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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

|

MARCH 2015

55

AFSA NEWS

AFSA President Silverman (left) shares a laugh with Senator Al Franken

(D-Minn.) during the swearing-in reception for Senator Brian Schatz

(D-Hawaii).

From left: AFSA Retiree Counselor Matt Sumrak and State VP Asada greet

Stoney Burke, the chief of staff for Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas). Hurd is a

former Central Intelligence Agency employee and a cybersecurity expert.

Having served abroad alongside Foreign Service members, he has a unique

understanding of the challenges facing American diplomats and the need

for resources.

AFSA/JAVIERCUEBAS

AFSA/DAVIDMURIMI

Update: AFSA Promotes Improved Security at State

Employee security continues

to be one of AFSA’s top priori-

ties, as shown by its inclusion

in the 2013-2015 Governing

Board’s Strategic Plan (see

www.bit.ly/1nFz7tl

).

AFSA works closely with

the State Department and

other foreign affairs agencies

to address security challenges

and ensure that employees

are safely and effectively able

to engage overseas. Toward

that end, AFSA has focused

on the need for enhanced lan-

guage and security-awareness

training.

AFSA fully supports the

State Department’s recent

revision of criteria allowing

posts to designate a position

to receive language train-

ing for reasons of “personal

security” that might not

qualify for such instruction

under the more restrictive

“official capacity” category.

AFSA believes that this would

be of particular value at high-

threat, high-risk posts, where

multiple positions and skill

codes have traditionally been

without language designation

and language training.

AFSA provided feedback to

developers of a pilot “Diplo-

macy at High-Threat Posts”

course (RS 251) at the Foreign

Service Institute which is

being offered eight times in

2015.

AFSA also worked with the

department on the creation

of a new work requirement for

Employee Evaluation Reports

that emphasizes the employ-

ee’s personal responsibility

for security, while at the

same time addressing AFSA’s

concerns about potential

overly broad application in the

disciplinary process.

The State Department

recently instituted a new Vital

Presence Validation Process,

which it will use to determine

whether U.S. government

presence in foreign countries

engenders more policy ben-

efits than risks to its employ-

ees. AFSA strongly supports

the establishment of such a

process and believes it would

be enhanced by AFSA’s formal

participation overseas at the

Emergency Action Committee

level and here inWashington.

In a January 2014 letter to

Secretary of State John Kerry,

AFSA declared its desire to

be involved. AFSA continues

to work with the department

and our congressional allies in

this area.

AFSA is concerned by

the department’s recent use

of “temporary relocation,”

for instance, with Embassy

Baghdad, rather than the tra-

ditional authorized or ordered

departures from post. AFSA

strongly believes that autho-

rized and ordered departures

afford management sufficient

flexibility to reevaluate staff-

ing decisions and ensure that

employees receive adequate

protections and allowances.

In June 2014, AFSA wrote

to Acting Director General

of the Foreign Service Hans

Klemm detailing these con-

cerns.

AFSA consistently high-

lights security concerns when

meeting with members of

Congress, and has particu-

larly focused on the impor-

tance of training. AFSA was

instrumental in the successful

advocacy for the establish-

ment of a Foreign Affairs

Security Training Center in Ft.

Pickett, Virginia.

n

Shannon Mizzi,

Editorial

Intern