Posted: 1:12 am ET
Congress first authorized the position of Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs in the Department of State Organization Act of July 30, 1959. Under Secretary Tom Shannon is the 22nd incumbent to the third highest ranking position in Foggy Bottom since 1959. He is only the 16th career diplomat to be appointed as “P”. He was nominated by President Obama in September 2015 but he did not get confirmed until February 2016. He officially signed his appointment and assumed post in April 2016, so he’s barely two years on the job. We understand that he recently turned 60 years old and wants to set a new direction in his life but we should also note that he is five years short of the mandatory Foreign Service retirement age inscribed in the Foreign Service Act of 1980.
Signed “Warm Regards, Tom Shannon,” the following is the text of the note addressed to friends and colleagues sent by the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs announcing his retirement from the Foreign Service and the State Department:
Yesterday I spoke with the Secretary and informed him of my decision to retire from the United States Foreign Service and the Department of State. After more than 34 years of service to our great Republic, I have decided that it is time to step aside. I do so confident in the next generation of Foreign Service leadership, and proud of what we have accomplished across four decades of American diplomacy.
My decision is personal, and driven by a desire to attend to my family, take stock of my life, and set a new direction for my remaining years.
The Secretary has asked me to stay on until my successor is named, and to ensure a smooth transition to the new Under Secretary for Political Affairs. I have agreed to do so.
I want to express my profound gratitude to the Secretary and the President for the privilege of serving at the highest levels of the Department during this past year. I have had the honor of serving under six presidents and ten secretaries of state. All have been extraordinary public servants and great Americans. As with each of you, my service has been defined by our oath of office and the commitment we make to protect and defend our Constitution, our institutions, and our values. Underlying this commitment is our deep respect for the will of the American people and a determination to advance the interests and well-being of our nation by ensuring the success of our elected governments. The sense of duty and obligation that this implies, and the discipline it imparts, has allowed the Department of State and its officers to serve successfully since the earliest days of our Republic.
One of the greatest honors I have been afforded during my career is the opportunity to have worked with all of you. I am deeply grateful for your friendship and solidarity, and I have been humbled by your generosity of spirit, your courage in confronting the dangers and risks inherent in our profession, and your joyful embrace of a life spent far from home and hearth.
To be an American diplomat is a high calling. I salute you all, and look forward to having the opportunity to say my farewells to you in the weeks to come.