Category Archives: Non-AIP

US Embassy Guyana: Is this the consequence of midlevel staffing/experience gaps?

On Thursday, July 18, three persons were killed when police opened fire on protestors in Linden opposed to the increase in electricity rates. Linden is the second largest town in Guyana after Georgetown, and the capital of the Upper Demerara-Berbice region. According to local reports, police said they were forced to fire pellets into the crowd because many of them were robbing persons and burning vehicles.

Map extracted from 2008 OIG report of US Embassy Guyana

Also on Thursday, the following message was posted on US Embassy Guyana’s Facebook page:

Statement by Diplomatic Representatives of Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America on the Deaths of Protesters in Linden

Georgetown, Guyana – The diplomatic representatives of Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America wish to express their profound regret at the tragic loss of life that took place July 18th in Linden. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives or suffered injury.

We appeal to all parties and stakeholders to work together in a spirit of national unity to prevent any further violence and to resolve current tensions through an open and inclusive dialogue.

The same local report says that “…. the United States embassy in an internal memo told staff to stay away from Linden, the scene of “violent protests,” and be careful when moving about in Georgetown where there are “ongoing protests.”

One of our readers named anon y mouse, noting the absence of a Warden Message on the Embassy website, or a Travel Alert on travel.state.gov. asked if there is a “double standard” here.

We will crib here from our old blog post on Bogota about the “no double standard policy:”

The State Department has what is called the “no double standard” policy  in its travel information program. 7 FAM dictates that if State shares important security threat information including criminal information with the official U.S. community, such information should also be made available to the non-official U.S. community.  Selective notification is against the law.  The regs also says that “If a post issues information to its employees about potentially dangerous situations, it should evaluate whether the potential danger could also affect private U.S. citizens/U.S. non-citizen nationals living in or traveling through the affected area.”

And actually 7 FAM 053.2-2 (e) below has very clear reminders which says:

“Remember that if you conclude you should warn your personnel or any U.S. Government employees, whether permanently stationed or on temporary duty abroad, about a security threat, your request for Department approval to warn post personnel should also include a request to share that same information with the non-official U.S. community under the “no double standard” policy (see 7 FAM 052). The policy applies whether the information is shared with U.S. Government employees in town meetings, in post newsletters, by e-mail, or on the telephone. The threat or warning information might include information about locations within the host country including hotels, restaurants, entertainment spots, places of worship, tourist sites, etc. Unless the threat is specific to a particular institution for reasons peculiar to that institution, you should not list names of specific locations, including names of hotels or restaurants, for which threat or warning information is available. You should also refrain from developing lists of “approved” hotels. In providing such lists to the community, you may actually increase the risk that perpetrators could change the target, thus increasing the risk to U.S. citizens/nationals who may be relying on such lists. (underlined for emphasis).

We checked the embassy’s website and social media presence.  There was that message on Facebook from the diplomatic reps, including the United States, and there is a tweet referencing it but there is no emergency or warden message on the embassy’s website or FB/Twitter or in the embassy blog, The Demerara Diaries.

Via FB

Via Twitter

Via US Embassy Guyana website, screen grab of July 21, 2012

But on July 19, the US Embassy actually issued an Emergency Message to US citizens. But you won’t know that from checking the embassy’s website or visiting its social media accounts.  Why? Because it’s not there.  We actually found it on the Diplomatic Security-run OSAC website here only because we knew what we were looking for.

Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens: Demonstrations in Linden (Guyana)
Political Violence
Western Hemisphere > Guyana > Georgetown
7/19/2012
This message advises U.S. citizens in Guyana to exercise caution when in public due to violent protests in Linden and ongoing protests in Georgetown in response to a rise in electricity rates. The U.S. Embassy advises U.S. citizens in Guyana to limit your movement in and around Georgetown and Linden and to avoid unnecessary travel throughout the country.

The recent protests in Linden resulted in property damage and loss of life.  Protests are being held July 19 at Eve Leary Police Headquarters in response to the events in Linden.  Protests in Georgetown are ongoing and may extend to other locations.

