Foreign Service Journal - November 2013 - page 10

Another great issue!
Thomas Boyatt, Susan Johnson, Ronald
Neumann andThomas Pickering deserve
kudos for continuing tomake the case
regarding the deterioration of the Foreign
Service’s role inmanaging U.S. foreign
the authors use to show the decrease in
Foreign Service officers occupying senior-
level positions certainly seem indisputable.
For those arguing against their thesis, I
would simply quote the late Senator Dan-
iel Moynihan, D-N.Y.: “Everyone is entitled
to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”
What the implications are may be debat-
able, but that is precisely what the authors
are calling for: a debate.
I am dismayed at some of the “water
cooler” talk about this issue emanating
from some of my colleagues who engage
in knee-jerk reactions without focus-
ing on the authors’ main points. While
I have come to terms with the apathy
in our ranks regarding AFSA’s efforts to
promote the Foreign Service, the out-
right hostility by some is shocking and
depressing.
I call on all my colleagues to heed the
authors’ clarion call by contributing to an
intelligent discussion about the issues they
have raised. After all, this is your organiza-
tion and profession.
WilliamBent
FSO
U.S. Embassy Kabul
Fix It!
During her four years as AFSA’s leader,
Susan Johnson thoughtfully devoted
several of her President’s Views columns
to exploring attributes of a military career
that could be helpful in strengthening
the Foreign Service. For instance, titles,
characterizing rank, are everything in the
armed forces, from image to assignments.
10
NOVEMBER 2013
|
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
Every military officer has a personal title
regularly used before his or her name. This
is how each one is known, both inside and
outside the service.
Inmy opinion, all Foreign Service
officers likewise deserve a personal title,
not just a number. This should be used
regularly in communications and included
on their security badges. The Foreign
Service Act of 1980 authorized titles for
its senior officers; regrettably, these are
seldomused. These, along with appro-
priate new titles for non-Senior Foreign
Service personnel, would reflect pride in a
diplomatic career.
Ms. Johnson also usedmany of her col-
umns to highlight unmet challenges pro-
gressively eroding traditional strengths of
the Foreign Service and stifling the morale
of its career officers. I’m therefore pleased
to see that she is continuing that effort after
leaving office, in concert with TomBoyatt,
Ron Neumann and TomPickering, in their
Considering the authors’ impressive
professional experience, however, I was
disappointed that nowhere in their article
do they offer specific steps to reverse
the deterioration they describe. True, in
their final paragraph they cite Secretary
of State John Kerry’s Foreign Service
background, and declare: “We believe
he is well placed to lead a fundamental
re-evaluation, and trust he will do so
expeditiously.”
That assessment is accurate, of course.
But taking into account the relevance of his
family andmilitary background, and his
years in the Senate, one can readily imag-
ine Secretary Kerry charging his senior
staff to “Fix it! I’ll help when you needme.”
John Fry
Minister-Counselor, retired
Annapolis, Md.
n
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