Sunday, April 6, 2008

Meeting the Deployment Challenge in the Foreign Service

I just read FSO Marjorie Phillips' piece on meeting the deployment challenge in the Foreign Service. The paper was written last year as a strategy research project for the U.S. Army War College and talks about the challenges of FS staffing in this era of stabilization and reconstruction.

She writes that "the current administration has designated the Department of State as the lead agency in coordinating U.S. government efforts in stabilization and reconstruction. In order to complete this mission, the Department will need to deploy personnel into areas of severe hardship and potential military conflict, as we do today in our embassies and provincial reconstruction teams in Iraq and Afghanistan. In order to fill the jobs in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Department has put in place some compensation, promotion and assignment incentives. Still, it remains a struggle, both in hardship and non-hardship posts, to fill the positions with qualified personnel."

In the later part of her piece she emphasized that "no number of incentives will change the fact that the Department is not resourced to meet the current global staffing requirements. The problem is not that Foreign Service officers are not willing to accept challenging assignments, rather that there simply are not enough Foreign Service officers to do the jobs. Furthermore, the increasing recognition of the role of the State Department in reconstruction and stabilization requires an additional number of Department personnel be available for immediate deployment on these assignments. If the worldwide patterns of instability continue, and all indications are that they will, it is critical that the State Department be equipped to fill its positions."

The paper is brief (about 20 pages) and I wished the 12 suggestions included were more fully delineated. Still, I think this piece helps a bit more in understanding the resource requirement and funding realities that has hounded the State Department for many years now.

Ms. Phillips was most recently overseas as Management Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait (2006) , and was to assume the position as State Department Administrative Liaison to the CIA in June of last year. If you want to read the entire paper, click the link below; the document is hosted online in pdf format by the Defense Technical Information Center:

Foreign Service: Meeting the Deployment Challenge Marjorie Phillips (2007)

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