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Old 11-14-2007   #1
Kerguelen
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Default Attributes/skillset for 'rugged' diplomats

Much commentary on the difficulty State has staffing its Iraq positions, magnified by the 10% at Foggy Bottom who got together to complain publicly. The bottom line seems to be that the Department of State has neither the volume of people nor the staff with the skill sets necessary to hold up their end of the post-conflict bargain.

So I ask what are the selection attributes and trainable skills that are needed to work in the unstable environments of today and tomorrow?

-Matt
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Old 11-14-2007   #2
goesh
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Default Creme de la Creme

1 semester of ROTC or proven student Gov. service
2 semesters of say Spanish or Japanese language training
Ivy League diploma
politically active family
no defaults on student loans
no BMW older than 3 years
Methodist listed as religious affiliation
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Old 11-14-2007   #3
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Some good considerations for unstable environments? Not all required but good ideas.

Previous military experience
Academic or NGO experience in third world countries
Interested in extreme sports and extreme activities (not risk averse)
Language capable or willing
From large family or cohesive community (strong support at home)
Uses highly dynamic cognitive strategies (concrete thinkers need not apply)
Minimal ethnocentriscm but strong self identity
Large picture orientation rather than task or mission orientation (win the war don't sweat the petty political battles)
International law or business experience
NGO, FBO, Non/Not-for profit experience
Big time reader of history and policy from different view points
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Old 11-14-2007   #4
DGreen
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I worked in southern Afghanistan for a year as a U.S. Department of State (DOS) political advisor at a PRT and I just completed a tour as a mobilized reservist in Iraq working as the tribal/leadership engagement officer for a SEAL Team in the Fallujah area. I've seen a lot of the "deployed" DOS, a lot of whom I liked and a lot I didn't, but here's what I found that worked the best in terms of skills and attributes.

1. Physically fit
2. Knows how to operate firearms
3. Is a team player both inside and outside the wire
4. Is personally brave
5. Knows first aid, communications, military culture, and military operations
6. Sees their job as trying to defeat the insurgency and not just reporting on it.
7. Prefers to be outside the wire than inside it.
8. Shows constant initiative
9. Builds governing institutions, facilitates development and reconstruction, creates situational awareness among military units
10. Isn't shy about advocating U.S. interests
11. Isn't professionally afraid to say something is screwed up
12. Lacks arrogance
13. Is realistic about what can be done
14. Looks to achieve concrete results and measures progress to achieve those goals
15. Is an anthropologist, political scientist, ward boss, mayor, city manager, and political leader
16. Doesn't whine.

I'm sure I could add more but this is a start.

-Dan
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Old 11-14-2007   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DGreen View Post
I worked in southern Afghanistan for a year as a U.S. Department of State (DOS) political advisor at a PRT and I just completed a tour as a mobilized reservist in Iraq working as the tribal/leadership engagement officer for a SEAL Team in the Fallujah area. I've seen a lot of the "deployed" DOS, a lot of whom I liked and a lot I didn't, but here's what I found that worked the best in terms of skills and attributes.

1. Physically fit
2. Knows how to operate firearms
3. Is a team player both inside and outside the wire
4. Is personally brave
5. Knows first aid, communications, military culture, and military operations
6. Sees their job as trying to defeat the insurgency and not just reporting on it.
7. Prefers to be outside the wire than inside it.
8. Shows constant initiative
9. Builds governing institutions, facilitates development and reconstruction, creates situational awareness among military units
10. Isn't shy about advocating U.S. interests
11. Isn't professionally afraid to say something is screwed up
12. Lacks arrogance
13. Is realistic about what can be done
14. Looks to achieve concrete results and measures progress to achieve those goals
15. Is an anthropologist, political scientist, ward boss, mayor, city manager, and political leader
16. Doesn't whine.

I'm sure I could add more but this is a start.

-Dan
Dan

Great list.

