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  1. Some good points on both sides of this argument

    Military bases are like schools in that they are both gun free zones. This means that a terrorist or a lunatic could do a lot of damage before security forces arrive on scene. I work in a secure...
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    He's now General Raziq

    General Raziq remains the Warlord of Spin Boldak. His right hand man was killed in an 07 Jan 2011 suicide bombing in a Spin Boldak bath house that also killed 16 civilians. Per the request of the...
  3. Some semi-related comments from a Tucson resident

    The media is making too big a deal of this. It was a tragedy, and I strongly hope that Congresswoman Giffords makes a full recovery and runs for Governor so that we can have some responsible...
  4. Nomination of Larry Palmer for Ambassador to Venezuela

    This link has a detailed explanation of what happened with the Venezuela nomination:

    http://americasquarterly.org/node/2058
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    Political Whackiness

    I sometimes worry that we have reached the point where a politician who came out and said the biggest threat to U.S. National Security is posed by "Mexican Muslims who want to use anchor babies to...
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    The latest edition of Der Spiegel has an article...

    The latest edition of Der Spiegel has an article that reiterates the argument that development aid does more harm than good by fostering dependency:...
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    Foreign Service Culture

    Speaking from an insider perspective, the real problem with the Foreign Service is cultural. At the individual level, I would guess that somewhere between 50-75 percent of FSOs are hoping that Iraq...
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    Maj Custis: See my private message for POC...

    Maj Custis:

    See my private message for POC info on the Senior USMC representative at State.
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    Comments on Arghandab and Army Times article

    @Maj Custis:

    In response to your last post:

    I'll leave it to Bruce Rolston to respond to your request for bio information, but I want to say that I consider him to be the most authoritative...
  10. Water is a complex and sensitive issue in southern Afghanistan

    During my year at the Kandahar PRT, the PRT Commander declined to approve several water projects proposed by the PRT CIMIC (Civil Affairs) Section. He pointed out that the PRT did not have hydrology...
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    Comments about Zabul Province

    There seems to be a competition for bragging rights as the poorest province in Afghanistan. Bagdhis Province in RC-West has also claimed the title. I imagine that a few other provinces could also...
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    Recruitment of civilians and duties of PRT officers

    Steve:

    Your previous question about recruitment of civilians in Afghanistan is a good one, but the DOS PRT officer is supposed to be a political officer rather than a development expert. His (or...
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    Narrative for FS Oral Exam

    Schmedlap:

    I would suggest that you stress some of the following issues:
    1. experience in foreign countries
    2. interaction with foreigners and understanding of foreign cultures
    3. ...
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    A few more comments

    To make a military analogy about the State Department reaction: suppose Mr. Hoh was a Company Commander in the 2nd MEB in Helmand and decided that the war sucked and notified his chain of command...
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    Strange Reaction

    I have to admit I had a Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moment when I read this article on the net last night, and then saw it again this morning on the front page of the Washington Post. If I threaten to...
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    Median age of new FSOs

    When I entered the Foreign Service in 1987 the median age in my class was about 30. I don't have any figures on recent classes but I suspect that it is in the mid to late 30's range.
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    FSO personnel system

    The upper age limit is 58, I believe, although it may be a little higher, I'm not completely sure. I think the rationale is that this limit allows a person enough time to gain tenure before facing...
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    Language Tests

    Foreign Service Institute (FSI) language tests measure speaking and reading ability, with separate numerical scores for each. For example, 3/3 is usually the grade sought after completing FSI...
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    Steve: I think the decision brief would be...

    Steve:

    I think the decision brief would be slimmed down to 40 slides with 150 back up slides.:wry:
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    Evolution of the Taliban

    I have to disagree with the contention that the Taliban are basically no different from any other insurgent group in past history. I believe that T.X. Hammes is on to something, especially his point...
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    Population Control

    The problem with employing standard population control measures in Afghanistan is that they would quickly annoy Afghans and increase hostility towards foreign forces. Pashtuns do not like to be...
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    Interesting Video

    Some thoughts on the video and comments in response to previous posts:

    The NCO getting frustrated in his questioning of villagers was set up for failure. That task should have been left to a CA...
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    It makes me cringe

    when I hear about "drive-by" ultimatums to Afghan villagers to cooperate with coalition forces or else lose assistance. The obvious rebuttal from the Afghan side - which I actually heard voiced once...
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    Development Issues in Afghanistan

    Steve:

    I don't have any answers on how to get to success in development. All I can offer are some observations about why it is appears to be such a challenge.

    1. Intellectual Capital: A...
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    The Situation in Kandahar

    Kandahar has never had much of a coalition force presence and until recently was ignored by ISAF. There is a Canadian PRT camp in the northeastern part of the city, with a mech infantry company as...
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