The U.S. Embassy advises U.S. citizens to avoid large public gatherings. Be aware of traffic delays and increased pedestrian presence in the potential problem areas listed above. Note that this list of problem areas is not comprehensive, and you should exercise caution throughout Guyana.

Even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can become violent and unpredictable.  You should avoid them if at all possible.  Be alert and aware of your surroundings and pay attention to what the local news media has to say.

Really, how useful are those social media platforms?  To our last count, the embassy has two Facebook pages (one solely for the consular section). It has a separate photo gallery, streaming videos and is on Flickr, Twitter and Tumblr.  And not a single one of these outlets has the link to the emergency message, that it’s own consular section presumably put out on July 19.  Would a US citizen in Guyana know to look at the OSAC website for the embassy’s emergency message? (Note: As of July 22, 3:26 AM EST, no relevant update on the embassy’s website/social media fronts).

In addition to that, Guyanese Online published what it says is an internal memo to embassy employees, part of which says:

“Regional Security Officer (RSO) advises to limit your exposure in and around Georgetown to necessary travel. Travel to Linden is prohibited until further notice,” states the document.

There are a couple of things at issue here: 1) the Emergency Message published via OSAC and the internal memo from RSO are not anywhere on the embassy’s online presence; could be due to IT issues (like webmaster on leave, no back up) or internet availability (we’re stretching here but we don’t know how good or bad is the accessibility in country). The message after it’s cleared must go to the PA or IT section, or the social media ninjas and whoever is in charge of maintaining the website.  We won’t call this a double standard since the Emergency Message actually went out; the fact that it’s not on the embassy’s website or related outlets is more like somebody dropping the ball …. because it happens.

2) the Emergency Message did not include the fact that embassy employees were prohibited from traveling to Linden until further notice. This is the more troubling part, because the regs are darn clear. And it appears that in this case, the embassy told official Americans they are prohibited from traveling to Linden, but did not/not share this information with the non-official American community in its Emergency Message.  But then we saw this:

Via US Embassy Guyana website, screen capture of July 21, 2012

We can’t help but wonder if this is all a simple oversight/folks dropping the ball into the ocean or if this is an example of the consequences of the Foreign Service midlevel staffing and experience gaps reported by GSO  GAO recently?  (see Foreign Service Staffing Gaps, and Oh, Diplomacy 3.0 Hiring Initiative to Conclude in FY2023).

The last time the OIG visited the US Embassy Guyana was in 2008. It is one of those posts described as “previously neglected” as a “back water” post – among the last in line to receive support” according to the 2008 report.

At the time of that inspection, the report said that “it is regrettable the Department has not done a better job of ensuring that some experienced consular cone officers are regularly assigned to this hard-to-fill post. Its consular section was (maybe still is) staffed by “an assortment of Civil Service officers on excursion tours, out-of-cone and entry-level Foreign Service officers, and a consular associate.”

The 2008 inspection also reported the following details:

  • “the regional security office has had a rotation of 15 temporary duty regional security officers before the arrival of the incumbent.”
  • “Numerous temporary-duty employees have been sent from Wash­ington to fill gaps, at least partially, but this leads to a lack of continuity in positions where there is not a strong corps of LE staff to provide historical perspective.”
  • “28 LE staff was terminated in the past two years,” but the report points out that “none was terminated for malfeasance, notwithstanding a his­tory of such problems that included a previous consular officer.”

Staffing at the embassy was reportedly “chronically short,” despite being accorded a 25 percent hardship allowance and and official designation as a hard-to-fill post.

As of July 15, 2012, Guyana is a 25% hardship and 25% COLA assignment.

We’d like to think that something happened since 2008 to fix the problems pointed out in the 2008 report of US Embassy Guyana. But — Guyana remains one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, and unless we missed it, the country has not moved into a “front water” priority post for the State Department.

And seriously? — with AIP posts sucking out the oxygen from practically every part of the U.S. Foreign Service, who has a spare oxygen tank for a post like Georgetown?

