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  1. #1
    Groundskeeping Dept. SWCAdmin's Avatar
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    DC area pogue.

    Default Insights on DOS / country team culture?

    I received this request via email:

    I am in the military and do a lot of work with country teams (DOS), is there a book you recommend that really goes into DOS culture, how they think and the way they strategize?
    Nothing immediately leapt to mind as being really deep on the matter, though a number of things give tangential insights. Can anyone think of a good recommendation, or just care to wax lyrically here?

  2. #2
    Council Member
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    Feb 2007
    Rancho La Espada, Blanchard, OK

    Default Ambassador Edward Perkins

    published a memoir called Mr. Ambassador, OU Press in 2007 or 8 more or less. I haven't read it but I suspect it does give a view of the Contry Team.



  3. #3
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    We had a saying out at SOCPAC: "If you've seen one Country Team, you've seen one Country Team."
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  4. #4
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    Rancho La Espada, Blanchard, OK

    Default I like that Bob

    How true it is. Still, there are common elements.

    What I'm really waiting for is Tom Odom and Stan to chime in on this.



  5. #5
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    Default Possible Book

    Former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James Dobbins has written a book about this time in country which might be useful.

  6. #6
    Council Member CR6's Avatar
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    Sep 2006

    Default not about a country team, but

    Robert Earle's Nights in Pink Motel highlights how DOS worked with DOD personnel in Iraq in the '04-'05 period. Earle was Ambassador Negroponte's "thinker" (read strategist) on Iraq. While more memoir than proceedural it has some good insights on DOS culture and approach to strategy.
    Last edited by CR6; 02-09-2009 at 02:12 PM. Reason: spelling
    "Law cannot limit what physics makes possible." Humanitarian Apsects of Airpower (papers of Frederick L. Anderson, Hoover Institution, Stanford University)

  7. #7
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    Rocky Mtn Empire

    Default Can you spell unik? uniqe? One of a kind?

    Bob's point is too true. Been a member of four of them and each one was truly different. There are many reasons for this, but at the center is the fact that the ambassador is the president's (not DOS') rep in country and can do things pretty much however he/she wants. Instead of more specifics, I think I'll simply recommend The Special Forces Advisors' Reference Book by Research Planning, Inc. Think it was a contract for USASOC and may require AKO access. Some of the info is dated and there are a coupla inaccuracies, but overall, a good effort. Maybe Max 161 can secure a copy.

  8. #8
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Hey Bob,
    A brief response from Tom Odom (His server is blocking access to the discussion board at this time).

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    We had a saying out at SOCPAC: "If you've seen one Country Team, you've seen one Country Team."
    As for Bob's world--tell him 2 Majors from group found out that one
    country team was not the same as was the one I was in....


    If you want to blend in, take the bus

  9. #9
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    May 2008

    Default Thoughts on the country team

    A few thoughts in response to the original question below, having served in several embassies:

    The country team SHOULD BE the mechanism that keeps all the disparate elements of an embassy in synch -- not unlike a daily or weekly BUA to a CG, but generally more interactive.

    That said, a country team is like the NSC in that it ultimately reflects what the boss (the ambassador) wants/needs out of the team. It can be a tightly run synchronization process or a very loose Kaffeeklatsch, and being able to adapt is an important skill for those in the mix. As somebody said below, the effectiveness of the country team is at bottom a leadership issue.

    Most country teams are far more "interagency" than just State and DOD -- generally any agency head is included, at least in the weekly routine, though it's true there is sometimes a "core" country team that may be smaller. Think USAID, CDC, Commerce, Customs, DEA, etc. etc. So for you bureaucratic cultural anthropologists out there, a good country team can be a gold mine!

    Seriously, though, the country team may just be the most effective interagency coordination mechanism the USG has. Most of the time, participants understand they need to synchronize their efforts and act constructively. Yes, as in any office setting, there is usually one or two stereotypical characters to be found (the whiner, the withholder, the suck-up, the clueless, the climber, etc.). Those generally don't correspond to agency affiliations, either. But unless there is really a leadership vacuum at the top, you can usually expect to get done what you need to get done.

    A lot of good basic information about how an embassy works can be found in the American Foreign Service Association's Inside a U.S. Embassy. It doesn't go into the differences in corporate cultures between State and DOD, but it's otherwise informative. I'll try to post some observations I've learned about State-DOD cultural differences later.


  10. #10
    Council Member
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    Dec 2008

    Default DOS/Country Teams

    Does anyone know if DOS funding will increase soon, either directly or through the stimulus, to bridge the gap between the mission and our current capabilities?

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