Category Archives: T-Tank Reports

AAD Report: Under-investment in diplomacy has left Foreign Service overstretched, under prepared

The American Academy of Diplomacy has released a new report on the U.S. Foreign Service that points to the “urgent need to prepare and sustain a corps of American diplomatic professionals that is intellectually and operationally ready to lead in the new environment.”  The report also says that “there is little question that under-investment in diplomacy over the last decade or so has left our Foreign Service overstretched and under prepared.”

Among its recommendations are 1) fully funding of the staffing initiative under Diplomacy 3.0, 2) creation of a 15% training float, 3) long-term commitment to investing in the professional education and training needed “to build a 21st-century diplomatic service of the United States able to meet the complex challenges and competition we face in the coming decades”; 4) strengthening and expansion of the Department of State’s professional development process ; 5) establishment of a temporary corps of roving counselors to address mentoring problems caused by the mid-level gap; 6) a study that will examine best practices in the field to determine how on-the-job training can be most effectively conducted for FSOs; 7) completion of a year of advanced study related to FSO’s career track as a requirement for promotion to the Senior Foreign Service; and 8) appropriately targeted consultations before a new Chief of Mission (COM) even begins pre-assignment consultations.
 
You can read the whole thing below. Or you can download the abridged and full version of the report here. Do not skip the appendices.  The US Foreign Service Primer in Appendix A includes the most current employment numbers as well as a quick look on promotion and the ‘up or out’ system. Appendix D includes an interesting item on the professional development in other diplomatic services. You probably already know that Chinese officers must take a leadership and management training course, along with courses on international relations, economics and finance, international history, Chinese history, protocol, and consular affairs for promotion to 2nd Secretary. But do you know that these courses apparently are taken in officers’ spare time, in addition to their normal duties? Do you know which diplomatic service requires its officers to sit for exams following a one-month course that focuses on economics, law, civil society, and politics before promotion to 1st Secretary?  Or which one requires a PhD-level dissertation for promotion to Counselor?  Read more below.

Forging a 21st Century Diplomatic Service for the United States through Professional Education and Training http://d1.scribdassets.com/ScribdViewer.swf?document_id=50321106&access_key=key-1fdjsa2cc63b38eyb56v&page=1&viewMode=list

Copyright © 2011 American Academy of Diplomacy, the Henry L. Stimson Center and the American Foreign Service Association // Republished with permission from AAD.


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Filed under Diplomacy, Foreign Service, Professional Development, State Department, T-Tank Reports

Quickie: Americans Less Anxious About U.S. Foreign Policy Now Than In Past Four Years

But Republicans Have Grown Much More Anxious; Democrats And Independents Much Less So

This one from Public Agenda:

The American public is less anxious about foreign policy than it’s been for four years, partly because they believe our global image has improved, and partly because the troubled economy and other domestic concerns are pushing foreign worries aside, according to Public Agenda’s Confidence in U.S. Foreign Policy Index.

The Foreign Policy Anxiety Indicator stands at 122, a 10-point drop since 2008 and the lowest level since Public Agenda introduced this measure in 2006. The Confidence in Foreign Policy Index, produced by Public Agenda in collaboration with Foreign Affairs, uses a set of tracking questions to measure Americans’ comfort level with the nation’s foreign policy, much the same way the Consumer Confidence Index measures the public’s satisfaction with the economy.

The Anxiety Indicator is measured on a 200-point scale, with 100 serving as a neutral midpoint, neither anxious nor confident. A score of 50 or below would indicate a period of complacency. Above the “redline” of 150 would be anxiety shading into real fear and a withdrawal of public confidence in U.S. policy.

“Two years ago, Iraq was seen as the ‘number one’ problem facing the nation in its dealings with the rest of the world,” said Daniel Yankelovich, the noted social scientist and Public Agenda’s chairman. “Now, neither Iraq nor Afghanistan is cited as one of the five most important foreign policy problems we face. But most Americans still see the world as a treacherous, often hostile place, and that concern certainly hasn’t gone away.”

