Civilian Surge for Afghanistan, Once More…

Somebody was interested on real numbers at the Daily Press Briefing on May 18th. Today, a response to the taken question:

Question: How many (new and increased) civilian personnel will the State Department be sending and what is the timeline for their arrival?

Answer: The primary mission of the civilian staff in Kabul and the field is to build the capacity of the Afghan government at all levels and help strengthen the ties between the government and the governed. The civilian plan is totally integrated with the military plan and reflects the strong partnership between U.S. civilians and military. The deployment of civilians is timed to synchronize with the deployment of the military units with which they will be working, beginning in early this summer and extending into early 2010.

We already have identified more than fifty civilians who will be in position by early summer. These committed men and women represent a 50 % increase to our current civilian staffing outside of Kabul. They will deploy in the east and south, the same areas which are the focus of U.S troop increases. Hundreds more will follow.

The State Department is already assigning additional U.S. Foreign Service Officers and hiring highly qualified Americans from the private sector, many of whom have extensive experience in Afghanistan or civil-military operations. Civilians will receive tailored training, including with US military, to ensure maximum effectiveness upon arrival in country.

The United States is working closely with the Afghan government and its international partners on determining the right number and mix of civilians throughout Afghanistan. We will continue to review the U.S. civilian deployment plan to determine whether additional civilians are required to meet needs identified in the field. We will be using all hiring authorities and creative mechanisms to ensure that the right people are in place at the right time.

Didn’t Afghanistan recently presented its Civilian Surge Plan in Washington, with reportedly a “total of 676 requests for technical advisors from 22 Government Ministries?” Spencer Ackerman reports that the “positions would be based in the capital, Kabul, as well as out in the provinces, where the Afghan government has had a difficult time consistently providing services for its citizens.”

SFRC Clears Feltman, Crowley & Benjamin

The SFRC cleared the nominations of three more nominees for the State Department yesterday: Feltman, Crowley and Benjamin. They now joined two other nominees, Burk and Koh, who previously cleared the Senate panel and are currently awaiting the confirmation vote of the full Senate.

Jeffrey D. Feltman, of Ohio, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister- Counselor, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Near Eastern Affairs), vice C. David Welch, resigned.

Philip J. Crowley, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Public Affairs), vice Sean Ian McCormack, resigned.

Daniel Benjamin, of the District of Columbia, to be Coordinator for Counterterrorism, with the rank and status of Ambassador at Large, vice Dell L. Dailey, resigned.

May 19, 2009 Reported by Mr. Kerry, Committee on Foreign Relations, without printed

Susan Flood Burk, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Executive Service, to be Special Representative of the President, with the rank of Ambassador.

Harold Hongju Koh, of Connecticut, to be Legal Adviser of the Department of State, vice John B. Bellinger III, resigned.

May 13, 2009 Reported by Mr. Kerry, Committee on Foreign Relations, without printed

Meanwhile the following nominations are still pending in the Committee on Foreign Relations:

Philip L. Verveer, Capricia Penavic Marshall, Ellen O. Tauscher, Andrew J. Shapiro, Eric P. Schwartz, Eric P. Goosby, Robert Orris Blake, Jr., Kurt M. Campbell, Bonnie D. Jenkins and Judith A. McHale.

AFSA Constructive Dissent Awards

I just saw this announcement from AFSA. This year’s AFSA awards for intellectual courage, initiative, and integrity in the context of constructive dissent will be presented to the following Foreign Service employees who demonstrated the courage to speak out and challenge the system, despite the possible consequences. The announcement says that each will receive a certificate of recognition and $2,500 for their unique actions and courage.

The Tex Harris Award for a Foreign Service Specialist was awarded to Barron I. Rosen, a diplomatic courier based in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Honorable mention is also given to three colleagues of Mr. Rosen: Kelli Cook, Kathleen Betso and Eileen School. Mr. Rosen spoke out against unsafe practices which impacted the duties of the couriers assigned to travel to Central American posts. Couriers were required to travel on unsafe cargo planes for up to 20 hours. The cargo company required all the couriers to sign a liability waiver. Mr. Rosen objected to this waiver which would not allow them to bring action against the company in the event of an accident or gross negligence. After considerable persistence on the part of Mr. Rosen, management cancelled the arrangement with the cargo company and the couriers now fly on commercial carriers.

The William R. Rivkin Award for a mid-level Foreign Service Officer will be presented to two separate individuals. Jeffrey S. Collins, a political officer at U.S. Embassy Ankara, and Michael C. Gonzales, Political/Economic Counselor at U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa will each receive the award.

Jeffrey Collins worked hard to improve the protection of human rights in Turkey and to raise awareness of the need to reform and improve the State Departments system of human rights reporting. He challenged both the Embassy leadership and State Department officials on existing policies for meeting with human rights activists, and he made specific recommendations on how to improve the human rights reporting process.

Michael Gonzales worked diligently within the proper channels to rebalance U.S. foreign policy toward Ethiopia to better advance U.S. long-term interests. He challenged the status quo to draw attention to the authoritarian policies of the Ethiopian government despite significant resistance from the State Department and Africa Bureau and succeeded in having his recommendations included in the Embassy’s report to the transition team.

–There were no winners this year of the Harriman Award for a junior-level officer, or the Herter Award for a senior-level officer.

Related Post:
Wanted: Patron Saint for Dissenting Diplomats

Related Item:
AFSA Past Award Winners