View Full Version : Diplomats Will Be Shifted to Hot Spots

01-19-2006, 06:55 AM
19 Jan. Washington Post - Diplomats Will Be Shifted to Hot Spots (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/18/AR2006011801937.html).

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday that she will shift hundreds of Foreign Service positions from Europe and Washington to difficult assignments in the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere as part of a broad restructuring of the diplomatic corps that she has dubbed "transformational diplomacy."

The State Department's culture of deployment and ideas about career advancement must alter now that the Cold War is over and the United States is battling transnational threats of terrorism, drug smuggling and disease, Rice said in a speech at Georgetown University. "The greatest threats now emerge more within states than between them," she said. "The fundamental character of regimes now matters more than the international distribution of power."

As part of the change in priorities, Rice announced that diplomats will not be promoted into the senior ranks unless they accept assignments in dangerous posts, gain expertise in at least two regions and are fluent in two foreign languages, citing Chinese, Urdu and Arabic as a few preferred examples...

Separately, today Rice plans to unveil a restructuring of U.S. foreign assistance, including announcing the nomination of Randall L. Tobias as the new administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Officials said Rice plans to elevate the USAID post, giving Tobias -- a former Eli Lilly chief executive who now heads the administration's global AIDS relief program -- an office and a planning staff in the State Department. Rice will designate Tobias as having a rank equivalent of deputy secretary of state.

Although the move stops short of merging USAID with State, it is intended to draw the agency closer into the department's fold...

19 Jan. Washington Times - U.S. to Boost Envoy Posts in Asia, Africa (http://www.washtimes.com/world/20060118-115917-7150r.htm).

The United States will shift hundreds of its diplomats from Washington and Europe to emerging countries over the next few years as part of a broad reconfiguration of the Foreign Service and its mission, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday.

Miss Rice said U.S. envoys would be asked to spend less time on traditional diplomacy -- monitoring political developments and talking to officials -- and more time traveling outside the capitals "to help foreign citizens better their own lives."

The State Department employs about 6,400 Foreign Service officers, about one-third of whom are stationed in Washington, one senior official said...

The phrase "transformational diplomacy," the secretary said, means working "to build and sustain democratic, well-governed states that will respond to the needs of their people and conduct themselves responsibly in the international system."...

19 Jan. New York Times - Rice to Group Foreign Aid in One Office in State Dept. (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/19/politics/19aid.html).

In a shake-up of the foreign aid bureaucracy, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice plans to set up an office under her direct supervision to oversee agencies and bureaus that dispense $19 billion each year, State Department officials said Wednesday.

Randall L. Tobias, a former pharmaceutical executive and Republican campaign donor who heads the administration's anti-AIDS assistance program for poor countries, is expected to be named Thursday as the new administrator of the Agency for International Development and director of the new coordination office.

A.I.D. has been an independent agency since it was founded in 1961, but Ms. Rice has made little secret of her frustration over what she has said is a lack of accountability. In addition, foreign aid has been parceled out to numerous other offices that do not coordinate with A.I.D...

In a speech on Wednesday at Georgetown University, Ms. Rice said that as part of her goal of "transformational diplomacy" - seeking ways of stabilizing democracies in troubled regions - the department would move hundreds of staff members from Europe and Washington to China, India, Nigeria, Lebanon and other developing countries. Instead of working out of embassies, she said, diplomats may work out of regional centers or in remote areas.

Ms. Rice also said she would expand the office that is supposed to deal with reconstruction of countries after wars and other upheavals. State Department officials said this action was aimed at avoiding the mistakes of providing too little aid too late in Iraq after the ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003...

01-31-2006, 07:16 AM
31 Jan. Washington Times commentary - Change at Foggy Bottom (http://www.washtimes.com/op-ed/20060130-093109-2098r.htm).

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently announced bold State Department transformation plans. The secretary called for, among other things, a global repositioning of diplomatic personnel and recalibration of the agency's mission. The plans will surely stir the hornet's nest.

Career Foreign Service Officers (FSOs), who handle the bulwark of U.S. diplomatic activity, have a notorious record in resisting change and the legitimacy of presidential and congressional control and direction...

Believing current diplomatic staffing is not attuned to contemporary geopolitical realities, Miss Rice would like to eventually shift several hundred FSO positions -- most from desk jobs in Washington and comfortable assignments in Europe -- to less desirable but more important posts in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere. The secretary expects the change will enhance the promotion of American values; help build democracy and prosperity; and fight terrorism, disease and human trafficking.

Unfortunately, her plans will likely encounter difficulty. Presidents and secretaries of state since Franklin D. Roosevelt have learned that FSOs and the American Foreign Service Association, the sole bargaining agent for the 23,000 active and retired FSOs, are more apt to reject, rather than embrace, reform plans and the legitimacy of foreign-policy direction received from elected and appointed officials...

It's apparent to many outsiders that the department must make fundamental changes to the institution and culture and implement new strategies to effectively cope with daunting 21st-century national-security and foreign-policy challenges. It's about time the folks at Foggy Bottom realized it too.

02-02-2006, 10:23 PM
Regardless of where personnel are deployed/stationed, the Department of State will continue to stand behind the Department of Defense, rather than beside as an equal partner, until it decides to expand its core mission beyond the core tasks of negotiate, represent, and report. Further, the continued process of awarding political appointees with the best positions, while exiling the "best and brightest" of the FSO to back-water countries needs revision.