Republican Anxiety Grows, While Worries Subside for Democrats, Independents

There are striking differences by party, however, with anxiety about foreign affairs skyrocketing among Republicans, even as Democrats and independents report their worries are declining. When the Anxiety Indicator is calculated by party, Republican worries have soared from a relatively low level of 108 in 2008 to 134 today. By contrast, Democratic anxiety — which was 142 in 2008 — has now fallen to relatively calm 104. Independents were at 140 in 2008 and are still fairly anxious at 128, but that’s a notable decline.

Download and read report — Confidence In U.S. Foreign Policy Index: Volume 7, Spring 2010

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Nine Themes of Outstanding Leaders Plus One

The British non-profit organization, The Work Foundation has released a paper on Exceeding Expectation: the principles of outstanding leadership (Authors:  Penny Tamkin, Gemma Pearson, Wendy Hirsh and Susannah Constable). It lists nine themes which characterize outstanding leaders.

1. Think systemically and act long-term
Outstanding leaders achieve through a combination of systemic thinking and acting for the long-term benefit of their organisation. They recognise the interconnected nature of the organisation and therefore act carefully.
2. Bring meaning to life
Outstanding leadership enables a strong and shared sense of purpose across the organisation. They emphasise emotional connection for people with a focus on passion and on ethical purpose.
3. Apply the spirit not the letter of the law
Outstanding leadership focuses on the few key systems and processes which help provide clarity, give structure, enable feedback, allow time for discussion and enable the development of vision. They use them to achieve outcomes rather than focus on the process, and put flexibility and humanity first.
4. Self-aware and authentic to leadership first, their own needs second
Outstanding leaders unite a deep understanding of others, high levels of self-awareness and a systemic appreciation of their symbolic position to become a role model for others.
5. Understand that talk is work
Outstanding leadership depends on trusting and positive relationships that are built over time for the long-term benefit of the people and their organisation. They spend a significant amount of time talking with people to understand what motivates and how they can support and boost enthusiasm in others.
6. Give time and space to others
Outstanding leaders both give significantly more time to people than non-outstanding leaders and allow their people considerably more freedom and influence over the work they do and how they do it.
7. Grow people through performance
Outstanding leaders passionately and constantly invest in their people and use the challenges presented every single day to encourage growth, learning and engagement.
8. Put ‘we’ before ‘me’
Outstanding leaders work hard on issues such as team spirit, shared decision making, collaborative working and a strong bond within and between teams. Sustainable performance comes from collective wisdom and intent, encouraging people to get involved, and giving them voice and autonomy.
9. Take deeper breaths and hold them longer
Outstanding leaders actively build trust by delivering on promises and acting with consistency, which in turn, leads to a sense of security and greater freedom of expression. They understand the power of trust to speed up interactions, enable people to take risks, diminish arguments or disputes and underpin innovation.
The report says that becoming an outstanding leader is likely to depend a great deal on maturity, self-awareness and self-development within the job. And points out that some of the outstanding leaders featured in the research did not originally have a people-focused approach, but realised the impact they were having on people and therefore adjusted their style accordingly.
The Work Foundation says it aims to improve the quality of working life and the effectiveness of organisations by equipping leaders, policymakers and opinion-formers with evidence, advice, new thinking and networks.
Read the whole thing here.
Perhaps this list of themes is missing a 10th item
Do no harm, especially when it comes to the office coffee pot. Outstanding leaders understand that people at work know how to use the office coffee pot properly.  They issue 3-page memos sparingly; in fact, only when people start using gin instead of water in their coffee.    
     


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Call in the Civilians. Pray Tell, From Where?!

Ron Capps is a peacekeeping program manager at Refugees International. According to FP, he served in Afghanistan as a soldier and in Iraq as a Foreign Service officer. He writes about Washington’s treatment of “civilian support as an afterthought” in the post 9/11 world. As a result, he writes, “the State Department’s ranks have been depleted and overstretched to the core. And the civilian half of warfare has suffered.” Read Call in the Civilians (Foreign Policy | October 26, 2009).

