The Foreign Service Journal, November 2006

N O V E M B E R 2 0 0 6 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 7 Diplomats in War Zones AFSA’s recent message regarding its discussions with State manage- ment on new assignment procedures makes clear that it sought a reason- able balance between employee interests (particularly the interests of FSOs’ children) and the State De- partment’s needs. But I think a deeper analysis and engagement with State’s leadership are warranted. Namely, to what extent will FSOs serve in combat zones in the 21st century? When the U.S. invades a country and proposes to rebuild it in an environment over- whelmed by an armed insurgency — e.g., Iraq — is there really a role for- ward in the field for the Foreign Service (or USAID’s cadre)? Or is that work better undertaken by polit- ically savvy military officers of the type who effectively served the Brit- ish Empire in its frontier areas (such as the Indo/Afghan borderlands)? They may be rare today, but the U.S. military has them. I have known some of them — warriors with politi- cal smarts. The diplomatic service recruits a different sort of person than the mili- tary. Our personnel are loyal and devoted and prepared to accept hard- ship and some risks, but few are war- riors by temperament or training. Thus, they are not well-equipped to operate in largely unprotected hinter- land environments where they are prime targets of a well-organized insurgency. One could also note in this context the risks associated with Secretary Rice’s proposed deployment of one- or two-person posts outside capitals to populous but secondary Third World cities. In today’s world, that initiative, irrespective of its substan- tive merits (which I doubt), is likely either to invite attacks on “sitting duck” diplomats or to sink under the budgetary expense should we deploy platoons of security personnel to pro- tect each lone FSO. The respective roles of the For- eign Service and the uniformed mili- tary need to be re-examined as part of a wider effort at institution-building to better equip America to administer the many protectorates (i.e., occupied failed states) that are likely to come our way this century. Lacking anything akin to the bygone British Colonial Office, we need to develop a modern- day equivalent, however cloaked in politically correct terminology. Marc E. Nicholson FSO, retired Washington, D.C. Foreign Service and Civil Service Civility As a long-time Civil Service em- ployee, I appreciated AFSA State Vice President Steve Kashkett’s forth- right insights into issues related to Foreign Service and Civil Service employees and cultures in the State Department. His thoughtful piece in the September AFSA News provided an interesting perspective on these essential yet controversial issues, which receive too little direct atten- tion at State. This is unfortunate, as getting the Foreign Service-Civil Service relationship right facilitates winning American diplomacy. Such FS/CS matters have been understood as important to U.S. diplo- macy for decades. Former Secretary of State Dean Acheson recalled in his memoir, Present at the Creation , that the Hoover Commission recommend- ed in 1947 that “the personnel in the permanent State Department estab- lishment in Washington and the per- sonnel of the Foreign Service above certain levels should be amalgamated over a short period of years into a sin- gle foreign affairs service obligated to serve at home and overseas and con- stituting a safeguarded career group administered separately from the general Civil Service.” Acheson reported that this recom- mendation was not enacted for a number of reasons, including a belief that “to maintain the morale of the Foreign Service, the process of re- cruitment required both time and painstaking methods to ensure that the quality of the recruits should be high and that it should be recognized as being high.” Nonetheless, in terms of recogniz- ing the contributions of department employees with different careers and backgrounds, Acheson also observed that “not all the arts of diplomacy are learned solely in its practice. There are other exercise yards.” I did take minor exception to Mr. Kashkett’s terminology when he referred to Civil Service employees L ETTERS