Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Quickie: State Department - Attracting a Different Type of Recruits?

Spencer Ackerman recently wrote As Troops Withdraw, Iraq Provincial Reconstruction Teams to Change, for The Washington Independent. The State Department’s Director of Provincial Reconstruction, Transition and Stabilization for Iraq, Wade Weems, was quoted extensively in the piece.

The Director expects a phase-out by 2011, by the way. But I’m struck by what he said about the new recruits at State.

“While he “applaud[ed] the many State Department personnel” who’ve joined the PRTs, Weems noted that the program was changing the way the department thinks of itself. “It’s attracting a different type of recruit into the State Department, people who want to go out and get their boots muddy, and who want to do the more dynamic, slightly adventurous, muddy-boot diplomacy that we at the PRTs do,” he said. “It’s inevitable that would have some effect on the State Department.”

One wonders if this is from anecdotal evidence or if this is supported by any comparative study of the composition of the last five-ten incoming A100 class over at FSI?


jc said...

The State Department is more than just FSOs. FS Specialists, Civil Servants, FSNs are all State Department personnel too - as are our 3161 colleagues on LTEs (and a host of other categories too long to mention.) Generalizing, I'd say it's fair to say that 3161s serving at PRTs have a different profile than many other State employees. The fact that the Department is opening up 3161 positions in Afghanistan indicates that the Iraq experience is having some effect.

Whether work at a PRT is "more dynamic" is perhaps a matter of perspective. I think that a zen master's patience is a useful trait (rarerly found) for those woring at PRTs.

Consul-At-Arms said...

I've linked back to you here:

DS said...

@JC -- thanks, that's an important point. Although I have to admit that when I read this piece I was wondering about organization change and the traditional culture at State brought by mission Iraq.

Because 3161 employees are one-year contract employees, I suspect their real impact on the organization. And as well, only a minority of the overall generalists and specialists have served in PRT tours ... so I imagine that those who have had PRT tours have a new way of looking at the Dept and the way it does things (and then again maybe not).

I don't know if by new recruits he means the folks who are 3161 or the traditional employees at State. I could almost imagine an expeditionary cone, if these new recruits fall under the later category.

DS said...

@CAA - thanks for the link, much appreciated!