Career Diplomat Daniel J. Kritenbrink to be Asst Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP)

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On March 26, 2021, President Biden announced his intent to nominate senior career diplomat Daniel J. Kritenbrink to serve as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP). The WH released the following brief bio:

Daniel J. Kritenbrink, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, has been U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam since 2017.  He was previously the Senior Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council, and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.  In earlier tours in Beijing, he served as Political Minister Counselor, and as a Political Officer.  Kritenbrink was Director of the Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs at the Department of State.  He also served as a Political-Military officer at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.  Kritenbrink earned a Masters Degree at the University of Virginia, and a Bachelors Degree at the University of Nebraska-Kearney.  He speaks fluent Chinese and Japanese.

According to history.state.gov, the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, established in 1908, was the first geographical division to be established in the Department of State. The Department of State established the position of Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs in 1949, after the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of Government (Hoover Commission) recommended that certain offices be upgraded to bureau level and after Congress increased the number of Assistant Secretaries of State from six to ten (May 26, 1949; P.L. 81-73; 63 Stat. 111). On Nov 1, 1966, the Department by administrative action changed the incumbent’s designation to Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.
The last three appointments to this position were political appointees.  We have to go back all the way to 2005 to find a career appointee for EAP; that’s Christopher Robert Hill who served from 2005–2009.
Previous appointees to this position include Philip Charles Habib (1974–1976); Richard Charles Albert Holbrooke (1977–1981); William Averell Harriman (1961–1963); and Winston Lord (1993–1997). The complete list is here.

 

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Career Diplomat Brian A. Nichols to be Asst. Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA)

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On March 26, 2021, President Biden announced his intent to nominate senior career diplomat Brian A. Nichols to be Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA). The WH released the following brief bio:

Brian A. Nichols, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Career Minister, currently serves as U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe.  He was U.S. Ambassador to Perú from 2014 to 2017.  Previously, Nichols served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).  Prior to that he was a Deputy Assistant Secretary in INL.  He also served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá, Colombia, Director of the Office of Caribbean Affairs, and Counselor for Political Affairs at the American Embassy in Indonesia.  Earlier in his career, Nichols served as Deputy Political Counselor in Mexico.  He also worked in the Office of UN Political Affairs, the Office of Central American Affairs, and the Executive Secretariat. Nichols began his Foreign Service career as a Consular Officer in Perú and then as a Political Officer in El Salvador.  He received the 2016 Charles E. Cobb, Jr. Award for Initiative and Success in Trade Development, two Presidential Meritorious Service Awards, and 13 Senior Performance Awards.  He speaks Spanish.  A native of Rhode Island, he is a graduate of Tufts University.

According to history.state.gov, the Department had first established a Division of Latin American Affairs in 1909. The Department of State created the position of Assistant Secretary of State for American Republic Affairs during the general reorganization of Dec 20, 1944, after Congress had authorized an increase in the number of Assistant Secretaries of State from four to six (Dec 8, 1944; P.L. 78-472; 58 Stat. 798). On January 12, 1999, the Bureau assumed responsibility for Canada and was renamed the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. More here.
The most recent career diplomat confirmed by the U.S. Senate to lead the Western Hemisphere bureau was Thomas Alfred Shannon Jr. who served from 2005–2009. He was succeeded by political appointees: Arturo Valenzuela (2009–2011), Roberta S. Jacobson (2012–2016) under the Obama Administration and Kimberly Breier (2018-2019) under the Trump Administration. At least four designates have also served in an acting capacity: political appointee Mari Carmen Aponte; SES Michael Kozak, career diplomats Francisco “Paco” Palmieri and Julie J. Chung .
According to AFSA’s appointment tracker going back to 1975, the Western Hemisphere bureau has a 50 percent split between career and political/other appointees.
The AP notes that Ambassador Nichols would be the first Black assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs since Terence Todman in the late 1970s (see Terence Alphonso Todman ).

