Photo of the Day: Mongolian Sledgehammer – Do Not/Not Try This at Home

A Mongolian service member uses a sledgehammer to smash a concrete block off the chest of another serve member during a martial arts demonstration by Mongolian military forces at the Mongolian Day ceremony Feb. 18, at International Security Assistance Force Headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan.

U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kris Levasseur

(U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kris Levasseur)

According to ISAF, Mongolia has been part of the mission since 2010, contributing more than 100 troops in Afghanistan. They are involved in the training of Afghan National Army in Kabul and providing stability and security to Afghan populations in the northern part of the country.

 

 

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Officially In: Jeffrey D. Levine – from HR to Estonia

On February 16, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Jeffrey D. Levine to the next Ambassador to the Republic of Estonia. The WH released the following brief bio:

Jeffrey D. Levine, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, has served as the State Department’s Office Director of Recruitment, Examination and Employment since September 2010.  Prior to this position, he was Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest, Hungary from 2007 to 2010.  From 2003 to 2006, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Sofia, Bulgaria.  Other overseas positions include: Management Counselor in Brasilia, Brazil (1999-2002); Management Officer in Nicosia, Cyprus (1995-1998); Consular/General Services Officer in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (1988-1990); and Consular/Political Officer in Lima, Peru (1985-1987).  In Washington, Mr. Levine served as Special Assistant in the Office of the Under Secretary for Management (1994-1995), Hungary Desk Officer in the Office of Eastern European Affairs (1993-1994), and Watch Officer in the State Operations Center (1992-1993).

He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Humboldt State University and a Master’s Degree from National Defense University.

US Embassy Tallinn was established on October 2, 1991, with Robert C. Frasure as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim, also subsequently commissioned as Ambassador. If confirmed, Mr. Levine would succeed career diplomat, Michael C. Polt who was appointed chief of mission to Tallinn by President Obama in 2009.

A nice coincidence of note — the most recent Office Director of Recruitment, Examination and Employment (HR/REE), that is, Mr. Levine’s predecessor was appointed Ambassador to Iceland in 2010. Another previous Office Director who served in HR/REE was appointed Ambassador to Cape Verde in 2008.  So just in the last five years or so, all career diplomats who served as top gun in REE went on to an ambassadorship.  That is a pretty darn good record.

 

Related item:

February 16, 2012 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

 

 

Officially In: Mark A. Pekala – from HR to Latvia

On February 17, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Mark A. Pekala as the next Ambassador to the Republic of Latvia. The WH released the following brief bio:

Mark A. Pekala, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, is currently the Director of the Entry-Level Division in the Bureau of Human Resources.  Previously, he served as the Deputy Chief of Mission in France (2007-2010), Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs (2005-2007), and the Deputy Chief of Mission in Estonia (2002-2005).  In 2001, Mr. Pekala was Director for Russian Affairs for the National Security Council.  Mr. Pekala’s previous Washington posts have included: Senior Watch Officer in the Department of State Operations Center; Special Assistant to the Ambassador-at-Large for the New Independent States; and Russia Desk Officer.  Additional overseas assignments have included: First Secretary to the U.S. Mission to NATO in Belgium; Political Officer in Azerbaijan; and a Consular Officer in Poland.

Mr. Pekala received a B.A. from the University of Michigan, an M.I.A. from Columbia University, and an M.Phil. from Columbia University.

If confirmed, Mr. Pekala would succeed career diplomat, Judith Garber who was appointed by President Obama to the US Embassy in Riga in 2009.

 

Related item:
February 17, 2012 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

 

 

Officially In: Makila James – from WHA to Swaziland

On February 17, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Makila James as the next Ambassador to the Kingdom of Swaziland. The WH released the following brief bio:

Makila James, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, currently serves as the Director of the Office of Caribbean Affairs at the Department of State.  From 2007 to 2009, she was the Deputy Director of the Office of Southern African Affairs.  From 2006 to 2007, she was the Principal Officer of the Consulate General in Juba.  Previously, Ms. James was a member of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff from 2003 to 2006.  Other positions in Washington include: Research Fellow at the Georgetown University Institute for the Study of Diplomacy; International Relations Officer in the Office of International Organization Affairs; Desk Officer in the Office of West African Affairs; and Watch Officer at the Operations Center. Overseas assignments include: Political Officer in Zimbabwe; Political/Economics Officer in Nigeria; and Consular Officer in Jamaica.

Ms. James received a B.A. from Cornell University, a Masters in National Security Studies from the National Defense University, and a J.D. from Columbia University Law School.

 

If confirmed, Ms. James would succeed career diplomat, Earl Irving who was appointed by President Obama as chief of mission to the US Embassy in Mbabane in 2009.

 

Related item:
February 17, 2012 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts