Officially In: Leslie Rowe to Maputo

On September 12 President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Leslie Rowe to be Ambassador to the Republic of Mozambique. The official bio released by the WH is below:

Leslie Rowe has served as U.S. Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu since 2006. A career diplomat and Minister Counselor in the Senior Foreign Service, Ambassador Rowe has previously been Deputy Chief of Mission at the American Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, the largest U.S. Embassy in Sub-Saharan Africa, from 2003 to 2006. Ambassador Rowe entered the Foreign Service in 1983.

From 2000 to 2003, she served as Consul General in Bangkok, Thailand with regional responsibilities for the Embassies in Burma, Cambodia and Laos. She was Consul General in Lisbon, Portugal from 1996 to 2000 and was the first Director of the State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues from 1994 to 1996. During her career in the Foreign Service, she also served in the Human Resources Office from 1993 to 1994 and was Country Desk Officer for Chile from 1992-1993. From 1988 to 1992 she was Principal Officer of the U.S. Consulate in Recife, where she covered political, economic and development issues in seven states in northeast Brazil. She also served as Deputy Consul General at the U.S. Embassy in San Jose, Costa Rica, from 1986 to1988 and consular officer in Sao Paulo, Brazil from 1984 to 1986.

Ambassador Rowe holds a B.A. from Washington State University, an M.A. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University and a M.Ed. from Northeastern University.

* * *

Embassy Lourenco Marques (now Maputo) was opened on Nov 8, 1975, with Johnnie Carson as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim. Ambassador Carson has been recalled from retirement and is now the top-gun at the AF Bureau in Foggy Bottom.

If confirmed Ambassador Rowe would succeed Helen R. Meagher La Lime who was appointed ambassador to Maputo from 2003-2006. William Raymond Steiger of Wisconsin, a godson of former President George H.W. Bush would have been the only non-career appointee in the short history of US Mission Mozambique. He was nominated by George W. on January 10, 2007, but the Senate had not acted on the nomination. The ambassador’s post in Maputo has been left vacant since December 2006. Todd C. Chapman has been the Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. since July 2007.

Related Item:
President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts, 9/11/09

Quickie: Hitting Bottom in Foggy Bottom

The State Department suffers from low morale, bottlenecks, and bureaucratic ineptitude. Do we need to kill it to save it?” That’s the question asked by Matt Armstrong in Foreign Policy. Armstrong is a principal with Armstrong Strategic Insights Group and a member of the Public Diplomacy Council. He publishes the public diplomacy and strategic communications blog Not a pretty read but needs a good reading. Excerpts below:

Years of neglect and marginalization, as well as a dearth of long-term vision and strategic planning, have left the 19th-century institution hamstrung with fiefdoms and bureaucratic bottlenecks. The Pentagon now funds and controls a wide range of foreign-policy and diplomatic priorities — from development to public diplomacy and beyond. The world has changed, with everyone from politicians to talking heads to terrorists directly influencing global audiences. The most pressing issues are stateless: pandemics, recession, terrorism, poverty, proliferation, and conflict. But as report after report, investigation after investigation, has highlighted, the State Department is broken and paralyzed, unable to respond to the new 21st-century paradigm.
Some commentators have even wondered aloud whether the best way to fix the State Department might be to destroy it. Foggy Bottom could retain a small core staff for its embassies and ambassadors. All other functions — such as public diplomacy, countering misinformation and propaganda, and development, including provincial reconstruction staffing — could migrate to the Pentagon or become wholly independent agencies.

But atomizing the State Department would ultimately prove dangerous and further the militarization of foreign policy. The Pentagon needs a counterbalance, a vertically integrated State Department that the president, Congress, and the U.S. public can count on. Change, rather than creative destruction, is what Foggy Bottom needs.

Read the whole thing here.

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Is this Super DCM job for you?

Map Source: OIG Report

The OIG inspection of US Embassy Cape Verde has been posted online. The inspection took place in Washington, DC, between January 21 and February 6, 2009, and in Praia, Cape Verde, between March 12 and 21, 2009. Praia is one of our smallest missions staffed by five American Department direct-hire employees and 78 Locally Employed (LE) staff. In addition, the MCC staffs one direct-hire position and four LE staff, and the Peace Corps staffs two direct-hire positions, three LE staff, and 53 volunteers throughout Cape Verde.

