Presentations of Credentials: U.S. Ambassadors to Nepal, Trinidad & Tobago, Poland, UNVIE

 

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The U.S. Embassy of Curtailments — Hurry! Nominations Now Open

Posted: 12:44 am  EDT
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One political ambassador went though five DCMs during his tenure as President George W. Bush’s ambassador in paradise. The whole two Bush terms. We even wrote a tanka about it.  Another political ambassador went through seven permanent and temporary DCMs in less than one term at US Embassy Luxembourg under President Obama.

There is no shortage of criticisms when it comes to the appointments of political ambassadors, of course. But let us point out to something good here. The political ambassadors know when to exit the stage, and that’s a good thing. Even if we’ll never know for sure how hard or how lightly they’re pushed to exit right, we know that they will not be candidates¬†in the State Department’s well-oiled recycling program.

So, what should we¬†make about news of curtailments from an embassy headed by a career ambassador when the official report is handled with¬†such a, um… soft touch?

  • Embassy Tallinn‚Äôs single-officer consular section suffered successive curtailments of assigned officers in the 20 months between February 2013 and September 2014. During that period, eight temporary duty officers provided approximately 10 months of management coverage.
  • Management operations at Embassy Tallinn were recently disrupted for a 6-month period because of curtailments in the management and general services officer positions.

Wait — that’s three positions, aren’t we missing a few more?¬†The consular section had successive curtailments? Like — how many? There was a year-long gap in the political officer position;¬†was that gap a result of another curtailment?

The IG report on Embassy Tallinn does not answer those questions and does not elaborate the reasons for these personnel gaps and curtailments, which we are told are “old news.”

But see — people do not take voluntary curtailments lightly. Not only do they¬†need to unpack, repack, unpack again their entire household, kids have to be pulled out of schools, pets have to be shipped and there may be spouses jobs¬†that¬†get¬†interrupted. ¬†And most of all, in a system where assignments are made typically a year before the transfer season, curtailments mean the selection for the employee’s next assignment back in DC or elsewhere contains pretty slim pickings. ¬† The employee may even be stuck in a “bridge” assignment that no one wants. So, no, curtailments are not easy fixes, they cause personal and office upheavals, and people generally avoid doing them unless things¬†get to a point of being intolerable.

In any case,¬†we like poking into “old news” … for instance, we are super curious if¬†the curtailed personnel from Tallinn similarly decamped to Baghdad or Kabul like those curtailments cited in the OIG report for US Embassy Luxembourg? No? Well, where did they go … to Yekaterinburg?

Did they curtail for medical reasons, that is, was post the cause of their ailments? And no, we have it in excelent authority that no one has microwaved Embassy Tallinn like the good old days in Moscow.

The report says there were curtailments and that “stronger leadership from the Ambassador and his greater adherence to Department of State rules and regulations are necessary.”

Also that the “most significant findings concern the need for stronger leadership from the Ambassador and his greater adherence to ethics principles, Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) guidelines, and security policies.”

Wow!  This report is mighty short on details, what happened?

We take special note on the use of the following words: Strong-er. Great-er.  Both comparative adjectives, see? Suggesting that chief of mission (COM) already has strong leadership and great adherence to principles and policies.

And this is the report’s most significant findings? That¬†the COM just need to move the dial a notch up?

Are the fine details on ¬†ethics, EEO, security flushed out¬†to the Classified Annex of this report, to entertain a limited¬†readership with “need to know” badges? And their inclusion in the annex is for national security reasons?

Strong-er. Great-er.  Sorry folks, but it must be said, a heck of a crap-per. Additional post to follow.

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US Embassy Port of Spain: Ambassador Beatrice Welters Resigns

The announcement about this latest resignation came from the US Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago:

Ambassador Beatrice W. Welters has resigned her post effective November 2, 2012 after serving as U.S. Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago for two and a half years. The Ambassador’s resignation is in keeping with the common practice of political appointees resigning prior to the Presidential election.

Ambassador Welters is looking forward to returning to her family and to her foundations in the United States, which work to improve the lives of disadvantaged youth. She will continue to work with NGOs here in Trinidad and Tobago in her private capacity.

In a message to the Embassy community she said: ‚ÄúI will leave this posting with a great sense of pride in what we have been able to achieve. Together our team at the Embassy has reached new heights in the areas of diplomatic engagement and cultural exchange here in Trinidad and Tobago and a lifetime of new friendships.‚ÄĚ
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Ambassador Beatrice W. Welters, Major Lawrence Wilson and DCM David Wolfe. Major Wilson is the father of Private First Class LeRon Adrian Wilson, a Trinidad and Tobago national who joined the U.S. Army and served in Iraq during Operation Enduring Freedom. He was killed in Iraq at the age of 18.
(Photo from US Embassy Port of Spain)

 

Actually, I thought the common practice is for all ambassadors (career and political) to tender their resignation when a new President is elected.  The career folks are usually kept on to the end of their three-year tours and political ambassadors turn over because the new President wants to bring in new people.

I imagine that if President Obama is reelected, there’s no need to submit those resignation letters.¬† But if there is a President Romney, all ambassadors need to have those letters in.

While it is not unheard of for political ambassadors to resign prior to the elections, as with the former ambassador to the Bahamas Nicole Avant, that typically happens long before the election (Avant resigned last year). In which case, they can go back to private life and actively support their candidate.

Ambassador Welters resignation was announced on October 25, 2012 and took effect on November 2, 2012.

Back in 2009, this is a post that actually made me write, Sunday Tanka: At Embassy Port of Spain.

Am I missing anything here?

 

Related post:

That did not work out very well, did it? US Embassy Port of Spain Sets Record/s