I would add:

a. Does not care what the latest shopping cart survey says (or at least does not consider the survey to be a priority).

b. Prefers a multi-pocket vest to a bow tie.

c. Considers cussing part and parcel of multicultural communications

Stan, I know has his own.

Tom
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Old 11-14-2007   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DGreen View Post
1. Physically fit
3. Is a team player both inside and outside the wire
11. Isn't professionally afraid to say something is screwed up
16. Doesn't whine.
-Dan

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
Dan

Great list.

I would add:

a. Does not care what the latest shopping cart survey says (or at least does not consider the survey to be a priority).

b. Prefers a multi-pocket vest to a bow tie.

c. Considers cussing part and parcel of multicultural communications

Stan, I know has his own.

Tom
Now that you mention it, I've reduced the initial list to 4 items and add Tom's 3.

I only really have one other. Their first 2 tours must be a nightmare, which would null and void item 16. Otherwise, I'd settle on any given day for items 3, 11 and 16 and still add Tom's 3.

His or her PT scores can be exchanged for 'ability to get along with others'.

Stan

Hi Matt and welcome !
Please take the time to introduce yourself here.
Stan

Last edited by Stan; 11-14-2007 at 08:12 PM.
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Old 11-14-2007   #7
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Quote:
His or her PT scores can be exchanged for 'ability to get along with others'.
Hey where do I sign up... I'm old fat and happy!
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Old 11-14-2007   #8
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how about:

Will not let their political convictions prevent them from deploying to do the mission?

Best, Rob
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Old 11-14-2007   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
how about:

Will not let their political convictions prevent them from deploying to do the mission?

Best, Rob
I agree, if what you mean by "political convictions" also translates losely to "fear."
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Old 11-14-2007   #10
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Default Concur and would add that

even more then the "a person could get killed there" comment - the one that got me was the nature of the comment "you should not have to go it you don't support the policy" - I guess the "service" piece should be dropped and we'll just call those who fell that way "FOs" -oops, my latent knuckle dragger tendencies just popped out.
Best, Rob
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Old 11-14-2007   #11
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Quote:
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even more then the "a person could get killed there" comment - the one that got me was the nature of the comment "you should not have to go it you don't support the policy" - I guess the "service" piece should be dropped and we'll just call those who fell that way "FOs" -oops, my latent knuckle dragger tendencies just popped out.
Best, Rob
Ai-ee-ya, Rob.
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Old 11-14-2007   #12
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Default Item no. 17

Thanks Guys, brings me to prerequisite number 17, separate personal honor from political convictions !

Quote:
As the redcoats retreated helter-skelter to Boston, they were riddled by sniper fire that erupted from behind hedges, stone walls, and fences, leaving a bloody trail of 273 British casualties versus 95 dead or wounded for the patriots. The news reached New York within four days and a mood of insurrection promptly overtook the city. People gathered at taverns and street corners to ponder events while Tories quaked. The newly emboldened Sons of Liberty streamed down to the East River docks, pilfered ships bound for British troops in Boston, then emptied the city hall arsenal of its muskets, bayonets, and cartridge boxes, grabbing a thousand weapons in all.

Inflamed by the astonishing news from Massachusetts, Alexander Hamilton, then a student at King’s College (later Columbia University), was that singular intellectual who picked up a musket as fast as a pen.
Quote:
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how about:

Will not let their political convictions prevent them from deploying to do the mission?

Best, Rob
Quote:
Originally Posted by RTK View Post
I agree, if what you mean by "political convictions" also translates losely to "fear."
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Old 11-15-2007   #13
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Biscuits..they need to know how to make Biscuits!
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Old 11-15-2007   #14
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Biscuits..they need to know how to make Biscuits!
With Squirrel Gravy!
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Old 11-15-2007   #15
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Default Quelle Horreur! Red eye. Red eye gravy.

Squirrel is so bourgoisie...
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Old 11-15-2007   #16
Norfolk
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Default The Horror! The Horror!