But – despite all that we can’t give post an easy pass.  Given that the protection of US citizens is one of the embassy’s most important responsibility overseas or so they say, the American Citizen Services chief (or if there isn’t one, the Consular chief) should have been working hand in glove with the embassy’s Security Officer. And if neither the consular section nor the security office is well versed on the “no double standard” policy — surely somebody at the front office has this drummed into their heads?

We just hope that no US citizen becomes a victim at the next riots in Linden.

Update@ 11:55 AM PST
Peter Van Buren
, a Consular Officer before he was put on deep ice, points out another possible explanation:

Let’s imagine inside the Embassy the usual fight about saying anything bad about the host nation. RSO and/or CONs knows of the danger and wants to warn people, which will trigger the “no double standard” rule. POL and/or the Front Office are worried about bilateral relations. So, the “compromise” is to release the info publicly, sort of, in a way that gets it out there enough for CYA but not enough to create a stir.
I saw this more than once in my own career. RSO or CONs used the channel it controls (newsletter) to disseminate info and the Front Office blocked it from the channel it controls (web site).
Ah yes, that familiar bureaucratic battle.  Although more often than not, we think that battle occurs in relation to the issuance of the Consular Information Sheet or the Travel Warning.  Warden/emergency messages are not exempted from that battle, of course, but we don’t know if that’s what happened here.  If it is, then that’s when you need a Consular Officer, one with balls who will stand up to POL and/or the front office on the mat of 7 FAM 050.

Domani Spero

2 Comments

Filed under Ambassadors, Consular Work, Countries 'n Regions, FSOs, Govt Reports/Documents, Huh? News, Leadership and Management, Locally Employed Staff, Non-AIP, Realities of the FS, Security, Social Media, Staffing the FS, State Department, U.S. Missions

Officially In: Deborah Malac –from AF Bureau to Liberia

On May 9, 2012, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Deborah Malac as the next Ambassador to the Republic of Liberia. The WH released the following brief bio:

Deborah Malac, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, currently serves as Director of the Office of East African Affairs at the Department of State.  Prior to this role, she served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa.  Previous posts in Washington include Deputy Director of the Office of East African Affairs and Deputy Director of the Office of Agricultural, Biotechnology, and Textiles Trade Affairs.  Other overseas assignments have included service in Dakar, Senegal; Bangkok, Thailand; Pretoria, South Africa; and Yaounde, Cameroon.

Ms. Malac received a B.A. from Furman University, an M.A. from the University of Virginia, and an M.S. from the National Defense University.

Ms. Deborah Malac, Deputy Chief of Mission, US Embassy, gives a speech during a dedication ceremony at the Abadir Primary School to honor the work of personnel from Naval Marine Construction Battalion 4, Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa, on October 16,2008 at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
(U.S. Air Force photo by MSgt Stan Parker) (Released)

If confirmed, Ms. Malac would assume charge of the US Embassy in Monrovia from Chargé D’Affaires a.i. Karl Albrecht.  The most recent ambassador to Liberia, Linda Thomas-Greenfield was recently confirmed as Director General of the Foreign Service.

Domani Spero

Related item:
President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts | May 9, 2012

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, Ambassadors, FSOs, Nominations, Non-AIP, Officially In

Officially In: Susan Marsh Elliott – from SCA Bureau to Tajikistan

On April 11, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Susan Marsh Elliott as the next Ambassador to the Republic of Tajikistan. The WH released the following brief bio:

Susan Marsh Elliott, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Counselor, currently

State Dept Photo

serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs at the Department of State.  Prior to this role, Ms. Elliott served as Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow (2009-2010) and as Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Belfast (2007-2009).   Other assignments have included Deputy Executive Secretary (2005-2007), Office Director of the Executive Secretariat Staff (2003-2005), Visa Section Chief at the U.S. Embassy in Athens (2001-2003), Deputy Economic Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Athens (1999-2001), and Desk Officer in the Office of the Coordinator for Regional Conflicts in the New Independent States (1994-1995).  Ms. Elliott joined the Foreign Service in 1990 after serving as a nurse at the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa.

Ms. Elliott received a B.S. from Skidmore College, an M.S. from Russell Sage College, and a D.S.N. from Indiana University.