Excerpt below:

Development and diplomacy, like defense, are clearly defined and specialized fields. No one would task a USAID agricultural economist with helping develop Afghanistan’s or Iraq’s internal defense strategy. But with the current deficit of Foreign Service officers (FSOs) at the State Department and USAID, the government routinely tasks U.S. special operations forces with implementing development and public diplomacy tasks. One exasperated officer asked me, “How am I, as a military professional, supposed to know what’s best for the development of this country? That’s USAID’s job.” But there is no USAID officer in the area, so she soldiers on.

Worldwide, the State Department and USAID need about 5,000 new FSOs to conduct core and public diplomacy, oversee foreign assistance, and manage stabilization missions. The State Department has been hiring about 700 new officers a year, a rate that barely beats attrition in the rapidly graying Foreign Service. USAID is 75 percent smaller than it was a generation ago, and despite bringing in 300 officers a year, it is still not meeting the global demand for development specialists.

A rapidly graying Foreign Service, for sure. It doesn’t help that the State Department kicks you out as soon as you turn 65 … Well, whatever. They must know what they’re doing.

He also writes that “Colin Powell, for example, increased the Foreign Service by about 1,000 people a year. But most of these newbies went to consular and diplomatic security positions, not core and public diplomacy jobs. Condoleezza Rice asked Congress for 1,100 more FSOs annually, but she got considerably fewer.”

Consular are not core jobs?

Excuse me — Madam le Consul, we need you here, right now!

Okay, I will only politely quibble with the examples –

Actually, former Secretary Powell’ Diplomatic Readiness Initiative that began in 2001 hired 1,158 people above attrition.

According to AFSA, former Secretary Rice made the following staffing requests below. Note that these are not at “1,100 more FSOs annually.” She did not get to that solid round number until her last year in office:

FY-06: 221 requested, zero funded (140 created out of reprogrammed funds)
FY-07: 102 requested, zero funded
FY-08: 262 requested, eight funded
FY-09: 1,095 requested, unknown number funded (I’ll have to look this up)

In one staffing debacle in the 90’s that you may or may not remember, there were hundreds of unfilled positions in the State Department. The agency’s response was to smartly eliminate all the vacant positions. Yep, even then there was smart power at work — so then no more staffing holes. End of news story.

The 1990’s were lean years for the Foreign Service. This report says that deep staffing cuts under Secretary Christopher and Secretary Albright forced drastic reductions in professional and language training. Sure, we had a deficit but it had been steadily declining in the early part of the decade. In 1998, for the first time in 29 years, we enjoyed a $69 billion surplus. In FY2000, the estimated surplus was at least $230 billion.

But it was not about the money. 1991 also saw the end of the Soviet Union. And the peace dividend reared its ugly head, had USAID for starters, then ate USIA as one of the main courses in 1999.

The Foreign Affairs Council Task Force Report in 2003 says that seven blue-ribbon panels between 1998 and January 2001 detailed the disastrous impacts of 1990s budget cuts that reduced funding for the administration of foreign affairs from $5.05 billion in 1994 to $3.98 billion in 1996 to $3.64 billion in 2000 (expressed in constant 1996 dollars). Ambassador Bill Harrop writes in American Diplomacy that the “neglect in the 1990s allowed our diplomatic system to erode nearly to dysfunctionality.”

You’d think it could not possibly get worse. And then it did. The decade of GWOT saw not just 9/11 seared forever into our collective memories but also two wars, one now going on its 7th year, the other on its 9th year. Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan which started in October 7, 2001 has now costs us $230,174,475,000.00. The Iraq invasion in March 20, 2003 and post-war reconstruction has now cost us $695,004,700,000.00. By the time I finished writing this, it’ll be much more –see here.

At the State Department, Colin Powell initiated a hiring surge in 2001. The Diplomatic Readiness Initiative (DRI) was reportedly the brainchild of then Foreign Service Director General Marc Grossman. It was a three-year push to hire 1,158 employees over and above those hired to fill gaps created by attrition. This report has the hiring breakdown:

FY 2002:

467 Foreign Service Officers hired (229 in FY2001)
680 Foreign Service Specialists hired (298 in FY2001)
633 Civil Service employees hired (473 in FY2001)

FY2003
399 DRI positions

FY2004
399 DRI positions

By 2004 of course, the Iraq mess was in full swing.