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Squirrel is so bourgoisie...
I feel so ASHAMED! I can't ever show my face in the COUNTRY again!
What Six months of Citie Livin' has done to me! All of a sudden, I have this sudden, horrifying compulsion to join the Foreign Service!

You can be so cruel, Ken. (By the way, you got a good recipe for Red Eye Gravy?)
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Old 11-15-2007   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kerguelen View Post
So I ask what are the selection attributes and trainable skills that are needed to work in the unstable environments of today and tomorrow?
While all the attributes listed previously by SWC members are definitely important, I think the key characteristic is a certain je ne sais quoi quality that exemplifies a code of behavior far beyond traditional Westphalian diplomacy (i.e., elites negotiating with elites). I think it has something to do with the divestiture of oneself's importance or sense of self-interest in favor of others.

[Fair warning: I'm still wrestling with what to call this or how to even describe it, but it has something to do with the concepts and feelings of choice, The Beatles' "All You Need Is Love,"and the Time Magazine Person of the Year cover - "YOU."

I say this because of a 20-yr-old I met a few days ago who was reading about the FSO "fiasco." This lad had no military background, was incredibly well-read, had an interest in languages but no command of any except English, and was working on a degree in economics at a small university.

He told me (and I paraphrase), "I grew up reading comic books, watching movies about Jedi, and listening to music about love. How is it that I know better than these old guys that the best way to motivate people to change is by instilling hope within them? You can't do that by carrying guns, wearing body armor, and treating everybody that's not like you as a criminal. You do it by empowering others, even if it costs you your life."

Kids these days...
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Old 11-15-2007   #18
Ken White
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Exclamation Nay, not so. Not cruel at all, merely trying to

Quote:
Originally Posted by Norfolk View Post
:...
You can be so cruel, Ken. (By the way, you got a good recipe for Red Eye Gravy?)
share one of many cultural icons with our Friends from the Great Less White Now Than It Used To Be North.

I do not personally have one and my wife refuses to share hers (selfish wench) however, I have a Friend that can assist; LINK

Enjoy!
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Old 11-15-2007   #19
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Default As an old guy who's still alive, I wish him

Quote:
Originally Posted by St. Christopher View Post
...
. . .
He told me (and I paraphrase), "I grew up reading comic books, watching movies about Jedi, and listening to music about love. How is it that I know better than these old guys that the best way to motivate people to change is by instilling hope within them? You can't do that by carrying guns, wearing body armor, and treating everybody that's not like you as a criminal. You do it by empowering others, even if it costs you your life."

Kids these days...
the best of luck in event he runs across someone who, unlike Tom Lehrer's advisory, is not similarly inclined.
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Old 11-26-2007   #20
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Default I agree but...

Quote:
He told me (and I paraphrase), "I grew up reading comic books, watching movies about Jedi, and listening to music about love. How is it that I know better than these old guys that the best way to motivate people to change is by instilling hope within them? You can't do that by carrying guns, wearing body armor, and treating everybody that's not like you as a criminal. You do it by empowering others, even if it costs you your life."
I think that this guy has the right understanding of motivation to change stemming from hope. The hopeless don't change, since there is no reason to. I would address the rest of the statement in the following way.

1. Is that enough? I don't think it is in the Middle East. In fact anywhere there is a small war, it is because traditional leadership, and by extension hope, has broken down. If the "tribal system" everyone claims works, doesn't completely, otherwise we could at least negotiate with someone.

2. If it were enough, would your life be the one that gets offered up in sacrifice? It is really easy to prescribe a drug that doesn't result in your death, and just as importantly the demise of your marriage, with the resulting weekend visits to your kids, ...

3. Finally, even if you did decide that your life was the one worth it, do you really have to abandon your bullet proof vest and gun? It isn't as though they are the anti-hope. (The treating people like criminals could go by the wayside, though. We have enough trouble with that even within our own organizations.)
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