State Dept Wants You to Join the Foreign Service — Start Now So You’re on Board on/about 2015

The 12:35 minute video features Secretary Clinton, US Ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney, US Ambassador to Haiti Pamela White, a management analyst from the Foreign Service Institute giving a tour of the pretend jail at FSI, and several officers who may or may not be entry level officers on their first or second tours.

The video above came with a 1:16 minute trailer and the following media note:

As part of an effort to continue to attract smart, dynamic, capable people into the Foreign Service, the Department of State is releasing a new one-minute trailer and an accompanying short video that showcases the faces and stories of the amazing men and women who have helped make the world a better place through a career in the Foreign Service.

The video is meant to inspire and promote participation in American diplomacy through joining the Foreign Service. Through compelling stories and powerful imagery, the film aims to educate and engage Americans on the incredible career opportunities available in the Foreign Service.

As Secretary Clinton says, “The challenges of the 21st century offer something for everyone in the Foreign Service and they also demand a wide range of skills and experience…we need you now.”

The Foreign Service represents the United States around the world and provides the opportunity to experience cultures, customs and people of different nations in a career truly unlike any other. In this constantly changing world, we want to continue to recruit adaptable, resourceful, intelligent, and innovative strategic-thinkers, from diverse educational, geographic and cultural backgrounds.

If that sounds like what you’re looking for – sign up now at

The video is meant to inspire, as they say, so it does not mention the timeline on the hiring process (still about two years) or the challenges for dual-income families reduced to one when the accompanying spouse is unable to find work overseas.   It’s a recruitment video, so that’s understandable. But perhaps the most glaring omission of all — out of about a dozen officers featured in this video, did you see anyone shown working in the danger zones of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan?  Other than that, the video is a nice showcase.

To help the film educate Americans, below are some related posts from former FSO now Gadling columnist, Dave Seminara. Do not/not skip the “How To Avoid Posts Where You Might Get Eaten Alive.” That seems important.

Here is also a must-read piece by retired FSO Peter Van Buren who underwent quite a bit of beard shaving and shunning in the aftermath of the publication of his book, We Meant Well:

And just to be clear — Papua New Guinea now only has one tribe, the Korowai (numbering about 3,000) reported to practice ritual cannibalism.  They do not/not live anywhere near the US Embassy compound in Port Moresby. So that should make you feel better….

In any case, we are not in the business to encourage or discourage anyone from joining the Foreign Service. What we will say is that the Foreign Service is not for everyone.  You can have the best times of your lives, you can have the worst times of your lives.  Not one or the other at all times.  So if you join, make sure you got a Plan B … because stuff happens.

One of the saddest people we’ve encountered is a mid-level employee with kids, a mortgage, and nowhere to go but stay put even when the FS has lost its sparkle.  As Yoda would probably say in a galaxy far, far away – having more than one option, success is.  Good luck!

domani spero sig



Angry Lawmakers Care About the Foreign Service. Seriously. When It’s Convenient!

Earlier this month, former FSO Dave Seminara who writes for Gadling did an interview with former Ambassador Ed Peck, a respected figure in my house. The former U.S. Ambassador to Mauritania also had previous assignments to Sweden, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt. Dave describes him as somebody who has “made a habit of speaking his mind and often says things that people don’t want to hear.” Heh! Here is part of what Ambassador Peck said:

The Foreign Service is a very low-key organization. Very few people have any idea what the Foreign Service is or what it does. Some think it has something to do with the French Foreign Legion.

The only time any attention is paid to us is when there’s a catastrophe overseas, like the killing in Libya. Otherwise, Americans really don’t care very much, as long as other countries do things the way we want them to.

Also, unlike the military, the Foreign Service has no political clout like the military does. We’re impecunious, we have no political clout or domestic constituency, we have no uniforms and no one knows what we’re doing out in Bunga-Dunga or Puerto Banana or wherever the hell we are.

Just a few weeks before the Benghazi attack, a USAID officer, soldiers, including two military officers were killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan’s Kunar province. One of our diplomats survived the attack but was wounded.  I haven’t heard any politician get hopping mad, demanding answers over that.

For the last three years, the US Consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan has been attacked again and again. The latest attack on September 3 wounded four personnel.  I did not hear the pols calling a hearing, demanding answers and there isn’t even a single Accountability Review Board.  It’s like, yeah it’s Peshawar, bad things happen there all the time, so?