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Certificate of Demonstrated Competence: Henry T. Wooster (Nominee For Jordan)

 

Via state.gov

Wooster, Henry R. – Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan – January 2020

SUBJECT:            Ambassadorial Nomination:  Certificate of Demonstrated Competence — Foreign Service Act, Section 304(a)(4)

POST:                  Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

CANDIDATE:     Henry T. Wooster

Henry Wooster is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, who is currently serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Maghreb and Egypt in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.  Previously, he was the Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy, Paris, France, and the Deputy Chief of Mission, and then Charge d’Affaires, at the U.S. Embassy, Amman, Jordan.  He also served as Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy, Islamabad Pakistan, Director for Central Asia, at the National Security Council, Washington D.C.  Earlier, and as the Foreign Policy Advisor to the Commanding General, U.S. Joint Special Operations Command.   His demonstrated record of leadership, his keen understanding of Jordan, and his broad grasp of our national security interests in the region makes him an excellent candidate to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Jordan.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Wooster was the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iran in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs; and as the Director of the Office of Iranian Affairs in the State Department.   His other assignments include service as Deputy Director of the Office of Provincial Affairs, Embassy Baghdad, as a political officer in Russia, and as executive officer and then as political officer at the U.S. Mission to NATO.  In the State Department headquarters in Washington he served first as Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs and then to the Deputy Secretary of State.  He also worked in the Office of Iranian Affairs and the Office of Russian Affairs.  Mr. Wooster served as an Officer in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1985 – 2009,

Mr. Wooster earned a B.A. from Amherst College and an M.A. from Yale University.  He is the recipient of a Presidential Rank Award, numerous State Department awards and  awards for his military service.  He speaks French and Russian and has a working knowledge of Arabic, Farsi, and Syriac/Aramaic.

Senior Career Diplomat Matthias Mitman to be the National Security Council’s Executive Secretary

 

On October 23, the White House announced Trump’s intention to appoint senior career diplomat Matthias Mitman of Virginia, to be the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council. The WH released the following brief bio:

Mr. Mitman, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, most recently served as Chief of Staff to the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs.  He previously served as Principal Officer in U.S. Consulates General in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Erbil, Iraq; and Basrah, Iraq.  Mr. Mitman was also the Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Tegucigalpa, Honduras and Minister Counselor for Economic Affairs at U.S. Embassy Moscow, Russia.  This will be his third detail to the National Security Council, having earlier served as Senior Duty Officer in the White House Situation Room and as Director for Iraq.  Before joining the Foreign Service, Mr. Mitman taught as an Assistant Professor of Economics at Ball State University.  He is a Distinguished Graduate of the National War College and earned an A.B. from Wabash College.

The most recent Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Robert O’Brien was named this Administration’s fourth National Security Advisor in September following the departure of John Bolton (see Trump Names Hostage Envoy Robert O’Brien His Fourth National Security Advisor).

 

U.S. Embassy Manila’s Amb. Sung Y. Kim to be the Next U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia

 

On July 10, the WH announced the president’s intent to nominate the current U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Y. Kim to be the next ambassador to the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia. The WH released the following brief bio:
Sung Y. Kim of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Indonesia.
Sung Y. Kim is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Career Minister, and currently serves as Ambassador to the Philippines.  Ambassador Kim’s extensive history of public service at the Department of State, including as Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, Special Envoy for the Six Party Talks, Director of the Office of Korean Affairs, Special Representative for North Korea Policy, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.  Earlier in his career, Ambassador Kim served as a Political Officer at the Embassies in Seoul, Republic of Korea, Tokyo, Japan, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  Ambassador Kim earned his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, J.D. from Loyola University Law School, and Masters of Law from the London School of Economics and Political Science.  Ambassador Kim received the Presidential Meritorious Honor Award in 2018, and he speaks Korean and Japanese.
If confirmed, Ambassador Kim would succeed Ambassador Robert Donovan, Jr. who was appointed to Jakarta on October 3, 2016 and has served as COM since  January 12, 2017.

Ambassador Sung Kim, US Embassy Manila (Via Twitter)

 

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Yo Wanna Spank Schumer But Not @Senatemajldr McConnell For Non-Confirmation of Ambassadors? Very Unfair!

