The Foreign Service Journal - September 2014 - page 10

The association also worked
with the department to find
creative solutions for those
officers who were in temporary
duty limbo between overseas
assignments. Those efforts broke
the logjam for more than 1,000
Foreign Service officers and spe-
cialists awaiting promotions and
tenure, and helped smooth the way
for progress on individual confirma-
I have been at post for a month now,
and remain honored and humbled to
serve my country here. I owe a debt of
thanks to a very long list of people who
helped me along the way.
However, in this time of politi-
cal polarization, the importance of an
organization to advocate for those who
have dedicated their lives and careers to
the service of America’s national security
interests has never been greater. AFSA is
fulfilling that vital role.
Brian A. Nichols
Embassy Lima
Irreplaceable Reporting
Having reported from embassies in
Vietnam, Korea and the Congo at critical
junctures, I read
political and economic reporting with
intense interest. I was glad for the chance
to find out how technology has affected
the reporting process in the 29 years
since my retirement. I was also grateful
for the issue’s affirmation of the continu-
ing importance of reporting officers.
Two things, however, appeared not
to be included. One was identification
of the essence of overseas reporting. The
other was why reporting from Foreign
Service posts has superior value. About
them I would say the following.
Overseas reporting consists essen-
The Weight of Waiting
Three hundred and sixty. It’s a nice
round number, but a long time to wait
when counting the days. I had the honor
of being nominated as the U.S. ambas-
sador to Peru in June 2013 and was con-
firmed in June 2014—360 days later.
During that year, I heard a lot about
the unprecedented political and proce-
dural battles in the Senate that saw some
250 executive branch nominees wait end-
lessly for confirmation.
Secretary of State John Kerry, the
Bureau of Legislative Affairs and many
senior State Department officials advo-
cated for us—first behind the scenes and
then very vocally. Individual senators, in
my own case two superb Rhode Island
home-state senators, did everything they
could to be supportive.
However, the disputes on the Hill
often appeared intractable. The wait took
a major toll on my family and on U.S.
foreign relations. As I write this, there are
still numerous highly qualified career
officers awaiting confirmation for posi-
tions overseas and in Washington.
Those who might doubt the signifi-
cance of the American Foreign Service
Association’s decision to confront this
problem should know that AFSA con-
tinues to play a vital role advocating for
some three dozen career ambassado-
rial nominees waiting for confirmation.
Through its network of contacts and
vigorous advocacy, AFSA has engaged
numerous congressional staff, senators
and department officials to promote a
In my case, AFSA provided invalu-
able advice on time-in-class regulations,
allowances, tactics and options. AFSA
also mobilized key constituencies like
businesses and civil society to advocate
for the critical work of ambassadors and
senior officials.
tially of taking the
welter of data assail-
ing one in such a
setting and relating
it to an underlying
theme, giving it
coherence in place
of confusion. This
theme needs to
emerge from the
data themselves rather than being
imposed from outside. Allowing it to
emerge entails risks. But only through its
emergence does reporting become truly
policy-relevant—and likely to be read.
As for the superior value of reporting
from overseas posts, reporting officers
have been entrusted with the interests of
the United States in a way that journalists
and others have not.
It should be noted that the disciplines
of reporting have further applications.
With those skills, I’ve been able to widely
share my analyses of developments in the
worldwide Anglican Communion.
And they have enabled me to write
the forthcoming book,
Theology and the
Disciplines of the Foreign Service
, which
is concerned with the major contribu-
tion that such disciplines can make to
The Rev. Theodore L. Lewis
FSO and FSR, retired
Germantown, Md.
Education on the SAT
Thanks to the
and always-excel-
lent author and all-around-nice-person
ents like us with children just departing
middle school
Joe Costantino
Information Management Specialist
Embassy Ljubljana
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