ANTICIPATING A BARRAGE OF NEGATIVE LEAKS FROM STATE
The Bush administration is pushing through a much needed reform of overseas personnel assignments in the State Department
that prioritizes national security over careerism, PC gender/multiculturalism concerns and "office politics" connections that dominated the previous selections process:"The State Department has begun the first major overhaul of its assignment system in decades, making it more difficult for U.S. diplomats to avoid serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and other dangerous posts that the Bush administration views as crucial in the war on terrorism.Senior department officials said that no jobs will be available for bidding by Foreign Service officers until all open positions in the critical posts have been filled. They also said that they would resort to "directed assignments" if the new scheme fails to achieve the desired results."We are going to start filling the toughest posts first," one senior official said. "We are still doing this on a voluntary basis, but, obviously, if we ever have to go to directed assignments, we will, because the bottom line is, you have to get your best, most talented people in the hardest and most important positions." Another official said that the best way for Foreign Service officers to ensure they have another job when their current assignment ends will be to opt for Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Pakistan and other hardship posts in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia..."
I wish to emphasize that I have great respect for FSO's. The risks that many of them face, sometimes operating in dangerous and fluid situations, are often unknown to the public and usually are forgotten by Congress. More of their unvarnished observations should make it up the food chain to key decision -makers than actually survive, in watered down form, armored by caveats into a state of meaninglessness. The State Department historically, for its many faults, does not receive the appropriations it actually needs to do it's job properly, invest in its personnel or carry out long-term strategic planning. Our career diplomatic personnel, particularly those who land difficult field assignments, need more support and fewer constraints from Washington.
That being said, our national security priorities must drive State Department policies, not the reverse. If you are in the Foreign Service and the idea of serving in Iraq is too much for you because of the danger or because you fundamentally disagree with the Bush administration's entire Mideast policy, then now is the time to look for another line of work. Presidents will come and go and policies will change, but any given president must be able to allocate diplomatic resources to critical foreign policy hot spots on an as-needed basis.
A more engaged diplomatic corps may mean less need to use the Marine Corps.
Hat tip to Dave
and The Small Wars Council