Fast forward to 2006 – on January 18 that year, Secretary Rice outlined her vision for diplomacy changes that she referred to as “transformational diplomacy” to meet the 21st Century world. This new kind of diplomacy was about democracy-promotion overseas. The CRS reported that changes were made under existing authorities, but no legislation or new authority was requested from Congress.

I wrote previously about transformational diplomacy and the devils in the details here. A big deal was made about the global repositioning of Foreign Service personnel then. But on the fiscal year when this new transformational initiative was announced, Secretary Rice requested just 102 positions. None were funded by Congress. Without new funding or staffing, I thought of TD/global repositioning as nothing more than, frankly, avoiding the manholes in the global chessboard.

2007 is still remembered by some as the year when a muddy “near-revolt” happened in Foggy Bottom and diplomats were publicly threatened with directed assignments to Iraq. Just about everyone enjoyed the target; this one was the only one I remembered who tried to understand the fuller picture.

In the waning days of Secretary Rice’s tenure at the State Department there was understandably a big do to separate facts from myths (it’s harder than you think). AFSA tried to help. In it’s AFSANet message it also says that “Congress, at AFSA’s urging and with this Administration’s support, did include some FY-08 and FY-09 “bridge” funding for additional positions in the Iraq/Afghanistan War supplemental that was passed last summer. To our knowledge, State has not said how many new Foreign Service positions that funding permitted.”

In the long life of a bureaucracy, a well resourced agency like the Defense Department has hundreds of proud parents and godparents who can claim responsibility for its successes; but who claims responsibility for an underfunded/understaffed agency that must constantly wrestle with — well, people and paperclips?

And when we call in the civilians …and they’re nowhere around, we start thinking, “how could that be?They must be here somewhere, surely, they must be … just hiding somewhere? ... After all, to admit that they’re not here and were never around in the first place, is to open a whole can of critters that can bite just about everyone up and down this sorry road.

Related Post:
Separating Fact From Myth II: For the Record


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One Hand Clapping: The Sound of Staffing the Foreign Service


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Filed under Foreign Service, FS Funding, Secretary of State, Staffing the FS, State Department, T-Tank Reports

US Embassy Jakarta Runs FotObama Competition

Source: US Embassy Jakarta Facebook Page



You remember that US Ambassador to Indonesia Cameron Hume dived into a shark tank to celebrate Earth Day a few months back? The Embassy has also sponsored the “Ocean in Focus” competition. To celebrate our country’s 233rd birthday, it offered a special quiz about America, exclusively for its Facebook fans. It has also partnered with Smart FM producing “Smart Up Your Life,” a one-hour English language learning program aimed at young professionals who want to improve their English skills. The show featured music, a sharing session with local public figures (managers, employees, lecturers and others) as well as an interactive (call-in) session with listeners.

Now in time for President Obama’s 48th birthday, the embassy is running a competition for its Facebook fans creatively greeting the President on his birthday. Below is a quick rundown of the competition.

1. Snap It

Snap a photo showing you creatively wishing President Obama a “happy birthday” in time for his 48th birthday on August 4th.

2. Post It

Update your profile picture to that photo and add a caption. Then, link it by commenting on the U.S. Embassy’s Facebook Fan Page note about the “FotObama” Competition.

3. Win It

Win great prizes, like an iPod Shuffle, vouchers from Blitz Megaplex and Starbucks, Coca-Cola merchandise, and exclusive U.S. Embassy & Obama gear and memorabilia. We will also choose the best fan pictures as our Facebook profile picture.


This competition is presented by U.S. Embassy Jakarta, supported by Blitz Megaplex, Starbucks, and Coca-Cola.


Rules and Criteria:

  • This competition is exclusively for U.S. Embassy Jakarta Facebook Fans.
  • Employees if the U.S. Government and their families are not eligible for this competition.
  • Each participant may submit no more than 3 photos with the following specifications:

1. Photo should be posted to your Facebook account and set it as your profile picture.

2. Add a caption to the photo.

3. Photo should be the participant’s own work and free of any copyright other that his/her own personal copyright.

4. Photo must show you and your “happy birthday” wish to President Barack Obama in a creative way.

  • All decisions of the U.S. Embassy Facebook Team are final.
  • Prizes will be sent to the winners.
  • Limited to residents in Indonesia.


