The Foreign Service Journal - December 2017

46 DECEMBER 2017 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL universities of the country can furnish. In its higher echelon the school will be a staff college, or center of higher studies. “Formal instruction will be given on the school premises itself, and the college will arrange for Foreign Service officers to work and consult at high levels, not only in the department but in any agency, business, research organization or university where possibilities exist for widening the background of the Foreign Service officer.” President Harry Truman signed the Foreign Service Act on Aug. 13, 1946, and it entered into force three months later. On March 13, 1947, the Foreign Service Institute opened its doors. FSI’s Early Years In its first incarnation, FSI was housed in the Mayfair Building at 2115 C Street NW in Washington, D.C. That was near the old War Building, which was about to become the center of State Department operations. The facility consisted of four schools: Basic Officer Training, Advanced Officer Training, Manage- ment and Administrative Training, and Language Training. In The U.S. Department of State: A Reference History (Greenwood Press, 1999), Elmer Plischke comments: “By 1949, the Institute provided an extensive menu of instruction, consisting of nearly 60 subjects and projects, of which more than 40 concentrated on management and administration topics, evidencing the need for greater technical expertise in this field.” Impressive as that curriculum was, it did not assuage Cold War concerns about the state of American diplomatic readiness. Such worries led Secretary of State John Foster Dulles to convene a “public committee on personnel” in January 1954. Chaired by Henry Wriston, president of Brown University, the commit- tee moved quickly, obtaining Secretary Dulles’ approval of its sweeping recommendations less than six months later. Wristonization, as the process of implement- ing the panel’s action plan became known, unfolded rapidly. Within three years the Foreign Service had more than doubled in size to 3,436 officers—an influx that placed a lot of pressure on FSI, both in terms of workload and facilities. In 1955 the Mayfair Building underwent a com- plete renovation, and the training program was revitalized as well, with new, shorter courses and longer specialized training. In addition, courses were opened to wives for the first time. The new program included three periods of concentrated, full-time training: for new officers, those in mid-career and senior officers. There was consistent emphasis on improving language skills. Debate continued, however, over training needs—the amount and timing of training, who should be trained and how best to do it all. Even as FSI grew, Plischke notes, “Thought was also devoted to creating a National Academy of Foreign Affairs for more advanced training, to supplement [the] Foreign Service Institute. In 1961 a special committee submitted a report to Sec- retary [of State Dean] Rusk, which recommended the establish- ment of such an Academy for additional training at the highest level, to include instruction, research and leadership of all governmental education programs and to deal with ‘the delicate dynamic of democratic strategy.’” Legislation was introduced in 1963 to found such an acad- emy, but it languished in Congress following hearings in the Sen- ate Foreign Relations Committee and was never reintroduced. The 1960s Era As the U.S. military presence in Vietnam continued to grow by leaps and bounds throughout the 1960s, so, too, did the Foreign Service presence there. By 1968, nearly every unmarried male junior FSO who had not performed active-duty military service was automatically sent to Vietnam for his first tour, whether or not he had requested the assignment. That dramatic ramping-up of demand for Vietnamese lan- guage training seriously strained FSI’s capacity. In “The Foreign Service Institute after 20 Years” ( November 1966 Department of State News Letter , No. 67), FSI Director George V. Allen acknowl- edged the scope of the task: “It must be remembered that classes in hard languages, for example, must be limited to six—or, in exceptional cases, eight—students each; and when we are teaching over 165 students in Vietnamese alone (at present), a lot of classrooms, a lot of language booths and a lot of teachers Staff and students participate in a crisis simulation in the EdTech Immersive Learning Environment at FSI. U.S.FOREIGNSERVICE INSTITUTE