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The State Department’s OIG has recently released its inspection report of US Embassy London (OIG Report No. ISP-I-09-37A | July 2009). It talks about a lot of things, as these reports tend to systematically go through the different sections of the embassy and look at issues like management control, morale, etc. But I’m struck by what it says about linked assignments. This is a relatively new practice in the State Department of linking one-year assignments to Iraq and Afghanistan with the next onward assignment as part of the war zone incentive package:
“Another challenge has been the absorption of a large number of officers – 60 currently serving in London – who have returned from duty at extreme hardship posts such as Kabul or Baghdad with high expectations of a London tour of duty. Some lack the requisite debriefing or training.”
Elsewhere in the report the OIG writes:
“The impact on London’s ability to manage its staffing and the quality of its work is significant. For example, the current regional security officer (RSO) could only be assigned for a short tour in London (18 months) as his position had already been promised to an officer due to depart Iraq. Other positions have been or will be filled by returnees who have no experience or training for the work they will assume in London.
For example, by 2010 there will be only one officer in London’s large and busy economic section who has served previously as an economic officer. This gradual accretion of tied assignments in London’s staffing pattern has had the unintended impact of putting many positions in London out of reach for virtually all bidders, regardless of how qualified, except for returnees.”
Bob Barker in the old days signs off with, “Hoping all your consequences are happy ones.” I hope so, too. I hope so, too.
Quickie: Gunning for London via Baghdad? Better Hurry
OIG Report No. ISP-I-09-37A | July 2009: US Embassy London, England