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The Indian Example

India is particularly active in using the

Indian Foreign Service Institute to engage

foreign diplomats. New Delhi main-

tains cooperation agreements with 59

countries. The institute, which has been

preparing Indian diplomats since 1986,

has trained approximately 1,500 foreign

diplomats since 1992.

While on the India desk, I worked with

South Asia Area Studies Chair Dr. Kiran

Pervez at our own FSI and the Embassy

of India inWashington, D.C., to build

connections and share best practices with

India’s FSI. Even without a formal agree-

ment, we were able to build some familiar-

ity between the two institutions.

We exchanged syllabi from courses

such as A-100, the ambassadorial semi-

nar and economic tradecraft. We learned,

for example, that during their equivalent

of A-100, Indian diplomats travel to army

bases to experience military culture and

are assigned a home state to stay in touch

with during their careers.

We arranged reciprocal visits by

instructors and diplomats. Under Sec-

retary of State Tom Shannon delivered

a speech at India’s FSI to a graduating

class of Indian diplomats. The head

of the Indian FSI’s economics depart-

ment visited us in Arlington, Va., while

on a personal trip to the United States.

He was impressed by the amount of

economic theory taught to U.S. officers,

and expressed an interest in digital

video conference (DVC) lectures by U.S.

instructors. The cooperation was helpful

enough to the bilateral relationship to

be publicized in the 2015 Strategic and

Commercial Dialogue by Secretary of

State John Kerry and Indian External

Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

After a year of coordinating these

exchanges, I was invited by India’s FSI to

join 30 other diplomats in its 61st Profes-

sional Course for Foreign Diplomats. I was

the first American in the course, as India

traditionally invites participants from

developing countries. It was an incredible

opportunity to learn about the country and

gain new perspectives on tradecraft and

international relations.

What FSI Can Do

So what can the department do? To

start, FSI could designate a point person

to answer initial queries fromposts or

bureaus about cooperation with foreign

counterparts. At little cost, it can share

syllabi and best practices with other dip-

lomatic academies, including those from

the Center for the Study of the Conduct

of Diplomacy. FSI can also encourage

introductory visits by foreign diplomats in

Washington and officials fromoverseas.

Foreign diplomats could join simula-

tion exercises in person or by DVC, follow-

ing the example of FSI’s Crisis Manage-

ment division. FSI instructors can visit

counterparts during international travel.

Posts can engage host-country academies,

offering to speak in courses or arrange

DVC sessions with FSI instructors. Posts

could use public diplomacy tools such as

IVLP or Voluntary Visitor programs to help

diplomats visit FSI.

Eventually, the department might

establish dedicated training programs at

FSI. This will require dealing with funding,

security and other concerns, of course. The

primary mission of FSI is to train U.S. offi-

cials, but Congress has already authorized

State to train foreign diplomats in a 1994

amendment to the Foreign Service Act.

In fact, FSI has run limited programs

for diplomats from Iraq, Afghanistan and

the former communist countries. FSI

could send staff to foreign capitals for

assessments or short courses, the way the

military deploys trainers. Staff can also be

detailed to counterpart academies, the way

FSOs are posted to foreignministries as

Trans-Atlantic Diplomatic Fellows.

Although the current fiscal environ-

ment is difficult, the FSI budget could

accommodate such programs if they were

a priority for the department. Regional

bureaus and foreign governments could

share some costs; the Egyptian govern-

ment, for example, has sent several

classes of new diplomats to visit FSI.

Outreach to Diasporas

A second area where FSI could domore

is in engaging diasporas within the United

States. As Americans who care deeply

about foreign affairs and who are often

active in engaging Congress, diasporas are

dependable allies. They are also important

bridges to their countries of origin. The

department can empower them to expand

trade and tourism, clarify U.S. consular

and immigration rules, and improve opin-

ion about the United States abroad.

Historically, the department has been

cautious about domestic outreach, wary

of the Smith-Mundt Act, among other

factors. I would argue that the department

has paid a price for this in terms of missed

opportunities to partner with other Ameri-

cans and to raise its profile in Congress.

The Office of Global Partnerships and

regional bureaus have started to engage

diasporas, and department officials occa-

sionally travel domestically for meetings

and speeches. But FSI could expand these


I saw firsthand the benefits of diaspora

engagement while in Hindi-language

training. During our time in Washing-

ton, the Hindi students and instructors

engaged religious leaders and appeared

on an Indian-American TV talk show via

Skype. Our main outreach, however, was

through an immersion trip to New Jersey

and New York. These trips are primarily

intended for language practice, but we