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American Foreign Service Association Statement in the “Congressional Record” — Facts and Figures on Personnel Needs

Below is a statement placed in the Congressional Record on October 5, 2001 by Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon:

“Mr. Speaker, I was very pleased a week ago to see an oped in my hometown newspaper, The Oregonian, written by the president of the American Foreign Service Association, John Naland. It highlights the work of the Foreign Service that we now know is even more important in the wake of the September 11 attack on our country.”

“There is a serious problem facing the Foreign Service, and it can be rectified in the FY02 Commerce-Justice-State appropriations bill, H.R. 2500, when it goes to the House/Senate Conference. Personnel shortages in the Foreign Service Corps seriously impede our ability to conduct our nation’s foreign policy. Even before September 11, our Foreign Service personnel were stretched too thinly in the face of growing demands. Work that should have been done was not getting adequate attention because of competing demands of time and energy. Personnel shortages also leave us under-trained because in choosing between training or filling a position, the system fills the position.”

“The Department of State calculates that the shortfall is about 1,100 people. The 2000 report on ‘State Department Reform’ by the Task Force chaired by Frank Carlucci and cosponsored by the Council of Foreign Relations and the Center for Strategic and International Studies estimated the workforce shortfall to be some 700 Foreign Service Officers or nearly 15 percent of Foreign Service requirements.”

“As the Foreign Service continues to promote and protect our interests abroad in these difficult days, it is vital that we appropriate funding for the Diplomatic and Consular Account in the State Department portion of the FY02 C-J-S appropriations bill that is at or above the $3,646 million level provided by the House of Representatives. I encourage conferees to adopt this funding level.”

“I urge my colleagues to carefully consider the views of the American Foreign Service Association as presented here.”

“[From the Oregonian, September 28, 2001]”

“Don’t Forget the Vital Role of Diplomacy”

“(By John K. Naland)”

“President Bush has vowed to use every resource at his command to defeat terrorism. In his address to the nation last week, he included four that are familiar to most Americans: military might, intelligence collection, law enforcement and financial pressure. But many citizens might be hard-pressed to explain the practical value of the anti-terrorism tool that Bush put at the very top of his list: Diplomacy.”

“Diplomacy is the art of influencing foreign governments and peoples to support our nation’s vital interests. Never has skilled U.S. diplomacy been more needed than in the current crisis. The president has made it clear that destroying the network of international terrorists will require the combined efforts of many nations. Thus, the task of forming that international coalition against terrorism now rests on the shoulders of U.S. diplomacy.”

“While Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell are clearly our chief diplomats in this effort, our career diplomats stationed around the globe are implementing the detailed work. As Powell said in a Sept. 13 “all hands” message sent to all U.S. diplomatic and consular posts, “the men and women of American diplomacy will be at the forefront of this unprecedented effort . . . to break the back of international terrorism.””

“U.S. diplomats are now rallying key governments to apply political pressure on those countries that harbor terrorists. They are seeking to enlist foreign police forces and intelligence services in the search for the attackers. U.S. diplomats are negotiating for the military overflight and basing rights that will be needed if we must, as the president put it, “bring justice to our enemies.”” “Unfortunately, even as Congress does its part to fight terrorism by augmenting the budgets of our military, law enforcement and intelligence agencies, some in Congress do not acknowledge the parallel need to strengthen our diplomatic efforts. This despite the fact that diplomatic readiness is no less important to our national security than is military readiness.”

“Lost in the flurry of congressional activity last week was the Senate passage of a State Department appropriations bill that fell far short of what Powell requested last spring. The deleted funding was to have addressed two of the State Department’s most pressing deficiencies: inadequate staffing and dilapidated overseas infrastructure. Because the House version of the bill fully funded the administration’s request, a House and Senate conference committee will soon meet to decide on the final funding level.”

“The events of Sept. 11 underscore the urgent need for adequate resources for diplomacy, which Powell has aptly termed “America’s first line of offense.” As our diplomats go about forging an international coalition against terrorism, it is vital for the Congress to give them the tools they need to succeed.”



Note: John K. Naland, a career Foreign Service officer and former U.S. Army officer, is president of the American Foreign Service Association.

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