Posted: 4:16 am ET
Last week, FP reported that Tracey Ann Jacobson, 52, a career foreign service officer who served as Acting Assistant Secretary of the Bureau for International Organization Affairs (IO), announced her plans to take early retirement to her staff. The current Assistant Secretary of State of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs William R. Brownfield who was appointed to post in January 10, 2011, reportedly also told his bureau that he would step down by the end of September. Just a few weeks ago, Ambassador Brownfirled was still rumored as in the running for the WHA post. The two departures in addition to the Acting Assistant Secretary of the European Affairs Ambassador John Heffern who also stepped down from post before the confirmation of the EUR nominee.
With the exception of EUR, no nominees have been announced for IO or INL, which means, the musical chairs will continue in Foggy Bottom. In the case of Ambassador Heffern, he is stepping down prior to the confirmation of the EUR nominee Wess Mitchell (2017-07-25 PN816 Department of State | A. Wess Mitchell, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (European and Eurasian Affairs)). Presumably, the nominee will be confirmed but we won’t really know until it happens or when. As of this writing, Mr. Mitchell’s nomination is pending in the SFRC and no hearing schedule has been announced. This has now become a trend in Foggy Bottom — acting assistant secretaries replaced with other acting assistant secretaries absent the nomination of actual nominees. Which doesn’t make sense, folks adjusting to these new bosses who will be gone when later new bosses will be appointed to take their places.
It could always get worse, of course. Maybe you’ll show up for work on Monday reporting to a two-eyed new boss, and by Friday, you get a three-eyed new boss.
We don’t know who will be in acting capacities for IO and INL but we were informed that Ambassador Elisabeth I. Millard, a career diplomat who was sworn in as the United States Ambassador to Tajikistan on December 14, 2015 is coming in a Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State (PDAS) and presumably will be acting EUR pending the Mitchell confirmation. Under normal times, she would be on a typical 3-year tour so she would not be expected to rotate out of Tajikistan until next year. But these are abnormal times. Abnormal times in more ways than one. Would anyone actually be surprised if it turns out that a top official is pushed out in all likelihood because of a tweet?