The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2012

22 F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / J U LY- A U G U S T 2 0 1 2 USAID, the report recommend- ed increasing staff by 1,250 posi- tions above 2008 levels by Fiscal Year 2014, the cost of which would be partially offset by the conversion of 700 personal service contractors and other short-term American staff to permanent Foreign Service positions. In the area of reconstruction and stabilization, the report rec- ommended providing a substan- tial surge capacity of 562 per- sonnel in various capacities. Before, during and since the drafting of the report there has been a continuing discussion of whether the U.S. needs such capacities, whether the requirements of Iraq and Afghanistan were aberrations that can be put behind us, and whether State can or should revert to its “traditional” role — a view heavily influenced by resistance to the Afghan and Iraqi deployments. The idea that we can revert to older modes of diplo- macy, however, overlooks the continuing record of other interventions, of which Haiti, Kosovo and Bosnia are only the latest examples. Another key element of that debate is whether the Civilian Response Corps should include dedicated language and area experts, in addition to the functional experts currently engaged. Ambassador William Farrand’s interesting new book, Reconstruction and Peace Building in the Balkans: The Brcko Experience (Rowman & Littlefield, 2011) is a case study of the skills the Foreign Service fails to impart to officers before launching them to assume extensive re- sponsibilities in a stabilization situation. There will be more such situations, and a response corps, no matter how constituted, cannot be the sole answer. In most cases there will be embassies and officers already on the ground that have to take charge. Officers on the ground may not be fully trained to handle the issues of justice, policing and reconciliation common to stabilization and reconstruction operations. But while every situation will have its peculiarities, they should know, at a minimum, that some of them have arisen before and lessons have been learned. There is no reason to repeat painful mistakes. Last year we built on the FAB concept with a follow- up study, Forging a 21st-Century Diplomatic Service for the U.S. Through Professional Ed- ucation and Training . Launched in February 2011, it focused heavily on the fact that two- thirds of current Foreign Service personnel have entered since 9/11, and about half have joined in the past five years. The Value of Professional Education Under these conditions, our old models of mentoring cannot stretch far enough to provide the necessary training and education. State works hard to select the best possible of- ficers and offer them a broad menu of voluntary and some required training for specific functions, as well as leadership and language training. However, it has done little to establish professional education. The difference between education and training was summed up by a military colleague as “We train for certainty. We educate for uncertainty.” Professional education in this sense means having the opportunity to focus on larger issues beyond immediate tasks, and thus to prepare for senior-level responsibili- ties. (This is the function of the war colleges to which a few State officers are assigned each year.) But with ever increasing numbers of officers taking on more senior po- sitions, and doing so with a shorter apprenticeship due to rapid promotions, the need for serious professional ed- ucation is growing. The same is true of efforts to expand Foreign Service staff’s knowledge through required sys- tematic training throughout their careers. The 2011 report put forward a number of specific rec- ommendations to address the rapidly changing interna- tional environment and equip the Foreign Service to meet new professional demands. State has already adopted a few of those, but most of our proposals have hit the wall of budgetary austerity — a challenge likely to worsen before it improves. Despite such pressures, the Foreign Service Institute has continued to expand training opportunities, especially in the Language and Leadership Schools, and courses to prepare civilian personnel deploying to Afghanistan and Iraq. It has also responded heroically to a flood of new professional demands by creating new, short courses and beefing up its commitment to distance learning. But F OCUS The American Academy of Diplomacy continues to push for the resources required to advance professional development within the Foreign Service.