Not to mention that we have reached a grim milestone in Afghanistan.

The lawmakers last week were also upset about a State Department document that detailed 230 security incidents in Libya between June 2011 and July 2012 that demonstrated the danger to Americans in the country. How or why they are surprised by this is perplexing.  The world is a dangerous place. Our diplomats represents the United States and have always been moving targets.

Did you know that from January to October 2012, there were already 162 security incidents in Pakistan?  This includes the August 6 attack on a NATO truck in north-west Pakistan, the August 16 Tehrik-i-Taliban militants-staged attack on the Kamra Air Base of the Pakistan Air Force in Attock, Punjab, the September 3 suicide bomber attack where the bomber killed himself and two others when he drove a car bomb into a US consular vehicle in Peshawar, and an October 6 attack that blew up a NATO container through an IED explosion in Jamrud Bazaar.

The State Department’s funding request for 2013 was $51.6 billion, $300 million less than 2012.  State and USAID with operations in over 270 posts around the world account for just 1 percent of the federal budget.  The Pentagon’s 2012 budget is $614 billion. Take a guess which one will be the easiest target for cuts in Congress.

So – who can blame Ambassador Peck for saying that Americans really don’t care very much unless there’s a catastrophe overseas. We can’t even generate an angry mob of lawmakers to take a look at anything seriously, unless, of course, it’s Benghazi where they pretend at seriousness of purpose in finding the truth.

Our darling parodist from the Foggiest Bottom has a couple excellent tweets on this:

Dear Mr. Cook E. Pusher, must you always be right?!

First Person: Weird Damascus and Those Karachi Marines in Bath Towels

Amy Tachco is a 36-year-old Foreign Service Officer (FSO) originally from Southern California and Central Ohio who joined the Foreign Service over ten years ago. She was featured this past week in Gadling’s A Traveler In The Foreign Service, in a Q&A with Dave Seminara, a former FSO and apparently her A-100 classmate.

Below are a couple of interesting tidbits from the Q&A. The first one is about “weird” Damascus when she was asked about leaving Syria as the US Embassy was evacuated:

No one wanted to get out of Dodge?

“No. Syria’s a beautiful place. I knew for probably six weeks or so before we were finally evacuated out that the decision was coming. But strangely enough, when it came, I felt like my whole universe just crashed. I cried big time because I felt like I was abandoning the people.”

The local staff and your friends there?

“Them but also the opposition. I was responsible for dealing with the Syrian opposition. On my last day there, I sat with one of the leaders in his office for about 2 hours and two weeks later the regime raided their office and arrested them all. It wasn’t because we left, I don’t think, but there was definitely that feeling. That’s why I asked to be sent to Istanbul, so I could continue doing my job from there. When you work in a country where people are fighting for their lives, you get emotionally involved.”

Were you concerned for your safety in Syria?

“The violence wasn’t in the middle of Damascus. The thing that was weird about Damascus is that you could walk the streets and see people drinking coffee and smoking nargiles in the cafés. Bizarre knowing that three kilometers away people were getting shot.

I took the Ambassador to a few meetings where we were sort of assaulted by regime thugs. On one occasion, we went into a meeting with a member of the opposition and a big group of regime loyalists started chanting at us and they followed us in and were banging on the door. And I got hit with a tomato.”

Did it splatter all over you?

“It didn’t and I was wearing a red dress anyways. They were trying to pelt us though. We ended up getting trapped in the building for more than two hours. We had to call our RSO’s (Regional Security Officers) to get us out of there in some armored cars. They got attacked with rocks and concrete through their windows.”

Then this one about working at the US Consulate in Karachi after it was bombed.

Pacific Ocean (Nov. 8, 2005) – U.S. Mari...

Pacific Ocean (Nov. 8, 2005) – U.S. Marines assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit perform physical training on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5). Peleliu is underway off the coast of Southern California for an Expeditionary Strike Group exercise. U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 2nd Class Zack Baddorf (RELEASED) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What was it like to arrive at post in the wake of that incident?

“We had a Marine expeditionary unit in the consular section. They had their guns pointed out the upstairs windows to keep people from entering the big hole in the wall. There was a bathroom with a shower right next to my office, so these Marines would come by my office just draped in their bath towels. They had been on a ship for the last six months, so they liked to stop by my office to say hi on the way back from their showers. They hadn’t seen women in a really long time.”

Active link added above. Read the whole thing here.