If confirmed, she would succeed career diplomat, Kenneth E. Gross, Jr. who was appointed chief of mission to Dushanbe in 2009. Ms. Elliott speaks Russian, Greek, and Spanish. During her twenty-year career as a Foreign Service Officer she has received several individual superior and meritorious honor awards.

Ms. Elliott is married to Matthias Mitman, who is also a Foreign Service officer. They have two adult sons. Prior to joining the Foreign Service she received a doctoral degree from Indiana University and served on the faculties of Ball State University and the University of Virginia.

Domani Spero

Related item:
April 11, 2012 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

Leave a comment

Filed under Ambassadors, Countries 'n Regions, FSOs, Nominations, Non-AIP, Officially In

Officially In: Douglas M. Griffiths – from USUN to Mozambique

On March 29, 2012, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Douglas M. Griffiths as the next Ambassador to the Republic of Mozambique. The WH released the following brief bio:

Douglas M. Griffiths is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service and currently serves as the U.S.

Douglas M. Griffiths
(Photo from USUN)

Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.  From 2006 to 2009, he was the Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Guayaquil, Ecuador.  Previous overseas assignments include: Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’affaires, ad interim at the United States Embassy to the Republic of Haiti (2004-2006); Counselor for International Economic Affairs at the U.S. Mission in Geneva, Switzerland (2000-2004); and First Secretary of Economic Affairs in Rabat, Morocco (1996-1999).  In Washington, he worked on the South Africa desk during the South African transition to democracy.  He began his career in the Foreign Service in 1988 with overseas assignments in Quebec City, Canada; Lisbon, Portugal; and Maputo, Mozambique.

Mr. Griffiths received a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and an M.P.P. from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School.

Mr Griffiths’ UN bio indicates that he speaks French, Portuguese and Spanish. He is married and has two children.

If confirmed, he would succeed career diplomat, Leslie V. Rowe who was appointed  Ambassador to Mozambique in 2009. No political appointee has ever succeeded in getting appointed to the US Embassy in Maputo since it was opened in November 8, 1975 after its independence from Portugal.

Domani Spero

Related item:
President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts | March 29, 2012

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, Ambassadors, FSOs, Nominations, Non-AIP, Officially In

Officially In: Mark L. Asquino, from “J” Bureau to Equatorial Guinea

On March 16, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Mark L. Asquino as the next Ambassador to the Republic of Equatorial Guinea. The WH released the following brief bio:

Mark L. Asquino, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister Counselor, currently serves as the Executive Assistant in the Office of the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights at the U.S. Department of State.  From 2010 to 2011, he served as a Senior Public Diplomacy Fellow at George Washington University.  Previously, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Sudan and at the U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan.   Mr. Asquino has also served overseas in Caracas, Panama City, Madrid, Bucharest, Santiago, and Tashkent.  In Washington, he has served as the Principal Deputy Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization at the U.S. Department of State.

Mr. Asquino received his A.B. and Ph.D. in American Civilization from Brown University.

Mark Asquino, then Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Khartoum during a ribbon-cutting ceremony (Photo from US Embassy Sudan/Picasa)

If confirmed, Mr. Asquino would succeed career diplomat, Alberto M. Fernandez who was appointed to the US Embassy in Malabo in January 2010. On March 26, Ambassador Fernandez assumed the position of Coordinator of the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC), a new inter-agency entity based at the State Department.

Domani Spero

Related item:

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts | March 16, 2012

Leave a comment

Filed under FSOs, Nominations, Non-AIP, Officially In

Officially In: Dorothea-Maria (Doria) Rosen– from Diplomat-in-Residence in Illinois to Micronesia

On March 9, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Dorothea-Maria (Doria) Rosen as the next Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia. The WH released the following brief bio:

Dorothea-Maria (Doria) Rosen, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, currently serves as the Diplomat-in-Residence for the Midwest region, based out of the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Prior to this position, she was the Deputy Principal Officer in Frankfurt, Germany.  From 2004 to 2008, Ms. Rosen served as the Consul General in Bern, Switzerland.  From 2001 to 2004, she was Deputy Chief of Mission in Reykjavik, Iceland.  Other overseas positions include: Visa Branch Chief in Frankfurt, Germany (1996-1999); Nonimmigrant Visa Chief in Manila, Philippines (1994-1996); Political Military Officer in Berlin, Germany (1991-1994); Consular Officer in Accra, Ghana (1989-1991); Deputy Chief Immigrant Visa Section in Seoul, South Korea (1988-1989); and Vice Consul in Stuttgart, Germany (1983-1986) and Bucharest, Romania (1981-1983).  In Washington, Ms. Rosen has served as Director of the Office of Public and Diplomatic Liaison in the Bureau of Consular Affairs (1999-2001) and as an analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (1986-1988).  Prior to entering the Foreign Service, Ms. Rosen served as an Army Reservist from 1979 to 1981.  From 1976 to 1979, she served on active duty in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps in Heidelberg, Germany.

She holds an A.B. from Vassar College and a J.D. from Hofstra University Law School.

On September 20, 1989, the Office of the U.S. Representative in Micronesia was upgraded to an embassy status. The first U.S. Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia, Aurelia Brazeal, presented her credentials on September 18, 1990. In the brief history of the US Embassy in Kolonia, Ms. Rosen, if confirmed would only be the 8th ambasador to Micronesia. She will succeed career diplomat, Peter A. Prahar who was appointed to the US Embassy in Kolonia in 2009.

Domani Spero

Related item:
March 9, 2012 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

1 Comment

Filed under Ambassadors, FSOs, Nominations, Non-AIP, Officially In

Officially In: Jeffrey D. Levine – from HR to Estonia

On February 16, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Jeffrey D. Levine to the next Ambassador to the Republic of Estonia. The WH released the following brief bio:

Jeffrey D. Levine, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, has served as the State Department’s Office Director of Recruitment, Examination and Employment since September 2010.  Prior to this position, he was Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest, Hungary from 2007 to 2010.  From 2003 to 2006, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Sofia, Bulgaria.  Other overseas positions include: Management Counselor in Brasilia, Brazil (1999-2002); Management Officer in Nicosia, Cyprus (1995-1998); Consular/General Services Officer in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (1988-1990); and Consular/Political Officer in Lima, Peru (1985-1987).  In Washington, Mr. Levine served as Special Assistant in the Office of the Under Secretary for Management (1994-1995), Hungary Desk Officer in the Office of Eastern European Affairs (1993-1994), and Watch Officer in the State Operations Center (1992-1993).

He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Humboldt State University and a Master’s Degree from National Defense University.

US Embassy Tallinn was established on October 2, 1991, with Robert C. Frasure as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim, also subsequently commissioned as Ambassador. If confirmed, Mr. Levine would succeed career diplomat, Michael C. Polt who was appointed chief of mission to Tallinn by President Obama in 2009.

A nice coincidence of note — the most recent Office Director of Recruitment, Examination and Employment (HR/REE), that is, Mr. Levine’s predecessor was appointed Ambassador to Iceland in 2010. Another previous Office Director who served in HR/REE was appointed Ambassador to Cape Verde in 2008.  So just in the last five years or so, all career diplomats who served as top gun in REE went on to an ambassadorship.  That is a pretty darn good record.

 

Related item:

February 16, 2012 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Ambassadors, FSOs, Nominations, Non-AIP, Officially In

Officially In: Mark A. Pekala – from HR to Latvia

On February 17, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Mark A. Pekala as the next Ambassador to the Republic of Latvia. The WH released the following brief bio:

Mark A. Pekala, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, is currently the Director of the Entry-Level Division in the Bureau of Human Resources.  Previously, he served as the Deputy Chief of Mission in France (2007-2010), Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs (2005-2007), and the Deputy Chief of Mission in Estonia (2002-2005).  In 2001, Mr. Pekala was Director for Russian Affairs for the National Security Council.  Mr. Pekala’s previous Washington posts have included: Senior Watch Officer in the Department of State Operations Center; Special Assistant to the Ambassador-at-Large for the New Independent States; and Russia Desk Officer.  Additional overseas assignments have included: First Secretary to the U.S. Mission to NATO in Belgium; Political Officer in Azerbaijan; and a Consular Officer in Poland.