Deadline:

Submission will be closed on midnight WIB August 4, 2009.

Prizes:

§ iPod Shuffle

§ Blitz Megaplex voucher

§ Starbucks voucher

§ Coca-Cola merchandise

§ U.S. Embassy Jakarta pins & books

§ President Obama memorabilia

The US Embassy Jakarta Facebook page is one of the most active US Embassy Facebook pages around. It probably is not surprising that it also has an active community of 2,983 fans.

In a related note —

A new survey by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, conducted May 18 to June 16, finds signs of improvement in views of America in some predominantly Muslim countries that held overwhelmingly negative views of the United States in the Bush years. The most notable increase occurred in Indonesia, where people are well aware of Obama’s family ties to the country and where favorable ratings of the U.S. nearly doubled this year from 37% in 2008 to 63% in 2009. Read the full report including interactive graphics at pewglobal.org.

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Filed under Ambassadors, Obama, Public Diplomacy, T-Tank Reports, U.S. Missions

Up Close and Personal: Reconstruction & Stabilization Operations

Recent stabilization and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq have underlined the need for the United States to shift the burden of these operations away from the Defense Department and onto other government agencies better suited to the work, according to a study released last week by the RAND Corporation.

“The military isn’t the best agency for reconstruction and stabilization missions, even though it can get personnel and resources to a location quickly,” said Nora Bensahel, lead author of the study and senior political scientist with RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “Putting the military in charge of these tasks also sets a bad example because one of the key components of democratic theory is civilian control over the military,” Bensahel said. “If these tasks are highly or completely militarized, it raises fundamental doubts as to whether it is, indeed, democracy that is promoted by U.S. assistance.”

On Personnel Surge?

“Absent fundamental changes in organization and resources, the State Department and USAID will probably be more knowledgeable about stabilization and reconstruction issues than DoD but nowhere near as good at surging personnel in response to a crisis. Developing the capacity in civilian agencies to surge personnel and funding will need to be a key priority of senior U.S. leaders all the way up to the presidential level in order to spark changes in both capacity and organizational culture. The question is whether the State Department and USAID can develop and maintain the ability to surge personnel and funding in response to a crisis, or whether DoD will continue to be relied upon to undertake stabilization and reconstruction missions.”

The Lead Agency?

“If nation-building remains a foreign-policy priority for the United States but the majority of resources and capabilities for that priority are concentrated in DoD, that organization, which already has the military missions under its control, will become the lead agency for a major component of U.S. foreign policy. Such a development would weaken the role of the State Department, both at home and abroad. It would raise concerns about the weakening of civilian control over military policy and undermine U.S. diplomatic efforts around the world. In short, it would be a fundamental realignment of how the United States both sees itself and is seen globally.”

The study recommends that the United States:

  • emphasize civilian, rather than military, capacity in stability and reconstruction missions

  • realign the roles of the National Security Council, State Department and United States Agency for International Development rather than create new bureaucracies
  • fund and implement the Civilian Stabilization Initiative
  • improve the ability to deploy police officers for both community policing and specialized tasks
  • improve crisis management for stabilization and reconstruction missions
  • ensure coherent guidance and funding for effectiveness and sustainability.

Read the summary here. Read the whole thing here.

Related Item:

RAND: Improving Capacity for Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations
By: Nora Bensahel, Olga Oliker, Heather Peterson
Download: 0.5 MB pdf file; 105 pages

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Filed under Big Think, Defense Department, Interagency Cooperation, State Department, T-Tank Reports, USAID

Up Close and Personal: Reconstruction & Stabilization Operations

Recent stabilization and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq have underlined the need for the United States to shift the burden of these operations away from the Defense Department and onto other government agencies better suited to the work, according to a study released last week by the RAND Corporation.

“The military isn’t the best agency for reconstruction and stabilization missions, even though it can get personnel and resources to a location quickly,” said Nora Bensahel, lead author of the study and senior political scientist with RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “Putting the military in charge of these tasks also sets a bad example because one of the key components of democratic theory is civilian control over the military,” Bensahel said. “If these tasks are highly or completely militarized, it raises fundamental doubts as to whether it is, indeed, democracy that is promoted by U.S. assistance.”

