The Foreign Service Journal, November 2015

10 NOVEMBER 2015 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Civ-Mil Partnerships Thank you for highlighting the impor- tance of civilian-military relations in the Foreign Service in the October Journal . In Iraq, I would joke to friends that it was often a challenge to be in a place where people dressed differently, spoke a different language, were hospitable but clearly had different beliefs and customs—and then you would go outside the wire with the Marines and be with the Iraqis. Based on my experience, I think the four keys to a strong partnership between U.S. civilian agen- cies and military units are: 1. An understanding of and respect for each other’s mission, customs, personnel practices and underlying approaches to achieving objectives (what the military calls “doctrine”). This holds regardless of whether a given mission is primar- ily civilian, with some military support (what we have in most embassies), or whether the mission has a high mili- tary component and yet has significant diplomatic and other civilian agency ele- ments, as in Iraq and Afghanistan. 2. Being able to “add value” to a given mission. For the Foreign Service this means drawing on (and supporting) its personnel who have deep area and language expertise; who can understand and deal effectively with foreign societ- ies’ ambiguities and contradictions, their outcasts and opposition, as well as their privileged classes; who have long experience addressing often contradic- tory policy goals in dealings with foreign governments, civil society, press and security services; who understand the full range of U.S. diplomatic, develop- ment, intelligence, law enforcement and military tools and interests; and who can work well with the interagency process, especially at our overseas missions. The military respects and appreciates this talent when we offer it. 3. Being willing to show up when needed in difficult and even dangerous circumstances. To the extent that the For- eign Service, and State, are willing to embed officers with military units or to staff provincial reconstruction teams, and more generally to send its best to embassies in countries at war, they gain credibility and respect from their colleagues in the military and in other agencies. 4. Having the right leaders in the right places. Embassy Baghdad under Ambas- sador Ryan Crocker and the embassy- U.S. military relationship led by Amb. Crocker and General David Petraeus are classic examples of the critical role of leadership in establishing an effective U.S. government and coalition civilian- military partnership. Stephen McFarland Ambassador, retired Bogotá, Colombia The FS Profession Lamenting that the Foreign Service is not yet a profession (Charles Ray, Speaking Out, July-August FSJ ) is an unfortunate tradition that has resurfaced from time to time over more than 50 years. James K. Penfield addressed this issue in the March 1960 edition of The Foreign Service Journal and urged the Foreign Service to get over our “built-in inferior- ity complex” and embrace the critical professional role that we must play in the life of the nation. In his classic work, The Soldier and the State , Samuel Huntington explicitly identifies diplomatic service as a profes- sion. And, I would argue, in the Foreign Service Act of 1980, Congress did so as well. Of course, there are always steps we can and should take to further enrich and advance our profession. But there is no good substitute for it—experts just won’t do. As Penfield said: “No one would deny that a good Merchant Marine skipper is a professional sailor. It might even be argued that he’s a better sailor than the average captain of a Navy ship, who spends a good deal less of his time at sea. But who in his right mind would suggest that the Navy would do its job better if it hired Merchant Marine officers with- out Navy experience to run some of its ships?” Deep experience in diplomacy is criti- cal for good diplomatic decision-making. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, in his leadership book, It Worked for Me , observed that the best decisions are those that draw upon “superb instinct” informed and developed through “long experience.” Such instincts are the hall- mark of professionals, not experts. Todd Kushner FSO Rockville, Maryland Back Story to the FS Act of 1980 The September articles on the Foreign Service Act of 1980 were interesting an d factual but neglected the back story: the two-year battle of the then-AFSA Governing Board with the department, on the one hand, and with Congress, on the other. A little history may be in order: Con- gress had already passed a major Civil Service Reform Act and was then intent on writing a Foreign Service Act congru- LETTERS