US Foreign Policy
Commentary

Serious Training Needs Proposed for Foreign Service: Academy Report Identifies Critical Needs

in Program

The U.S. Diplomatic Service is
in need of greater professional education and training, according to a new report issued today by the American Academy of Diplomacy and the Stimson Center.

The study, “Forging a 21st Century Diplomatic Service
for the United States Through Professional Education and Training
,” addresses
critical training Foreign Service Officers need to meet the changing
requirements of the U.S. government in the conduct of its foreign and national
security policies.

“The
international environment is being transformed before our eyes.  Every tool of U.S.
international action, including American diplomacy, must be fully up to the
task. Our diplomatic service is falling behind in the professional education
and training needed to meet our country’s challenges,” said Amb. Robert M. Beecroft, a 37-year veteran
of the Foreign Service and manager of this project.

The study considers ways to ensure the right people
with the right skills and educations are available for the evolving, complex
requirements of U.S. foreign policy.

“On-the-job
training alone is not a sufficient method to develop a U.S.
diplomatic service,” said Amb. Ronald E.
Neumann, President of the American Academy of Diplomacy, who added, “Years
of underfunding in diplomacy and development have left the Department of State
without adequate resources.”

The full report contains the following key recommendations:

  • Fully fund Department of State
    personnel needs.
  • Provide and sustain additional
    personnel positions for training equivalent to 15 percent above the staff level
    required for regular assignment.
  • Make a long-term commitment to
    investing in the professional education and training needed to build a 21st
    century diplomatic service capable of meeting future complex challenges.
  • Strengthen and expand the
    Department of State’s professional development process
  • Establish temporary corps of
    roving counselors from a pool of recently retired officers, who can remain
    abroad to offer counseling, advice and career guidance focused on supervisions.
  • Department of State should
    contract a study to determine how on-the-job training can most effectively be
    conducted.
  • Require every FSO at the FS-01 and
    FS-02 levels to complete a year of advanced study related to his or her career
    track as part of promotion track to Senior Foreign Service.
  • New Chiefs of Mission should fully
    prepare for assignment by consulting relevant bureau and country team
    directorate personnel.

Also included in the report is a section that
encourages Department of State to consider ways to revive the spirit, goals,
and objectives of the Senior Seminar
– a former program that provided a limited number of select Senior Foreign
Service, Senior Executive Service, and military officers with a year-long
professional development opportunity.

The report recommendations are largely compatible
with the training related recommendations of the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), which was
released in December 2010, after this study was near completion.

The Academy recognizes the following organizations
whose support made this study possible: American
Foreign Service Association, the Delavan Foundation, and the Una Chapman Cox
Foundation.

 

The American
Academy of Diplomacy is a membership organization of former career and
non-career ambassadors and senior-level diplomats dedicated to strengthening
the institution of American diplomacy. Established in 1983, the organization
has a history of providing public education and outreach to educate the public
about the importance of diplomacy.

The Stimson Center is a Washington D.C.-based
non-profit, non-partisan institution devoted to enhancing international peace
and security. Founded in 1989, its work focuses on reducing weapons of mass
destruction and transnational threats, building regional security, and
strengthening institutions. Stimson’s pragmatic approach seeks to understand
and illuminate complex issues, develop new knowledge, and engage policymakers,
policy implementers, and non-governmental institutions with recommendations
that are actionable and effective.

 

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