The Foreign Service Journal - June 2017
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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 the

March Foreign Service Journal .



ended 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



JUNE 2017


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.