The Foreign Service Journal - January/February 2017
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We take seriously the oath we swore to defend the Constitu-

tion, and we look forward to helping you uphold yours.

Matt Keene

FSO, Consul General

U.S. Embassy Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The Tip of the Spear

The U.S. Foreign Service and its 200-plus diplomatic missions

around the world perform an array of duties and functions criti-

cal to the well-being of our nation. The Foreign Service acts not

only as America’s “eyes and ears” globally, but also has the very

special responsibility to execute and make presidential visions

real to a foreign audience—friends and foes alike.

America’s success as a nation can be linked historically to the

dedication, wise counsel and sacrifice made by members of the

Foreign Service and foreign affairs agencies serving abroad. The

Foreign Service stands ready as the “tip of the spear” in helping

the Trump administration realize its vision of making America

great again, both at home and abroad.

Timothy C. Lawson

Senior FSO, retired

Hua Hin, Thailand

Public Service Matters

I would wish to make clear to the new administration how much

work the Foreign Service is tasked with and completes on a daily

basis at our embassies around the world, often putting them-

selves knowingly into dangerous or unhealthy environments.

We have become an expeditionary Foreign Service in many

ways, while still carrying out support for congressional delega-

tions (CODELs), staff delegations (STAFFDELs), Freedom Of

Information Act requests and Secretary of State or presidential

visits, as well as critical diplomatic efforts in addition to routine

but important visa work to help promote freedom and democ-

racy globally. I wish to convey my extreme pride in all of my col-

leagues—past and present, generalist and specialist—who have

served or are currently serving proudly in the Foreign Service.

I would like to suggest that the inbound administration initi-

ate a truly historical undertaking, much like a previous presi-

dent with a vision for America did—I refer to John F. Kennedy’s

creation and support of the Peace Corps.

I urge this new administration to consider requiring two years

of mandatory public service by all 18- to 30-year-old citizens.

They could choose to serve with, for example, the armed forces;

in the State Department or the Forest

Service; in hospitals, medical corps or

hospice settings, or other public ser-

vice venues. Social studies and civics

training classes on our country’s proud

history and form of government would

be integrated seamlessly into this service

period, perhaps even affording college

credits for completion.

Too many young people have no

concept today of what it means to be an

American citizen or the sacrifices that

our fathers, mothers, grandparents and,

of course, veterans and Foreign Service

members have made in providing all of us a safe, free and pros-

perous America to live and thrive in.

Make public service great and meaningful again.

Steven M. Mort

FS Information Management Officer

U.S. Mission Geneva, Switzerland

Please Listen to the

Diplomatic Service

First of all, know that you have an elite diplomatic service at your

disposal, one that certainly is among the best in the world. Don’t

be afraid to use us regardless of whatever contrary advice you

may receive. We exist in large measure precisely to carry out and

implement policies crafted and codified by you and your senior

staffers, as articulated eloquently in the Foreign Service Act of

1980 and previous legislation dating back almost a hundred


But, please, also listen to us carefully, as we have honed

expertise of high value to you and our nation’s foreign policy. For

that reason, too, please consider raising the proportion of profes-

sional diplomats who will serve as chiefs of mission around the

world to at least 70 percent. The Trump administration and our

country will both be better for this cardinal step.

We have skills, knowledge and experience, as well as repre-

senting the full diversity of our great country to help execute the

vision you espouse for the next four years.

Vangala S. Ram

Senior FSO, retired

Arlington, Virginia