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28

MAY 2015

|

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

v

Form a Seamless Partnership with the RSO

Consulate General Karachi’s security team was an integral

part of everything we did. Our success would not have been

possible without the unity of vision and purpose that I shared

with my regional security officers, in particular. I was lucky to

have enough RSO staff, but also the right people. They looked

for every opportunity to say “yes,” even when saying “no” would

have been easier. And they

shared my commitment to

customer service and commu-

nication.

But beyond resting on the

comfort of having strong RSO

staff, we made sure that we care-

fully managed post-Benghazi

security requirements by:

Looping in the RSO.

Every

trip, visit and engagement

required advance planning, and

someone from the RSO shop

was always present from the

start, so there were no surprises.

Running effective EAC

meetings

. As you might imagine,

our Emergency Action Committee met very often. Before each

session, the RSO and I conferred to set the agenda for the meeting,

focusing on the messages Washington needed to hear coming out

of it. This kept the gatherings efficient and made them as useful as

possible.

v

Coordinate Closely with Washington

The most important thing I learned frommy two years leading

Consulate General Karachi is this: Successful diplomacy in a high-

threat post depends on understanding Washington—and, for a

constituent post, the embassy as well.

There is no use complaining about the “10,000-mile screw-

driver.” Today’s technology guarantees that no overseas post will

ever operate with the sense of autonomy and distance from the

flagpole that we once did. The key to managing and succeeding is

constantly taking the pulse of Washington,

and anticipating information demands—

both to avoid surprises and (hopefully)

head off directives you disagree with.

I thought I had done a good job meet-

ing the key Washington players during

consultations before I went to post. But

events in September 2012 and later,

particularly the spring 2014 attack on Karachi Airport, made me

realize I hadn’t even scratched the surface in terms of everyone

who had a say in operations at my post.

Success in navigating the shifting waters of Washington, par-

ticularly from a constituent post, required:

■ Regular and open communication with the desk;

■ Understanding the State

Department and interagency

decision points, and the impor-

tance of EAC cables and other

channels of communication;

■ Earning the trust of Wash-

ington decision-makers; and

■ Building and maintaining

a close partnership with the

embassy front office and coun-

try team, including spending

a few days every month in the

capital.

Success Is Possible

The robust diplomacy we

carried out in Karachi used all

the tools at our disposal. Our team developed political and civil

society contacts, promoted U.S. business interests and our core

development objectives, facilitated legitimate travel to the United

States, and touched countless lives through education programs,

social media and even televised cooking shows.

The tragic events of September 2012 altered our operating

environment, just as emerging local and global threats did. These

often affected what we could do from day to day, but they didn’t

stop us from doing our job. Nor, I believe, did they appreciably

limit the impact of our work.

The main lesson I took away frommy time in Karachi was

that, even in the post-Benghazi era, U.S. diplomats can success-

fully engage in high-threat environments—if they have the right

resources, foster a strong and unified team, and understand

Washington.

n

Every movement an American staff

member made in Karachi was planned

in advance.

PUBLIC AFFAIRS/CONSULATE GENERAL KARACHI

CG Dodman enjoying a performance by Sufi musicians during a

visit to northern Sindh province, February 2013.