The Foreign Service Journal - March 2018

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MARCH 2018 13 issue here. Else- where (in inter- views with NPR and BuzzFeed), Amb. Stephen- son made clear that, “speaking on behalf of my colleagues,” she opposes the current reductions in staffing at Embassy Havana. While praising the willingness of State Department employees to serve in hardship posts, she draws a question- able analogy between the uncertain dangers we face in Havana and threats to health in places where people serve knowing full well the nature of the prob- lems and having the ability to mitigate them. I am unaware of any polling that has been done to assess the views of the For- eign Service on this matter, but I would argue that, even if Amb. Stephenson’s views were representative of a majority of our colleagues, prudence would dic- tate that the department err on the side of caution until we better understand who or what is behind these attacks. Does Amb. Stephenson oppose the sharp reductions in staff at our embassy in Kabul or the many other posts where the increased perception of a threat that we are unable to adequately address has led to a reduction in numbers? And is it really the place of the presi- dent of AFSA to be questioning these types of decisions made by the depart- ment with the well-being of the employ- ees in mind? Thomas Mittnacht FSO, State Department Foreign Policy Adviser Joint Interagency Task Force South Key West, Florida Bullish on Foreign Service Careers While developments at the U.S. Department of State and within the Foreign Service are making headlines nearly every day, none caught my atten- tion more than Georgetown University’s Dec. 8 edition of The Hoya , which pro- claimed: “Students Lose Faith in Foreign Service Careers.” The article asserts that dwindling opportunities at the State Department have prompted some students aspiring to the Foreign Service to look elsewhere. The author points to State Department records that show a 34 percent decline in the num- ber of applicants taking the Foreign Service Officer Exam compared to two years ago. This drop and the idea that students are now beginning to view entering the Foreign Service as a risk they do not want to take give me pause. Let me make my bias clear. I believe strongly in the Foreign Service—not only as a place to embark on a fulfilling career, but also in the inherent value of a career in service to our nation. Prior to joining the Institute of International Education, I spent nearly 20 years as a professor and dean at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown. During my tenure there, it was the top producer of career Foreign Service officers. Given its history and impact on the Foreign Service, the mood on the Georgetown campus is important. But it is equally essential to listen to what people say when they explore opportunities in the workforce. IIE received applications from 17,000 job seekers last year, so we know that there are many who want to make inter- national affairs the focus of their career. I meet with several IIE candidates a week, as well as others who are exploring different career paths. Invariably those I