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F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / J U LY - A U G U S T 2 0 1 2
USAID, the report recommend-
ed increasing staff by 1,250 posi-
tions above 2008 levels by Fiscal
Year 2014, the cost of which
would be partially offset by the
conversion of 700 personal service
contractors and other short-term
American staff to permanent
Foreign Service positions.
In the area of reconstruction
and stabilization, the report rec-
ommended providing a substan-
tial surge capacity of 562 per-
sonnel in various capacities. Before, during and since
the drafting of the report there has been a continuing
discussion of whether the U.S. needs such capacities,
whether the requirements of Iraq and Afghanistan were
aberrations that can be put behind us, and whether State
can or should revert to its “traditional” role — a view
heavily influenced by resistance to the Afghan and Iraqi
The idea that we can revert to older modes of diplo-
macy, however, overlooks the continuing record of other
interventions, of which Haiti, Kosovo and Bosnia are
only the latest examples. Another key element of that
debate is whether the Civilian Response Corps should
include dedicated language and area experts, in addition
to the functional experts currently engaged.
Ambassador William Farrand’s interesting new book,
Reconstruction and Peace Building in the Balkans: The
Brcko Experience
(Rowman & Littlefield, 2011) is a case
study of the skills the Foreign Service fails to impart to
officers before launching them to assume extensive re-
sponsibilities in a stabilization situation. There will be
more such situations, and a response corps, no matter
how constituted, cannot be the sole answer. In most
cases there will be embassies and officers already on the
ground that have to take charge.
Officers on the ground may not be fully trained to
handle the issues of justice, policing and reconciliation
common to stabilization and reconstruction operations.
But while every situation will have its peculiarities, they
should know, at a minimum, that some of them have
arisen before and lessons have been learned. There is no
reason to repeat painful mistakes.
Last year we built on the FAB concept with a follow-
up study,
Forging a 21st-Century Diplomatic Service for
the U.S. Through Professional Ed-
ucation and Training
. Launched
in February 2011, it focused
heavily on the fact that two-
thirds of current Foreign Service
personnel have entered since
9/11, and about half have joined
in the past five years.
The Value of
Professional Education
Under these conditions, our
old models of mentoring cannot
stretch far enough to provide the necessary training and
education. State works hard to select the best possible of-
ficers and offer them a broad menu of voluntary and
some required training for specific functions, as well as
leadership and language training. However, it has done
little to establish professional education. The difference
between education and training was summed up by a
military colleague as “We train for certainty. We educate
for uncertainty.”
Professional education in this sense means having the
opportunity to focus on larger issues beyond immediate
tasks, and thus to prepare for senior-level responsibili-
ties. (This is the function of the war colleges to which a
few State officers are assigned each year.) But with ever
increasing numbers of officers taking on more senior po-
sitions, and doing so with a shorter apprenticeship due
to rapid promotions, the need for serious professional ed-
ucation is growing. The same is true of efforts to expand
Foreign Service staff’s knowledge through required sys-
tematic training throughout their careers.
The 2011 report put forward a number of specific rec-
ommendations to address the rapidly changing interna-
tional environment and equip the Foreign Service to
meet new professional demands. State has already
adopted a few of those, but most of our proposals have hit
the wall of budgetary austerity — a challenge likely to
worsen before it improves.
Despite such pressures, the Foreign Service Institute
has continued to expand training opportunities, especially
in the Language and Leadership Schools, and courses to
prepare civilian personnel deploying to Afghanistan and
Iraq. It has also responded heroically to a flood of new
professional demands by creating new, short courses and
beefing up its commitment to distance learning. But
The American Academy
of Diplomacy continues to
push for the resources
required to advance
professional development
within the Foreign Service.