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MARCH 2016


Rather than trying to merge the Civil

Service and Foreign Service (as was the

goal of “Wristonization” back in the

1950s) or the more recent efforts under

Secretary of State Colin Powell to soften

the distinctions between the two entities,

maybe we need to recognize the need for

a third path, one that helps bridge the two


Stuart Denyer


U.S. Embassy Algiers

Mutual Understanding



continues to play a vital role

in exploring sensitive issues that benefit

from airing. Publishing Larry Roeder Jr.’s

October Speaking Out column (“Seek- ing Parity Between the Civil and Foreign Services”

) is a particularly timely case in


Two letters to the editor responding to

Mr. Roeder’s views in the December issue


“Civil and Foreign Service Relations


“Parity Is Not Equality”

) reflect the

intense sentiments on the topic. As they

note, seeking parity among the services

does not make sense: we sign up from the

start for different duty. Complementary,

but different.

“One team” is the mantra. But resent-

ment bubbles close to the surface. In

the Bureau of Educational and Cultural

Affairs, for example, FSOs are generally

seen as waltzing in for two years and

moving on while experienced program

officers have nowhere to go—a situation

that is exacerbated by a hiring freeze.

ECA is also a bureau that has had only political-appointee assistant secretar- ies. While they may be qualified in other

areas, political appointees are unlikely

to address intra- and inter-service (Civil

Service-Foreign Service) problems about

which they themselves know little.

It seems ironic that a bureau dedi-

cated to promoting mutual understand-

ing shows little regard for the problems

and misunderstanding between and

among the various parts of the bureau-

cracy. Civil servants view FSOs as arro-

gant and shallow. They aren’t all wrong

(it’s been a longtime dream that the

A-100 orientation course would include

a segment on humility). But there is

another side to the story, too.

This was brought home to me over