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MAY 2017


May 3

12-1:30 p.m.

AFSA Governing

Board Meeting

May 5

Foreign Service Day/AFSA

Memorial Plaque Ceremony

May 11

4:30-6:30 p.m.




Archive Launch

May 25

4:30-6:30 p.m.

AFSA Networking

Happy Hour

May 29

Memorial Day:

AFSA Offices Closed

June 7

12-1:30 p.m.

AFSA Governing

Board Meeting

June 8

8 a.m.

AFSA Election

Voting Deadline

June 20

4-6 p.m.

AFSA Awards Ceremony

July 4

Independence Day:

AFSA Offices Closed

July 15

New Governing Board

Takes Office

Continuing the Conversation: Securing

Diplomacy for the Next Quarter-Century

On March 15, AFSA held

the second in a new

series of events, “Con-

tinuing the Conversa-

tion.” Former Assistant

Secretary for Diplomatic

Security Gregory Starr, a

retired FSO, took part in

a moderated conversa-

tion with AFSA President

Ambassador Barbara

Stephenson on the topic

of his article in the March

issue of

The Foreign Ser-

vice Journal

, “Securing

Diplomacy for the Next


Amb. Stephenson

kicked off the full-house

event at AFSA HQ, saying

“security is a responsibility,

not just for DS agents, but for

everyone,” a theme she had

expanded on in her March


president’s column “Working

Together to Manage Risk.”

Amb. Stephenson invited

Mr. Starr to comment on the

future of Diplomatic Security

and how the agency is prepar-

ing to respond to new threats

worldwide. DS special agents

should be trained in both

“hard skills” and diplomatic

tradecraft, Mr. Starr said, to

be prepared for the new chal-

lenges they will face.

“We need to get back to

the concept of service, and

be talking openly to recruits

and current members of the

Foreign Service about the

realities of the Service,” he


Mr. Starr emphasized, for

example, the importance of

being clear from the outset

that all members of the For-

eign Service should expect

to serve at an unaccompa-

nied post (a post designated

as unsafe for dependent

family members due to ter-

rorism or instability in the

host country).

He noted that DS special

agents should expect to

serve at such a post approxi-

mately once per decade.

Prior to 2001, an unaccom-

panied posting generally

happened only once over the

course of an agent’s career.

Amb. Stephenson and

Mr. Starr also discussed

the critical issue of risk

management, and how vital

it is for members of Emer-

gency Action Committees at

overseas posts to be involved

in assessing and mitigating

risk to effectively and safely

conduct U.S. diplomacy.

“The priority of the

Foreign Service must be

to implement U.S. foreign

policy,” he said, and to do

that you must be able to

weigh and manage risk.

Drawing on his experience

as the United Nations Under-

Secretary-General for Safety

and Security, Mr. Starr

helped to institute the Vital

Presence Validation Process

(known as VP2) at State.

VP2 is a repeatable and

transparent method to make

risk-managed decisions

regarding U.S. presence at

missions which have been

designated as “high-threat.”

A VP2 analysis must be

undertaken annually by high

Former Assistant Secretary Gregory Starr (left) at an event continuing the

conversation about how to secure diplomacy. Moderated by AFSA President

Ambassador Barbara Stephenson (right), the conversation was followed by a

Q&A session.

Continued on page 56


threat posts, and weighs

U.S. policy against risks in

a particular location, taking

staffing and resources into


Mr. Starr recommended

that VP2 reports be made

available to all posts—even

those not considered high

threat—so that staff mem-