The Foreign Service Journal, September 2011

30 F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 t starts with a simple e-mail asking for a few facil- ity managers to work for a few months in Iraq. Wow, what an opportunity to be on the “front lines,” the “tip of the spear”! Your post is reluctant to let you go, but the front office wants some “street cred” for supporting the department’s number-one priority. So you submit your name and wait. The call comes, and now you prepare to leave post for four months (December 2010 to March 2011, in my case). You spend the first month taking care of administrative matters back in Washington, D.C., filling out forms and attending classes. The highlight of your training is the 2½ days spent in West Virginia at the evasive driving course (familiarly known as “Crash and Bang”). Then it’s “planes, trains and automobiles” until you finally arrive at the embassy in Baghdad, which is rather surreal. You’d heard all the stories about how hard life was in Iraq; now here you are, walking the grounds of the Green Zone. It’s a beautiful new embassy compound, full of armored Suburbans, apartment buildings and recreation facilities, not to mention Subway, Pizza Hut and Green Bean Coffee out- lets, among many others. And most of the Locally Engaged Staff are from other U.S. embassies around the world. You feel more like you’re part of “It’s a Small World,” Department of State–style, than a foreign country. You’re quickly whisked into consultations, where you hear things like “We have this excellent opportunity for you to excel,” “This is the department’s top priority,” and “Nothing like this has ever been done before.” (My “Spidey sense” of impending danger began to tingle at “opportunity to excel,” for I’ve heard that phrase before, and it was never good.) The meetings finish with “You will be heading to Mosul,” which was billed as a little slice of paradise in northern Iraq. Planning Embassy Branch Office Mosul After a series of helicopter and fixed-wing rides, you ar- rive at Contingency Operating Site Diamondback in Mosul (formerly known as a Forward Operating Base). You are met by a facility manager who is thrilled to see you, if only because it means now he can leave. He takes you to a glo- rified Conex box called a containerized housing unit, which is your new home. It’s as close to camping as you can get without a tent. You can’t help but be awestruck by the sheer force of the resident U.S. Army brigade, full of “green suiters” (soldiers); mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles; elevated sensors (mini-Goodyear blimps with cameras on them); and a coun- terartillery rocket and mortar. Everywhere you go, the buzzword is “expeditionary diplo- macy.” The concept is pretty simple. The State Department creates an FOB-like embassy branch office, referred to as an EBO. (Every time I hear that term, I start having “Star Wars” flashbacks, expecting Boba Fett or Chewbacca to show up from Tatooine. But I digress.) After you review a master plan depicting the EBO foot- print, the now-euphoric departing facilities manager takes you through the phased plan for construction. After a quick question-and-answer session, you realize you are under- E XPEDITIONARY D IPLOMACY FROM THE G ROUND U P H AMMERING THE SQUARE PEG OF EXPEDITIONARY DIPLOMACY INTO THE ROUND HOLE OF S TATE D EPARTMENT REGULATIONS CAN BE A COMPLICATED PROCESS . B Y S COTT M C F ADDEN Scott McFadden, a Foreign Service facility manager since 2006, volunteered for a 90-day temporary duty assignment in Mosul, Iraq, while serving in Lome. He recently began a new assignment in Kabul. I