It looks like the President of the United States is ending 2018 by ranting that “heads of countries” are calling and asking why Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer “is not approving their otherwise approved Ambassadors.” Well, first, to be clear, if they are really calling the WH asking about this, they would not be calling about “their otherwise approved ambassadors” because that would mean, these countries are calling about “their” ambassadors representing them in Washington. As far as we know, the U.S. Senate is not the entity that grants agrément for foreign diplomats to be appointed to the United States.

The president appears to be talking about U.S. Ambassadors nominated to foreign countries, which means, these are “our” ambassadors, and not these countries’ ambassadors even if they are assigned to these mysterious countries (whose “heads of countries” are um apparently “calling” and asking about stuff). If this is kinda confusing, try and imagine Saudi Arabia’s MBS or Turkey’s Erdogan calling the WH and asking what Schumer did to “their otherwise approved Ambassador” – that is, the Saudi Arabian and Turkish Ambassadors to the United States. They would not call the U.S. Ambassadors destined to their respective countries “their” ambassadors. We doubt if MBS would even call and ask what Schumer did to John Abizaid, Trump’s nominee to be the U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Why would he? He got you know who. Would Erdogan call and ask what Schumer did to Trump’s nominee to be U.S. Ambassador to Turkey? He wouldn’t, cmon. There isn’t one.

Second, we should note that there are indeed multiple nominees pending on the Senate Calendar and waiting for their full Senate votes. Except for two nominations who are subjects to two Democratic Senate holds, the rest of the nominees have been waiting for GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to put them up for a vote. Over the past year, the GOP appeared to prioritized the confirmation of judicial nominees. In the last 12 months, approximately 70 Judiciary nominees were confirmed while only about 47 State Department nominees were confirmed for the same duration (excluding USAID, UN, and Foreign Service lists).

We have a separate post on the nominations that are currently pending at the SFRC. We are anticipating that most of these nominees will be renominated at the beginning of the next Congress, and that most of them will probably get confirmation from the Senate given the GOP’s expanded majority in the 116th Congress. We don’t know how many more judicial nominees the GOP is planning to shovel through the confirmation process, however, but if there is a large enough number, those again could have an impact on the speed of confirmation for State Department nominees.

Below are the nominations pending in the Executive Calendar. May be there is a potential for the U.S. Senate to have mass confirmation of these nominations on January 2? You all can hope, right? We’ll have to wait and see. 

DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Carol Z. Perez, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of MinisterCounselor, to be Director General of the Foreign Service, vice Arnold A. Chacon, resigned.

Ellen E. McCarthy, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Intelligence and Research), vice Daniel Bennett Smith.

Stephen Akard, of Indiana, to be Director of the Office of Foreign Missions, with the rank of Ambassador, vice Gentry O. Smith, resigned.

AMBASSADORS (CAREER)

Lynne M. Tracy, of Ohio, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of MinisterCounselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Armenia.

Christopher Paul Henzel, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Yemen.

Sarah-Ann Lynch, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Co-operative Republic of Guyana

Earle D. Litzenberger, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Matthew John Matthews, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Brunei Darussalam.

Michael S. Klecheski, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Mongolia.

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All Promotions Into/Within the Senior Foreign Service Must be Vetted by White House?

Posted: 1:23 am  ET

 

State/HR recently sent a Frequently Asked Questions to newly promoted OCs concerning the differences between being an FS-01, the highest rank in the regular Foreign Service, and as OC, the starter rank in the Senior Foreign Service. The FAQ talks about pay, bidding, EERs, benefits, and of course, promotions. And then there’s this question, and apparent answer:

Q: When are promotions from FS-01 to OC effective?
Answer: Promotion boards issue a list in the fall of officers “recommended” for promotion from FS-01 to OC, OC to MC and MC to CM. However, all promotions into and within the Senior Foreign Service must be vetted by the White House, confirmed by the Senate and attested by the President. This process can take several months. Promotions into and within the SFS are effective the first pay period following Presidential attestation. However, you may start bidding as an OC as soon as the promotion list is released by the board.