The Republic of Cape Verde is an Atlantic island nation located approximately 300 miles west of Senegal, off Africa’s west coast. It is comparable in total land size to Rhode Island. At the time of inspection, the mission was headed by Ambassador Marianne Myles (still the incumbent) and the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) was Patrick M. Dunn, who has since moved on.

I thought this report deserves some highlighting because the DCM job in this mission seems to be the Jack-or Jill-of-all trades requiring super multitasking and multi-functional skills. Here is what the OIG says about the DCM:

The DCM spends the largest portion of his time on Embassy management and on promoting the Embassy’s first goal of reducing illegal trafficking. He works closely with the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), the Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), the Cape Verdean Government and security forces, and senior LE staff to promote cooperative engagement and training to improve Cape Verde’s capacity to reduce illegal trafficking. The DCM’s responsibilities as management officer, post security officer, and coordinator of U.S. engagement on improving maritime security, stretch him very thin.

The deputy ambassador in this mission is not only the management officer, but also the general services officer, facilities management officer, HR officer and financial management officer. In the absence of a Regional Security Officer, he/she is also the post security officer. As if that is not enough multitasking for one person, the incumbent is apparently also the information systems security officer. It looks like the only thing this position is not tasked to do is conduct visa interviews and guard the embassy compound.

All throughout the report the IG lists down the flavor of this position:

  • The DCM’s responsibilities as management officer, post security officer, and coordinator of U.S. engagement on improving maritime security, stretch him very thin.
  • The management section is under the direction of the DCM, who serves in a dual capacity as management officer.
  • In addition to his direct responsibilities as management officer, the DCM also supervises the consular, economic, political, PD, security, and military portfolios
  • Because Embassy Praia does not have a direct-hire general services officer, GSO operations are under the direction of the DCM/management officer.
  • The DCM/management officer is the Embassy’s single real property manager and thus oversees the housing program.
  • The DCM/management officer provides overall direction, with the LE American general services officer responsible for daily operations
  • The DCM/management officer has overall responsibility for contracting and procurement. He also serves as the alternate contracting officer and has a warrant for acquisitions up to $250,000.
  • The DCM/management officer is the authorizing and approving official for all embassy travel and his LE staff secretary carries out the actual tasks associated with travel.
  • Property management and warehousing is another of the general services functions in the DCM/management officer portfolio, but it is under the direct supervision of the LE American general services officer.
  • Financial management operations are also under the direction of the DCM/ management officer, who serves as the primary certifying officer; funds control officer, and approving officer for cashier operations.
  • The DCM/management officer is responsible for overall direction of the Embassy human resources (HR) operation, and supervises one experienced LE staff HR assistant.
  • With the leadership of the DCM and the drive of the Ambassador’s office management specialist (OMS), the Praia information management section provides adequate support for the entire mission. The Embassy has no American professional information management (IM) staff. The OMS and the DCM manage all IM responsibilities.
  • The DCM is responsible for overseeing IM operations and providing direct American oversight of the information systems center. Although the DCM also serves as management officer and has numerous other responsibilities outlined earlier in this report, he spends the time needed to perform his information systems security officer (ISSO) duties.
  • In the absence of a separate management officer however, the DCM serves as control officer or alternate for about 20 other specific functions relating to management controls.
  • Review of Embassy Praia’s Consolidated Consular Database reveals that the DCM formally reviews both the consular section chief ’s and the part-time vice consul’s decisions regularly.

The OIG report also states that the Embassy has vigorously presented its case for additional management staffing to the Department. Praia requested a general services officer/information management officer position in its rightsizing report in 2006, and again in a revised version in May 2008, but the Office of Policy, Rightsizing, and Innovation did not approve the request. The Embassy then requested a management officer position in its FY 2010 MSP submission, and discussion continues with AF. The OIG team believes that the Embassy request has merit, but competing demands for Department resources will require that the embassy prepare a strong case. Specifically, the need must be demonstrated through the performance metrics and uniform service standards contained in the Collaborative Management Initiative. Given the management demands on the DCM, the Embassy justification should also document the negative impact of his inability to carry out supervision, staff development, and other responsibilities in his portfolio.

Demand for resources – right. Baghdad has two management officers; Kabul has one deputy ambassador and at least two assistant ambassadors that I am aware of. Who knows how many ends up in Pakistan before long? Cape Verde is in the middle of the Atlantic, of course; why would it be on anyone’s radar screen?