Mr. Pekala received a B.A. from the University of Michigan, an M.I.A. from Columbia University, and an M.Phil. from Columbia University.

If confirmed, Mr. Pekala would succeed career diplomat, Judith Garber who was appointed by President Obama to the US Embassy in Riga in 2009.

 

Related item:
February 17, 2012 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Ambassadors, FSOs, Nominations, Non-AIP, Officially In

Officially In: Makila James – from WHA to Swaziland

On February 17, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Makila James as the next Ambassador to the Kingdom of Swaziland. The WH released the following brief bio:

Makila James, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, currently serves as the Director of the Office of Caribbean Affairs at the Department of State.  From 2007 to 2009, she was the Deputy Director of the Office of Southern African Affairs.  From 2006 to 2007, she was the Principal Officer of the Consulate General in Juba.  Previously, Ms. James was a member of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff from 2003 to 2006.  Other positions in Washington include: Research Fellow at the Georgetown University Institute for the Study of Diplomacy; International Relations Officer in the Office of International Organization Affairs; Desk Officer in the Office of West African Affairs; and Watch Officer at the Operations Center. Overseas assignments include: Political Officer in Zimbabwe; Political/Economics Officer in Nigeria; and Consular Officer in Jamaica.

Ms. James received a B.A. from Cornell University, a Masters in National Security Studies from the National Defense University, and a J.D. from Columbia University Law School.

 

If confirmed, Ms. James would succeed career diplomat, Earl Irving who was appointed by President Obama as chief of mission to the US Embassy in Mbabane in 2009.

 

Related item:
February 17, 2012 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

Leave a comment

Filed under Ambassadors, FSOs, Nominations, Non-AIP, Officially In

Officially In: Kenneth Merten to Croatia

On February 10, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Kenneth Merten to be the next Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia. The WH released the following brief bio:

Ambassador Kenneth Merten currently serves as the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Haiti.  Prior to serving as Ambassador in Haiti, he was the Deputy Executive Secretary at the Department of State.  A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Ambassador Merten joined the Foreign Service in 1987.  His previous overseas assignments have included Economic Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, Economic Section Chief at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Economic Officer at the U.S. Mission to the European Union in Brussels, Economic Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Bonn, Germany, and Vice Consul in Port-au-Prince.  Ambassador Merten’s Washington assignments have included two tours in the State Department Operations Center, Executive Assistant in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, and Cuba Desk Officer.

Ambassador Merten holds a B.A. from Miami University in Ohio, an M.P.A. from American University, and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Miami University.

His bio indicates that Ambassador Merten spent about two thirds of his previous assignments overseas, in two regional bureaus: EUR (France, Brussels, Germany) and WHA (three tours in Haiti) with about a third of the time spent in Foggy Bottom (two tours in the Ops Center, plus an EA, a desk job and as Deputy Executive Secretary).  Haiti is a 5% danger post, a 25% COLA, and a 30% hardship differential post.

He most recently supervised the United States Government’s relief efforts after the catastrophic Haiti earthquake of 12 January 2010.  In May of 2010, Ambassador Merten was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Miami University.  Ambassador Merten was born in St. Louis, Missouri and considers Hudson, Ohio his hometown.  He is married to Susan Greenman Merten and has two children.

From left to right: Former President Jimmy Carter, Mrs. Merten, Mrs. Carter and Ambassador Merten, during the launching of the drug treatment campaign against Lymphatic Filariasis at the Ambassador’s residence. Photo from US Embassy Haiti/FB

If confirmed, Ambassador Merten would succeed career diplomat, James B. Foley, who was appointed to the US Embassy in Zagreb in 2009. Embassy Zagreb was opened Aug 25, 1992, with Ronald Nietzke as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim. The only non-career appointee ever to serve there was Peter W. Galbraith of Vermont who was US Ambassador from June 1993-Jannuary 1998.

Domani Spero

Updated to clarify previous assignments and hardship assignment information.

 

Related item:

February 10, 2012 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

4 Comments

Filed under Ambassadors, FSOs, Nominations, Non-AIP, Officially In