count on the presence of talented American diplomats nearly
everywhere. The best example is that of Robert Murphy, the
illustrious American diplomat who was on the ground in North
Africa before and after we invaded. Dozens of State and USAID
FSOs served in combat zones in Vietnam, some paying for that
service with their lives. Those of us who served behind the
Iron Curtain, in the Balkans, Africa, Central America and other
tough places have similar stories of working solo or alongside
our military in dangerous places. One Army officer commented
that nothing creates credibility and cements respect among the
military more than an FSO who “shares the mud” with them.
Nature Abhors a Vacuum
Fast forward to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The State
Department was not just slow in deploying capable personnel to
these two war zones, leaving the military to fend for itself in devel-
oping governance and restarting economies, but faced strong
internal opposition to participating alongside the military—which
only accelerated the militarization of foreign policy.
The year 2007 was angst-filled for the Foreign Service. “An
Uneasy Partnership—The Foreign Service and the Military”
was the focus of theMarch Foreign Service Journal .
Journalended the year
with a cover story questioning whether State
was still in charge of its embassies. As Iraq’s security situation
worsened from 2005 to 2007, the need for Foreign Service tal-
ent had increased.
When I came on board in January 2007 as State’s deputy
assistant secretary (DAS) for Iraq, we urgently needed to staff
15 new provincial reconstruction teams, one for each of the
brigade combat teams being sent to the country. In addition to
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
The proliferation of
activities that pander to U.S.
domestic special interests and
divert resources from other
work, and whose effectiveness
cannot easily be measured,
is one aspect of the creeping
irrelevance of American diplo-
macy. This problem has been
compounded by the Foreign
Service’s apparent unwilling-
ness or inability to work with
the U.S. military when they
need us the most.
Missing in Action
Since retiring in 2013 from my position as the civilian
deputy to the commander of EUCOM, I occasionally help
prepare American military units to deal with U.S. embassies
in operations abroad. This brings me into contact with officers
getting ready to go back to the Middle East and Afghanistan,
as well as Europe. At an event earlier this year, I was talking to
a Marine heading to a task force operating in western Iraq. He
knew I had served as a foreign policy adviser (POLAD) in Iraq,
and complained that he did not think there would be a State
Department officer out with his task force. He outlined all the
(civilian) areas where such a person was needed to advise and
guide the task force.
Listening in was a two-star Army general, a battalion com-
mander in Afghanistan in the early years of that conflict. He noted
the absence of the State Department in his province at that time,
and explained how valuable POLADs and State-led provincial
reconstruction teams (PRTs) had been to him later on in Iraq.
One of my duties at EUCOMwas to ensure we were as sup-
portive of our embassies as possible, going so far as to develop our
theater and country plans based on each embassy’s Integrated
Country Strategy. We extended invitations to ambassadors and
deputy chiefs of mission to visit, as well as arranging regional
gatherings to develop personal relationships we could draw on in
times of crisis. (“You cannot surge trust” is a military adage.)
Yet not every embassy seemed to see the value in investing
time with EUCOM. In one case, an important Nordic embassy
did not find it convenient to participate in a regional tabletop
exercise designed to help us think about how we would defend
the Baltic republics in the event of Russian aggression.
During World War II and the Cold War, the military could
A group of foreign policy advisers
(POLADs) with Commander of
the U.S. European Command
Admiral James Stavridis at the U.S.
European Command’s Component
Commander’s Conference in Naples
on Jan. 11, 2013. First row, from left:
the late Jonita Whitaker, U.S.
Naval Forces Europe POLAD;
Adm. Stavridis; Lee MacTaggart, U.S.
Marine Forces Europe POLAD; Greg
Marchese, U.S. Special Operations
Command Europe POLAD. Second
row, from left: Colonel Pat Hoffman,
XO to Amb. Butler; Matt Boyse, U.S.
Army Europe POLAD; Brent Bohne,
U.S. Air Force Europe POLAD; and
Ambassador Larry Butler, U.S.
European Command POLAD.