The Foreign Service Journal - December 2017

28 DECEMBER 2017 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL To regularize promotion procedures and make themmore transparent, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has established Assessment and Development Centers, which admin- ister a mix of written and interactive exercises focused mainly on management and leadership. Similarly, Turkey requires merito- cratic examinations between the sixth and ninth years of service. In all eight countries ambassadorial posts are almost entirely reserved for career diplomats. Most ambassadors to key posts have prior experience as ambassadors, speak the local language fluently and have served in senior levels in their home ministries. The contrast between the professional standards of these countries and the U.S. practice of assigning political appointees to key posts is conspicuous. Lessons for the United States? We did not include the U.S. Foreign Service in our multicoun- try survey deliberately, fearing that doing so might lead us to judge everything against the U.S. experience. We also hesitated to draw sweeping conclusions about which practices are most relevant or most deserving of emulation by the United States. A “best practice” in one country is not necessarily best for another. There are many areas in which the U.S. Foreign Service excels. It recruits a highly talented group of entering officers, whose composition is more diverse than that of other services we stud- ied. These rising diplomats acquire strong regional and language skills along the way, and they typically have a mix of postings that help them acquire a global perspective. Another strength of the U.S. system, often mentioned by foreign diplomats with admiration and envy, is the presence at the senior working level of many “irregulars” who come in from academia, think-tanks or law firms to take up staff positions at National Security Council, National Economic Council, policy planning staff and elsewhere. (Of course, this practice has the disadvantage of displacing FSOs who might have aspired to those same positions.) Yet, compared to many of the services we studied, America’s diplomatic corps is disadvantaged at the entry level and again at the senior level. At entry level, officers are given a mere five weeks of orientation in the A-100 course, involving no serious substantive training. Then it may take several years before they Entry-Level Training in the Indian Foreign Service India’s practice is unique among those diplomatic services we studied. New Indian diplomats are drawn from the highly selective Indian Civil Service examina- tion process. Indian Foreign Service candidates are recruited alongside domestic counterparts such as the Indian Administrative Service, and their training begins with civil servants from across ministries and levels of government. IFS officers subsequently undertake almost two additional years of training on top of the instruction they received as civil service recruits, including extensive rotations throughout the central government’s minis- tries, as well as military attachments. Their training also includes innovative features meant to ensure that Indian diplomats are well-connected to their country at the grass roots level: for example, a 10-day trek in the Himalayas followed by a 12-day visit to a remote village and the Bharat Darshan (view of India), a tour of major cultural, commercial and historical sites. Brazil has an analogous but less extensive practice whereby officers spend time in various states to experience something of the diversity of their country. —From“Developing Diplomats: Comparing Form and Culture Across Diplomatic Services,” Country Report: India, 97-116. LaurieJonesaka ljonesimagesonFlickr [CCBY-SA2.0],viaWikimediaCommons The North Block of the Indian Secretariat Building, which houses the Ministry of External Affairs.