THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
dards. After the report was issued, the situation became even
worse as a result of the department-wide pay freeze that caused
LE staff wages in high-inflation countries to plummet.
The State Department has been addressing this situation
on a case-by-case basis, but a more comprehensive solution is
needed. The effectiveness of our missions abroad depends on
our ability to attract and retain talented local staff members.
I urge the new administration to make fair pay for our LE staff
colleagues a top priority and to seek funding from Congress to
make it a reality.
Mary Grace McGeehan
Cape Town, South Africa
America’s First Line of Defense
The Foreign Service is America’s first line of defense. Should
the Foreign Service fail to resolve an existential dispute, the U.S.
military then takes over. The Foreign Service and the State Depart-
ment are de facto, and generally unrecognized, national security
in Foreign Service
We understand that many Americans don’t have a clear under-
standing of what we do—at home or abroad—compared to our
fellows in other agencies and departments.
My colleagues—whether Foreign Service or Civil Service,
military or foreign local employees—work long hours every day
because they want to serve our government. No matter the politi-
cal leanings of the administration, we believe in American leader-
ship in the world, and we want to ensure good governance and
defend and advance the interests of our nation and the principles
our country stands for.
Our collective dedication, experience and, yes, counsel, can
be a powerful asset—and I urge the new administration to please
H. Martin McDowell
I am a Midwesterner. I had no connection
to the Foreign Service prior to joining.
I have proudly served America in six
countries during my career—helping in
a mass evacuation after an earthquake,
visiting Americans in prison to make sure
their rights were protected, assisting an
American in the middle of the night who
was destitute and had just been assaulted,
uncovering various smuggling rings and
preventing cartel members from being
I served in Bogota, where the Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia–People’s Army, known as FARC, blew up car bombs;
and I served in Havana when we were considered the imperialist
enemy. My wife and kids adapt to a new posting, language and
culture every few years. My career isn’t unusual—this is what we
in the Foreign Service do, and we are proud to do it.
FSO, Diplomat in Residence
Elevate Public Diplomacy
It is time to take public diplomacy out of the State Department
and give it back the agency status it once had. We are losing the
war of ideas around the world. Social media has changed the way
we practice public diplomacy, and we are not keeping up with it.
To help make America great again, we need to do a better job tell-
ing its story and explaining its policies.
Our Most Important Role
The most important role of the Foreign Service is to get foreign-
ers to do what we want. To be most effective in that, we need an
understanding of foreign societies, interests and leadership. Our
embassies need to be secure and supplied with the right people
and equipment to allow interaction with host governments and
people at every level, including outside the capital. We use these
contacts and relationships to develop policy recommendations