Yo! You know this is nuts, right? The White House can barely vet its own staffers, and it will now vet all promotions of FSOs into and within the Senior Foreign Service? With one exception that we are aware of (and we’ll write about that case separately), this WH vetting requirement is new, and yes, we remember the “improved” vetting required by the SFRC back in 2015 (SFRC Bullies Diplomats Up For Promotion to Self-Certify They Have Not Been Convicted of Any Crime).  Is the WH also vetting all senior promotions out of the Pentagon? Who’s going to be doing this and what does this vetting includes? Also whose great idea was this, pray tell?  Will State/HR and A/DGHR soon say that this vetting has always been done by the White House since the beginning of whatevs?

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Special Rep for North Korea Policy Joseph Yun to Retire This Week

Posted: 2:55 am ET

 

Another senior FSO, a member of the shrinking minister-counselor ranks of the Foreign Service is heading for the exit. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Joseph Yun is stepping down later this week, a decision that he told reporters, “is really my decision.” NBC News says that Yun has “decided to retire for personal reasons,” according to a State Department spokesperson.

Ambassador Yun who was previously U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia (2013-2016) was appointed Special Representative for North Korea Policy and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Korea and Japan in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (State/EAO) in October 2016.

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@StateDept FS Promotion Statistics 2014-2017: Counselors (FE-OC) to Minister Counselors (FE-MC)

Posted: 2:20 am ET

 

Below is the comparative look of the State Department Foreign Service promotion statistics from 2014-2017 for Counselors (FE-OC equivalent to One-star rank (O-7)) to Minister Counselors (FE-MC equivalent to Two-star rank (O-8)). The average length of service of FSOs promoted from OC to MC in 2014-2017 is 25 years.

The number of FSOs who competed for promotion annually from 2014-2017 ranges from 215 in 2014 to 246 in 2017.  The number of FSOs promoted to from OC to MC was highest in 2016 at 61 FSOs or 24.3%, and lowest in 2017 at 29 FSOs or 11.8%.

That’s less than half the previous year, and that’s notable.

The FE-OC Counselor rank is the first rung in the Senior Foreign Service. The maximum time-in-class (TIC) limits for career generalist and specialist Senior Foreign Service members in this rank is seven (7) years. If FE-OCs are not getting promoted to FE-MCs because the promotion numbers have been shrunk, and they hit their time-in-class, they become subject to mandatory retirement upon expiration of their TIC and their time-in-service (TIS) limits.

Limiting the promotion numbers has been called a “stealth RIF” by old timers who remember the decimation of the career services in the 1990’s.

Via state.gov 11/24/17  FS Promotion Statistics

Again, please note that these numbers only include State Department Foreign Service numbers, and do not include USAID, Commerce, and Agriculture. For  those not familiar with the FS system, conal competition recognizes potential and competency in the primary career field. Members recommended for functional promotions demonstrate full proficiency across the six core competencies in a breadth of positions in their primary functional field (cone).

Per 3 FAH-1 H 2320 with the 2005 Selection Boards, classwide competition replaced multifunctionality.

The Department’s goal in instituting classwide competition is to assist the Department in expanding the pool of officers with broad vision and deep experience who are prepared to assume leadership positions in the future. Diplomacy in the 21st Century engages issues that are increasingly global in nature and/or scope, rapid changes in technology which are changing the way we do business, crises requiring effective and rapid response, the continuing need to promote actively democracy and respect for human rights, and threats to our safety and security that continue to surface. It needs broad-based and flexible officers, with leadership skills and the demonstrated ability to plan, organize, administer, and evaluate programs in both the members primary career field and across functional lines, who can transform resources and policy into results, while managing people effectively. While conal competition recognizes potential and competency in the primary career field, classwide competition builds on conal expertise by recognizing potential and competency across functional lines. The Board is asked to rate each employee in the classwide competition based on the relative strength of that members Performance Folder and demonstrated ability to perform effectively at the next higher level.

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