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“I wanted, too, to reaffirm the value of diplomatic expertise. So at my recommendation, President Trump and the Senate recognized four individuals Career Ambassadors: David Hale, Phil Goldberg, Michele Sison, and Dan Smith, who is now running FSI. The rest of our team now knows these are senior leaders that they can truly look up to.” – Secretary Mike Pompeo
Remarks at the Department of State Foreign Affairs Day
The class of Career Ambassador was first established by an Act of Congress on Aug 5, 1955, as an amendment to the Foreign Service act of 1946 (P.L. 84-250; 69 Stat. 537). Under the 1980 Foreign Service Act (P.L. 96-465; 94 Stat. 2084), which repealed the 1946 Act as amended, the President is empowered with the advice and consent of the Senate to confer the personal rank of Career Ambassador upon a career member of the Senior Foreign Service in recognition of especially distinguished service over a sustained period. It is the equivalent of Four-star rank (O-10) in the military.
Ambassador David Hale , former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Lebanon and Jordan is Under Secretary for Political Affairs. He is the highest ranking career appointee in the State Department. He reports directly to the Deputy Secretary of State and the Secretary of State.
[Holy guacamole, why is the State Department’s biographies of senior officials alphabetized by first names?]
Ambassador Philip S. Goldberg previously U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, Bolivia, and Chief of Mission in Kosovo, and most recently, Cuba, was also a former Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research (INR). He is now Resident Senior Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University. Until these four nominations, there was Ambassador Steve Mull, the one remaining career ambassador in active service in mid 2018 prior to being brought back briefly as Acting P before his retirement. By coincidence, Ambassador Goldberg is now a Resident Senior Fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Ambassador Mull’s assignment shortly before his brief appointment as Acting P and retirement.
Ambassador Michele Sison was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Haiti on February 12, 2018. She previously served as U.S. Deputy Representative to the United Nations (2014-2018), U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives (2012-2014), U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon (2008-2010), and U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (2004-2008).
Ambassador Daniel B. Smith, previously Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research (INR) and former U.S. Ambassador to Greece is now the Director of the Foreign Service Institute. They gave him a nice title of “Chief Learning Officer for the Department of State and the federal foreign affairs community.” According to the FAM, the Director of FSI is equivalent in rank to an Assistant Secretary and serves as the Department’s Chief Training Officer. This is not a Senate confirmed position. FSI is one of 14 bureaus and offices under the Under Secretary for Management umbrella. Ambassador Smith does not report directly to the Secretary of State. One could argue that training is crucial and that this assignment is similar to United States Army Training and Doctrine Command which is headed by one of the Army’s twelve four-star generals. Okay. Fine. Except that TRADOC is one of the four Army Commands, and oversees 32 Army schools organized under eight Centers of Excellence, each focused on a separate area of expertise within the Army (such as Maneuver and Signal). These centers train over 500,000 soldiers and service members each year. The Foreign Service on the other hand has 13,770 officers and specialists. Even if FSI trains all Foreign Service, Civil Service (10,023), EFMs (2,302) and local staff (51,148) every year (it doesn’t), the number of trainees would only amount to 77,243 (PDF).
Of the four career ambassadors, one is in Foggy Bottom, one handles training (away from Foggy Bottom), one is a resident fellow at a university (away from Foggy Bottom), and one is overseas (away from Foggy Bottom). Perhaps, that’s where they all want to be?
We’re also curious — how many career diplomats have been appointed to lead the geographic bureaus or the functional bureaus of the State Department?
According to AFSA, among senior official appointments in the State Department, only 5 or 9.1% appointees are career folks. Political appointees make up 90.9% or 50 appointments in real numbers.
Of the 151 ambassador appointments, 80 or 53.0% are career appointees, and 71 or 47.0% are political appointees.
Holy swagger guacamole! Is this what reaffirmation of diplomatic expertise looks like?