View Full Version : RC to the rescue ... again

John T. Fishel
04-23-2009, 12:35 PM
The WP article posted on the blog today that talks about calling RC troops to fill the civilian slots needed in Afghanistan until the bureaucracy can recruit enough is yet another case of back to the future. The issue is one we faced in planning for post conflict reconstruction in Panama in 89 and in executing Operation Promote Libety in 89 and 90. (we also faced it in the Gilf War). Clearly, the people exist in the RC - especially in CA units and among RC FAOs. The mechanisms for calling them to active duty voluntarily and involuntarily exist as well. Obviously, since there is a state of emergency, we can call individuals up for as much as 2 years - units too - and the voluntary mechanism is "voluntary recall to active duty" for up to 4 years (my onw penultimate active duty status). As far as working in civies and for DOS, not a problem. I recall the DCM in Panama telling us (the US forces Liaison Group) to get out of our uniforms and into civilian clothes which we all did with much pleasure. Working for State also has plenty of precedent in any Embassy the DAO and SAO work for the Ambasssador as did the Ministerial Support Treams that we pioneered in Panama and later used in Kuwait, Haiti, and Iraq.



04-30-2009, 02:06 AM
I think this effort misses the mark. I'm underwhelmed with the quality of CA personnel for missions like this, and I think the CRC is overemphasizing "experts". We have too many "experts" to begin with. What we need are agile minds that are culturally aware, with a practitioner background.

And I'm 100% certain that the Army is unequipped to select the right personnel to do this.

Despite the press, is ANYONE aware of where one signs up for this? Or will recruitment require a secret handshake of some sort.

Steve the Planner
04-30-2009, 09:50 PM
120 mm:

The easy way to tell what DoS/USAID are doing for AfPak is through the "USAJobs" website. If it didn't get posted their, it ain't happening.

To date, there have been no civilian expert or practitioner positions posted for these assignments, so I wouldn't hold my breathe if I was on the ground waiting for assistance.

Once advertised, DoS's hiring process takes months of paperwork, essays and investigation. Then, the background checks and pre-deployment training.

There is no DoS quick list in existence of prior experts (say from Iraq). They just do it one assignment at a time, and each new assignment requires the same applications, background checks, etc...

The hundred or so DoS practitioner/experts in Iraq (hired as 13 mo. temporary assignees known as 3161's based on the hiring provision), all took six months or so to complete the application/background check/hiring/ pre-deployment process. And, because there is no ready or standby force, all have to do the same thing all over again---from scratch.

Pretty stupid but that's why, when DoS comments about the civilian mission, they always talk in terms of late summer or end of year. Experts were supposed to be a one-time thing for Iraq, so they never established a process for them. Just ad hoc. One at a time.

Go figure?


Ken White
04-30-2009, 10:58 PM
the Federal hiring, training, retaining and firing efforts of the US Government. Civil service Laws and OPM are an even greater exposition of good intentions creating unintended consequences than is the Tax Code.

You'd think there'd be provisions for declarations of emergency conditions and broader authorities. You'd think...

State (or DoD -- any federal agency) and OPM are not blameless but the bulk of the failure is directly attributable to Congress. Congress and the American penchant for 'centralization' of management efforts which always takes the personal out of personnel...

Add to that the irony that, IIRC, some hiring practices were tightened by Congress during and immediately after Viet Nam because of alleged abuses in the CORDS program.

I, of course, would never suggest that State would attempt to obfuscate, stall, low ball, delay or be obtuse to avoid missions they'd rather not do in the future by making things difficult today. Never apply to conspiracy what is likely stupidity. I do know that most senior people would not do that (seriously). I'm not so sure about the mid level folks. During my own silly service time, I was amazed at the concern some of my fellow mid levels had for things they thought their boss or his / her boss might want...

Bad as the Army. :D

Steve the Planner
05-01-2009, 01:07 AM

Bureacratic Malaise might be the best term.

CPA/IRMO/ITAO stumbled through Iraq under the constant belief that they were just very short-term organizations.

As a result, the actual State Department seldom got engaged, and certainly did not institutionalize a process for reconstruction.

The new reconstruction corps seems to be primarily staffed with foreign service officers and in-house staff, so I assume it will be, when established, a proper entity with some level of continuity. I understand from their website that it only engages federal assignees from other agencies, so I'm not sure how successful it can be on the ground.

A recent Newsweek article "The A-Team in Blue Suits" described how a reconstruction staff member (a foreign service officer assignee) hit the ground in Afghanistan for three months, built a police substation, and negotiated some agreements with local leaders.

Unfortunately, that sounds like what was going on in Iraq---drop in for a short tour, nail some short-term low-hanging fruit, and move on... Not a great way to rebuild an actual nation in conflict, is it?

Gotta be a better way to do this. It seems like we have plenty of reasons for why we do it this way, but no examples that show that doing it this way can be successful.

I was seconded to UN for a few months, and noticed that they use experts on a continuous basis. They come, say from a university, every summer and whenever there is a crisis or problem in their sphere. Same expert with continuum of contacts and experience. Not to speak to the UN's capabiolities generally, but this seems like a very smart way tooperate with experts.