pursue long-term professional training was a luxury most posts couldn’t afford. Diplomacy 3.0, We Hardly Knew Ye In 2009, the Obama administration decided to tackle this longstanding challenge head on. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton launched an initiative dubbed Diplomacy 3.0, with an ambitious goal of expanding the ranks of Foreign Service personnel at the State Depart- ment by 25 percent, both to meet new needs and to allow more officers to take training. The year before, USAID launched the Development Leadership Initiative, a re- lated program, with the even bolder goal of doubling the number of FSOs there. As its name suggests, Diplomacy 3.0 — also known as “The 3 Ds” — has three elements: diplomacy, de- velopment and defense. Developed as part of a creative marketing pitch aimed at Congress, the initiative cen- tered on the proposition that the Foreign Service faces increasingly complex challenges in the post-9/11 world. Besides serving in war zones, today’s diplomats have to engage their foreign peers on subjects ranging from terrorism and international crime to nuclear nonproliferation, the environment and many oth- ers requiring specialized knowledge, program manage- ment abilities and familiarity with the interagency community. To do that effectively, they also need to master diffi- cult languages like Chinese and Arabic. Taken together, all of these demands require a massive expansion of pro- grams at the Foreign Service Institute, the department’s training center, as well as sufficient hiring to create and maintain a training float. For a while, the approach seemed to be working. Thanks to massive infusions of resources, State expanded the ranks of Foreign Service employees by about 17 per- cent in less than two years to more than 13,000. As of 2011, USAID had hired 809 new officers, boosting its Foreign Service work force by two-thirds. FSI received sizable budget increases, as well. Its budget doubled be- tween 2008 and 2011, rising from $121 million to $240 million. But the progress stopped once Democrats lost the House of Representatives in November 2010 and held a narrower majority in the Senate. A huge class of Repub- lican freshmen, many of them inspired by the fiscally aus- tere Tea Party movement, joined forces with other fiscal conservatives and foreign policy isolationists on Capitol Hill to downsize federal agencies. FSI’s budget went flat, and funds for Foreign Service recruitment and hiring also took a hit. In early 2011 Senator Tom Coburn, R-Okla., perhaps the Senate’s foremost budget-cutter, delivered a blunt message to State Department officials at a Homeland Se- curity and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing. Diplomacy 3.0, he said, was dead. “We are all on an absolutely unsustainable course in J U LY- A U G U S T 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 15 F OCUS Diplomacy 3.0 and the Development Leadership Initiative have attempted to institutionalize a training reserve. Shawn Zeller, a regular contributor to the Journal , is a free- lance writer in Washington, D.C.