The Foreign Service Journal - January/February 2017
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that account for the policy interests of our hosts and define the

points of intersection and divergence with our own.

Diplomats play their highest-value role when we lead inter-

agency teams overseas. The leadership role of the State Depart-

ment in executing our foreign policy relies on our unique focus

on foreign policy and ability to coordinate the views and activi-

ties of a diverse interagency team to achieve well-defined goals.

The leadership role of the Foreign Service relies, as well, on

our unique ability to see and act on the full breadth of U.S. inter-

ests—unlike other agencies and services, which have a narrower

focus on security, cultural or commercial interests.

FSOs should be present in every place and situation with the

potential to affect U.S. strategic interests. At a minimum, FSOs

should be assigned to joint military, intelligence and diplomatic

teams in areas of interest. Such assignments would allow for the

clearest operational picture and integrate policy recommenda-

tions and actions from U.S. representatives best able to provide

such insights.

Henry S. Ensher


McLean, Virginia

Use Development Assistance

to Build Capacity

Strong institutions are necessary for the achievement of last-

ing progress. It is widely recognized that strong institutions

are essential for nation-building and the efficient utilization of

external assistance. It is therefore surprising that donors seldom

fund institution-strengthening projects. The overwhelming

demands posed by the needs of low-income countries cause

donors to lose sight of the fundamental requirement of building

the institutions required to manage aid and continue working

after external funding has ended.

Donors can accelerate the graduation of middle-income

countries from dependence, and thereby shift more funding to

address the human needs of low-income countries. By joining

together, donors can streamline assistance and consolidate their

focus on building the institutions needed to ensure development

progress on a sustainable basis.

The goal is to enable host-government institutions to be

certified as capable of managing funds and activities according

to international standards. More work is needed to consistently

fund long-term institution assistance frameworks that increase

host-country capacity to better manage its own affairs and

respond to crises. In this manner, official development assis-

tance will progressively be managed by institutions that have

been certified.

These certified institutions will be responsible for managing

aid funds and implementing donor-funded projects according

to a performance-based system. Strong, pro-poor institutions

are the best way forward in the 21st century for low-income


Mark Wentling

USAID FSO, retired

Warwick, Rhode Island

Safeguard Our Diplomats

In moving forward to “Make America Great Again,” diplomacy

must take a leading role in fostering enhanced international

cooperation and an understanding of each country’s role and

responsibilities in the world. An expanded U.S. diplomatic out-

reach effort built on strength can only take place if appropriate

measures are in place to safeguard our diplomats as they work

and avoid the shortcomings and confusion that surrounded the

2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya.

Since September 2012 the Government Accountability Office

has issued three reviews to address these shortcomings.

First Review: June 25, 2014, “Diplomatic Security: Overseas

Facilities May Face Greater Risks Due to Gaps in Security-

Related Activities, Standards and Policies”

(GAO 14-655)


Second Review: July 9, 2015, “Diplomatic Security: State Depart-

ment Should Better Manage Risks to Residences and Other Soft

Targets Overseas”

(GAO 15-700)

. Third Review: Oct. 4, 2016,

“Diplomatic Security: State Should Enhance Its Management of

Transportation-Related Risks to Overseas U.S. Personnel” (GAO 17-124).

These reports cover the three aspects of diplomatic secu-

rity: overseas facilities, residential/soft targets and risks to U.S.

personnel. However, of the reports’ 26 recommendations for

improvement in these vital areas, only four have been ade-

quately addressed and closed.

Illustrative of these shortcomings is the two-year-old recom-

mendation that reads:

“To strengthen the effectiveness of the Department of State’s

risk management policies, the Secretary of State should develop

a risk management policy and procedures for ensuring the phys-

ical security of diplomatic facilities, including roles and respon-

sibilities of all stakeholders and a routine feedback process that

continually incorporates new information.”

Can America be made great again if we have not fully