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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

|

OCTOBER 2016

15

Nothing to Fear

T

he July [1966] editorial on the

“Rationale of Selection Out” is

a moderate, diplomatically phrased

and well-reasoned rebuttal of Mr.

Walters’ demand for Civil Service

standards and security for those

involved in foreign affairs responsi-

bilities.

Having been subjected for some

25 years to “insecurity” and “com-

petition,” which according to Mr. Wal-

ters must have by this time extin-

guished any professional standards

I may have possessed, and having

survived some 19 Selection Boards

despite frequent policy differences

with Washington, many unpopular

and often unaccepted recommen-

dations and a number of sharp

disagreements with my superiors

(including an ambassador currently

serving in the most critical post we

have abroad), I think I am qualified

to call a spade a spade as far as the

Foreign Service personnel system is

concerned, and this I shall do.

No one who puts security very

high on their job requirement list

should choose a career in foreign

affairs. However, if a young officer

wants to serve his country in the

most challenging and fascinating

area of its operations, and if he has

the professional pride and ambition

to do his best and take what comes,

there is nothing to fear from either

the Selection Out system currently

in use or the new development

Appraisal Report. Perhaps there are

in Government service “vindictive

superiors” and those “prejudiced”

in their judgments, but I have yet

to run across

such base-

ness among

my superiors

or colleagues.

If anything, we

are too soft, too

lenient in the appraisal of a man’s

worth and potential.

The only realistic alternative to

our present Selection Out system

would seem to be the adoption of

the military “up or out” criteria.

Since this operates more or less

automatically and thus eliminates

much of the stigma of “selection

out”—and in the process a great

deal of “dead wood”—it is certainly

worth considering. Reduced to

military terms this would mean,

illustratively, mandatory retirement

for CAs at 60, CMs at 58, FSO-1s at

55, FSO-2s at 52, FSO-3s at 50, etc.

Would this be more acceptable to

Mr. Walters and other opponents of

Selection Out? I doubt it.

I am convinced that the really

competent and dedicated officers

in AID, USIS and State covered by

the Hays Bill will find the Foreign

Service personnel system assuring a

far greater recognition of excellence

than they have ever known before.

Those possessing proven abilities

and leadership will go up; those who

do not will be eliminated as pain-

lessly as possible from an area of

government activities too critical

to our national survival to harbor

mediocrity.

—David G. Nes, Cairo,

from his Letter to the Editor

in the October 1966

FSJ

.

50 Years Ago