US Embassy Conakry on Ordered Departure

Map from CIA World Factbook

The U.S. Department State has ordered the departure of non-emergency personnel and eligible family members of the U.S. Embassy in Conakry, Guinea on October 1. This occurred days after the country’s military units opened fire on civilians and clashed with protesters at an opposition rally that killed over 150 people. The violence came about reportedly when political parties and trade unions defied the ruling National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD) military junta’s protest ban. The protest was organized against reports that CNDD Leader Moussa Dadis Camara might run for president in the January 2010 election.

The embassy evacuation is for an initial period of ten days according to the mission’s warden message. The message also indicates that the Embassy is prepared to assist U.S. citizens who wish to depart from Guinea. The Department of State issued a travel warning for Guinea, quick excerpt provided below:

“The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to Guinea due to continuing civil unrest and the unpredictable nature of the current security situation. U.S. citizens are advised that the Department of State has ordered the departure of non-emergency personnel and eligible family members of the U.S. Embassy in Conakry, Guinea.

The U.S. Embassy in Guinea will be open for emergency American Citizens Services only. Citizens should be aware that depending on the security situation, the Embassy may be forced to suspend operations without advance notice. The international airport in Conakry is currently operating normally, however, flights may be suspended if the current security situation worsens. Land borders are also open at this time, but may close without warning. U.S. citizens who remain in Guinea despite this Travel Warning are urged to stay in their homes until the security situation returns to normal, to closely monitor media reports, and to follow all official instructions. U.S. citizens who must leave their homes for any reason are urged to exercise extreme caution, be particularly alert to their surroundings, and to avoid crowds, demonstrations, or any other form of public gathering. Visitors to Guinea should be familiar with their hotel evacuation plans, policies, or procedures. U.S. citizens in Guinea should carry their travel documents (i.e., passport, birth certificate, picture ID’s, etc.) with them at all times. Additionally, U.S. citizens in the area are reminded to stay in contact with friends and family in the United States to keep them apprised of their current welfare and whereabouts.”

Related Item:
OSAC: Guinea Violence | 091002 Guinea Violence.pdf

It’s That Time of Year

If you know folks in the Foreign Service, you know that they have their ears on the ground for a few weeks now listening for promotion news. The Senior Foreign Service list came out in late September, the FS-03 to FS-02 mid-level list came out late last week (thanks Digger!), the rest should come out any day now. (I’ll add the links here once AFSA post the lists online).

Congratulations to Ambassador Christopher Dell (formerly DCM at US Embassy Kabul and most recently confirmed as US Ambassador to Kosovo) for his promotion to Career-Minister (that’s equivalent to a 3-star general). Also promoted to the rank of Career-Minister are: Ambassador David Pearce, currently of US Embassy Algeria and Ambassador Michael Ranneberger, currently of US Embassy Kenya. Stephen Mull, currently Acting Assistant Secretary for Political Military and Marcie Ries, currently the DAS at the VCI Bureau were also promoted to the same rank.

Unlike the private sector, promotion in the FS does not come immediately with a top floor office or a new position. It does allow you to bid for higher rank-jobs when you rotate to a new assignment. Those bidding now most probably have two bid lists, one if they get promoted, the other one if they don’t. And with promotion you get bigger responsibilities (and bigger headaches) and more people to supervise as you go up the career ladder. If you break into the mid-level or the Senior Foreign Service, it also means larger square footage in assigned housing (based on position rank and family size). If you are the Ambassador, DCM, or principal officer, you get an official Pickard China fine china dining set, an official residence expense reimbursable account and at least 12-14 dining room seating. (I can’t tell if the embassy china is embossed with the Great Seal eagle crest in 24 karat gold like the presidential grade china).

In any case, in the competitive nature of the diplomatic service, we have yet to hear of anyone turn down a position because it carries a bigger headache. With that in mind, a promotion tanka ….

with this promotion
a top floor office—quietly
my crowded inbox
waves a flag, two aspirins
on my desk, makes a fun wag

Related Items:

Rank Tiers and Grade Equivalents
15 FAM 260: Guidelines for Allocating Residential Space

Space Standards Charts
15 FAM 230: Allocating Residential Space

Insider Quote: Ranks and Pastry Forks

Image by Le Petit Poulailler via Flickr

Rank within diplomatic culture is not merely indicated by how the diplomat holds him or herself. There are many subtle signs that a trained eye will pick up upon to determine a diplomat’s rank. It is not just the salary grade and title that are changed when a diplomat is promoted. There is also a change in the number of rooms and bathrooms in the home and the contents of drawers and cupboards, all in line with to the Ministry’s strict rules. According to the Danish Foreign Ministry, the embassy counsellor must have eighteen stainless steel pastry forks of the Erik Rosendahl A/S brand. A commercial counsellor need only have twelve pastry forks, while an attaché is provided with eight. The most distinguished ambassadors have three pepper pots while the others must be content with two.”

Source: The Hidden Culture of Diplomat Practice: A Study of the Danish Foreign Service – Mette Boritz –