Things to keep in mind if you want this super-job:

#1. Multitasking is a human delusion. This neuroscientist says that when you multitask you’re not paying attention to one or two things simultaneously, but switching between them very rapidly because similar tasks compete to use the same part of the brain. Read this one, too.

#2. Don’t hold your breath on AF. You need eyes in the back of your head for oversight, four ambidextrous hands to sign all that needed signing, six legs to get everywhere you need to be – and that’s just for starters.

#3. You cannot ever get sick, period.

Related Item:
OIG Report: Embassy Praia, Cape Verde | Report Number ISP-I-09-41A
June 2009

What the Soviets Overlooked in Afghanistan

Soviet Afghanistan FightersImage by elmada via Flickr

On May 10, 1988, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the USSR issued a “closed” (internal use) letter to all Communist Party members of the Soviet Union on the issue of withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. The letter presents the Central Committee analysis of events in Afghanistan and Soviet actions in that country, the problems and the difficulties the Soviet troops had to face in carrying out their mission. In particular, the letter stated that important historic and ethnic factors were overlooked when the decisions on Afghanistan were made in the Soviet Union. The letter analyzes Soviet interests in Afghanistan and the reasons for the withdrawal of troops.

The decision was made in the conditions when there was a lot of uncertainty in the balance of forces within the Afghan society. [Our] picture of the real social and economic situation in the country was also insufficiently clear. We do not want to say it, but we should: at that time, we did not even have a correct assessment of the unique geographical features of that hard-to-enter country. That found its reflection in the operations of our troops against small highly mobile units, where very little could be accomplished with the help of modern military technology.

In addition, [we] completely disregarded the most important national and historical factors, above all the fact that the appearance of armed foreigners in Afghanistan was always met with arms in the hands [of the population]. This is how it was in the past, and this is how it happened when our troops entered [Afghanistan], even though they came there with honest and noble goals.

Babrak Karmal became head of the Afghan government at the time. His first steps in that capacity gave grounds to hope that he would be able to solve the problems facing his country. However, nothing new had emerged in his policy, which could have changed the attitude of the significant portion of the Afghan population to the new regime to the better. Moreover, the intensity of the internal Afghan conflict continued to grow, and our military presence was associated with forceful imposition of customs alien to the national characteristics and feelings of the Afghan people, which did not take into account the multiple forms of economic life, and other characteristics, such tribal and religious ones.

One has to admit that essentially we put our bets on the military solution, on suppressing the counterrevolution with force. We did not even fully use the existing opportunities for neutralization of the hostile attitudes of the local population towards us. We have to assess critically some aspects of functioning of our adviser apparatus in Afghanistan as well. It did many things to provide assistance in strengthening the PDPA and the people’s regime. However, often our people, acting out of their best intentions, tried to transplant the approached we are accustomed to onto the Afghan soil, encouraged the Afghans to copy our ways. All this did not help our cause, it bred the feelings of dependency on the part of the Afghan leaders in regard to the Soviet Union both in the sphere of military operations and in the economic sphere.

Meanwhile the war in Afghanistan continued, and our troops were getting engaged in extensive combat actions. The situation developed, which made any way out more and more difficult as the time passed. Combat action is combat action. Our losses in dead and wounded—and the CC CPSU believes it has no right to hide this—were growing, and becoming more and more heavy. Altogether, by the beginning of May 1988, we lost 13,310 people [dead] in Afghanistan; 35,478 Soviet officers and soldiers were wounded, many of whom became disabled; 301 people are missing in action. There is a reason that people say that each person is a unique world, and when a person dies, that world disappears forever. The loss of every person is very hard and irreparable, it is hard and sacred if one died carrying out one’s duty.

The Afghan losses, naturally, were much heavier [than ours], including the losses among the civilian population.

One should not disregard the economic factor either. If the enemy in Afghanistan received weapons and ammunition for hundreds of millions and later even billions of dollars, the Soviet-Afghan side also had to shoulder adequate expenditures. The war in Afghanistan costs us 5 billion rubles a year.

Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

May 10, 1988

CC CPSU Letter on Afghanistan, May 10, 1988
PDF | From The National Security Archive
[Source: Alexander Lyakhovsky, Tragedy and Valor of Afghan, Iskon, Moscow 1995, Appendix 8, Translated by Svetlana Savranskaya]

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