On Personnel Surge?

“Absent fundamental changes in organization and resources, the State Department and USAID will probably be more knowledgeable about stabilization and reconstruction issues than DoD but nowhere near as good at surging personnel in response to a crisis. Developing the capacity in civilian agencies to surge personnel and funding will need to be a key priority of senior U.S. leaders all the way up to the presidential level in order to spark changes in both capacity and organizational culture. The question is whether the State Department and USAID can develop and maintain the ability to surge personnel and funding in response to a crisis, or whether DoD will continue to be relied upon to undertake stabilization and reconstruction missions.”

The Lead Agency?

“If nation-building remains a foreign-policy priority for the United States but the majority of resources and capabilities for that priority are concentrated in DoD, that organization, which already has the military missions under its control, will become the lead agency for a major component of U.S. foreign policy. Such a development would weaken the role of the State Department, both at home and abroad. It would raise concerns about the weakening of civilian control over military policy and undermine U.S. diplomatic efforts around the world. In short, it would be a fundamental realignment of how the United States both sees itself and is seen globally.”

The study recommends that the United States:

  • emphasize civilian, rather than military, capacity in stability and reconstruction missions

  • realign the roles of the National Security Council, State Department and United States Agency for International Development rather than create new bureaucracies
  • fund and implement the Civilian Stabilization Initiative
  • improve the ability to deploy police officers for both community policing and specialized tasks
  • improve crisis management for stabilization and reconstruction missions
  • ensure coherent guidance and funding for effectiveness and sustainability.

Read the summary here. Read the whole thing here.

Related Item:

RAND: Improving Capacity for Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations
By: Nora Bensahel, Olga Oliker, Heather Peterson
Download: 0.5 MB pdf file; 105 pages

Leave a comment

Filed under Big Think, Defense Department, Interagency Cooperation, State Department, T-Tank Reports, USAID

Quickie: Terrorized by Colonels with PowerPoint Slides

That Rand Report that you may have heard about says that the lack of an overarching campaign plan of real interagency character inhibits development of effective organizational structures, including headquarters in Afghanistan and Iraq. Mere interagency representation is insufficient. It requires the personnel or someone with the appropriate talent, personality, and rank.

Diplomats were being terrorized by colonels asking for decisions using PowerPoint slides. “That’s why we have to have ambassadors,” they say, “because if they aren’t ambassadors, they are terrorized by colonels with PowerPoint slides.” . . . I think this [Multi-National Force–Iraq] should be an interagency headquarters as well. . . . How often do you see an Iraqi officer in our headquarters? We have plenty in their headquarters. . . . We should have one campaign plan rather than two.


Intelligence Operations and Metrics in Iraq and Afghanistan
(pdf)
300 Interviews │318-page document
Rand Corporation, 2008 (p.208)

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Filed under Afghanistan, Ambassadors, Defense Department, Foreign Service, Interagency Cooperation, Iraq, T-Tank Reports, War

Quickie: Terrorized by Colonels with PowerPoint Slides

That Rand Report that you may have heard about says that the lack of an overarching campaign plan of real interagency character inhibits development of effective organizational structures, including headquarters in Afghanistan and Iraq. Mere interagency representation is insufficient. It requires the personnel or someone with the appropriate talent, personality, and rank.

Diplomats were being terrorized by colonels asking for decisions using PowerPoint slides. “That’s why we have to have ambassadors,” they say, “because if they aren’t ambassadors, they are terrorized by colonels with PowerPoint slides.” . . . I think this [Multi-National Force–Iraq] should be an interagency headquarters as well. . . . How often do you see an Iraqi officer in our headquarters? We have plenty in their headquarters. . . . We should have one campaign plan rather than two.


Intelligence Operations and Metrics in Iraq and Afghanistan
(pdf)
300 Interviews │318-page document
Rand Corporation, 2008 (p.208)

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Filed under Afghanistan, Ambassadors, Defense Department, Foreign Service, Interagency Cooperation, Iraq, T-Tank Reports, War