Officially In: Robert S. Ford to Damascus

great mosque of damascus 709-15 AD, syria, eas...Image by seier+seier+seier via Flickr

On February 16, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Robert Stephen Ford to be Ambassador to the Syrian Arab Republic. The WH released the following official bio:

Robert Stephen Ford is presently Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy Baghdad, Iraq. Mr. Ford is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Ambassador to Algeria on May 27, 2006, and sworn in on August 11, 2006. Mr. Ford served from 2004 until 2006 and again from 2008 until 2009 as the Political Counselor to the U.S. Embassy Baghdad, Iraq and was Deputy Chief of Mission in Bahrain from 2001 until 2004.

Mr. Ford has also served in a number of other posts since entering the Foreign Service in 1985, including Izmir, Cairo, Algiers, and Yaoundé. Mr. Ford earned a Master of Arts in 1983 from Johns Hopkins University. He is a recipient of a number of Department of State awards, including the 2005 James Clement Dunn Award for outstanding work at the mid-level in the Foreign Service as well as three Superior Honor Awards and two Meritorious Honor awards. Mr. Ford speaks German, Turkish, French, and Arabic.

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According to this bio from the Bush WH archives (2006), Ambassador Ford grew up in Denver, Colorado. He earned his Bachelors’ Degree from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland and his Masters Degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C.
Prior to joining the Foreign Service as an Economics Officer in 1985, Mr. Ford served in the Peace Corps in Morocco. Mr. Ford’s assignments have included Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, Cameroon, and Bahrain, where he served as the Deputy Chief of Mission.
Mr. Ford went from Bahrain to Iraq to open the CPA office in Najaf, where he served from August to December 2003. In June 2004, he returned to Iraq to standup the Political Section in the new American Embassy. Mr. Ford worked closely with Iraqi authorities in advance of the January 2005 elections, the establishment of the transition government, the writing of the new constitution, the October 2005 referendum and, finally, the December 2005 national elections.
His awards include three Superior Honor Awards, two Meritorious Honor Awards, and the State Department’s 2005 James Clement Dunn Award for Excellence that recognizes leadership, intellectual skills, managerial ability, and personal qualities that most fully exemplify the standards of excellence desired of employees at the mid-career level. Mr. Ford and his wife Alison, who is also a Foreign Service Officer serving in Baghdad, make their home in Baltimore, Maryland.
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Please Lend Your Support to “Global Spouses”

New EFM Amy Pratt has recently started a blog called Global Spouses – check it out here:
This is her mission statement: to facilitate the opportunity to patronize spouse owned businesses within the Foreign Service by building a business network.  Many spouses would like the opportunity to use their skills in a fulfilling career while overseas but not every country offers employment opportunities. This blog will showcase the spouses who have created their own job opportunities and give Foreign Service members easy access to these businesses. The Foreign Service is very much like a large extended family; let’s do our best to support one another.
If you are a Trailing Spouse and would like your business included send her an email. You get a free listing for your business and you’ll be in a network of similar minded entrepreneurs in the Foreign Service.   
AAFSW has a running list of business and professional websites here. The blog Diplomatic Pickle also has a side bar listing FS entrepreneurs.   But there are a lot more out there who are not listed – photojournalists like this one, freelance writers, personal chefs, personal trainers, pastry chefs, accountants, life coaches, executive coaches, etc., etc.  This might be the first real attempt to actually build a networked blogs of Foreign Service entrepreneurs.  I think it’s a marvelous thing! And if a conversation can get going, imagine the possibilities …   
I asked Amy, the seamstress turned blogger what got her started on this. Amy said that she thought of a blog when she began reading about the excitement and fears of newly minted FSO spouses.  She also said that she joined a few FS online discussions and one of the main concerns of the spouses was whether or not they would be able to find fulfilling careers, as well as concerns about living on one income. 

“Though this is my first experience as an FSO spouse, I have been trailing my journalist husband all over the US for the past 15 years and know what it is like to look for fulfilling work.  Four years ago I decided I didn’t want to have to reinvent myself professionally every few years so I thought of something that would earn money and fulfill me professionally.  The result was a small at home business: Sweet Wee Bairn.  I started making and selling breastfeeding aprons online and within 3 months was earning enough money to make our mortgage payment.  I cannot tell you how that transformed me.  I became incredibly proud of myself and more independent, etc.  It was just a good feeling.

I am also a big fan of buying locally and supporting the community in which I live which is how I came up with the idea of the Global Spouses Blog.   I am now part of a larger global community and want to support it.  I wanted to know who was selling what, where or offering which services to whom and wanted very much to keep the $$ in my new FSO family but couldn’t find a directory so [I] made my own.” 
Amy is the owner of Sweet Wee Bairn Nursing Covers at Her shop also has a blog here: Oh, and check out those Amy Butler prints; they are absolutely gorgeous! 
I hope you’ll stop by and lend your support to Global Spouses.   

Gordon Adams’ Book: Buying National Security

Stimson Center fellow, Gordon Adams has released a new book entitled, Buying National Security (How America Plans and Pays for Its Global Role and Safety at Home). Quick blurb: 

The tools of American statecraft—defense, diplomacy, foreign and security assistance, homeland security and intelligence—are rarely examined together. Adams and Williams fill this gap by examining how these tools work, how they are planned for, and how they are budgeted. Seeing policy through the lens of the budget can help decision makers and ordinary citizens discern the genuine priorities of national leaders from the oftentimes illusory ones portrayed in rhetoric. Simply put, policies and strategies cannot be carried out without a corresponding allocation of resources.

Buying National Security weaves a tapestry around the institutions, organizations, tools, and processes that support planning and resource allocation across the breadth of the American national security enterprise. The authors analyze the planning and resource integration activities across agencies of the Executive branch as well as examine the structure and processes the Congress uses to carry out its national security oversight and budgetary responsibilities. Finally, they review the adequacy of the current structures and process and evaluate proposals for ways both might be reformed to fit the demands of the 21st century security environment.

Quick reviews from a couple of old foreign policy hands:
Gordon Adams and Cindy Williams have accomplished a rare feat: producing the first major study of how America budgets for national security while simultaneously substantiating the eternal political truth that money is policy.
Marc Grossman, Principal, Cohen Group; Former Director General of the Foreign Service
Gordon Adams and Cindy Williams write with deep knowledge and authority about the complex and difficult problems of funding our foreign policy and national security programs and objectives. Clear and concise, this book is a treasure trove of information on a vitally important and almost always difficult and confusing subject.
Tom Pickering, Vice-Chairman of Hills and Company; former Under Secretary of State; former Ambassador to the United Nations
Buying National Security is published by Routledge Books at can be purchased through the publisher or at
Gordon Adams is a Distinguished Fellow at the Stimson Center and a professor in the US Foreign Policy field at American University. Mr. Adams was most recently a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. For the previous seven years, he was a Professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University and Director of the Schools Security Policy Studies Program. He was previously Deputy Director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, and served for five years as the Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget as the senior White House budget official for national security.
He is a columnist for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. His writings are also posted in Budget Insight, the Stimson Center blog on National Security Spending.
You can follow him on Twitter at

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Insider Quote: from last one out to first one on

“My time in ACS came to a close today, and now I’m suddenly POL — or in other words, I’ve abruptly gone from being the last person evacuated from post in the event of a disaster, the one most necessary in a crisis, to being the first one on the plane.”

in Superfluous
from FS Blog Adventures in Good Countries