Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A New Diplo-draft?

I'll answer that question quickly: not likely.

Secretary Clinton announced during her testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing this morning that as a counterpart to the troop increase announced last night by President Obama, she expects to triple the number of civilians in Afghanistan by January. That will bring the number to somewhere around 1,000. Many of these civilians will be Foreign Service.

There was much kerfuffle over the proposed directed assignments to Iraq during the previous administration. Much of that kerfuffle should have remained in house and likely would have, had the media not been invited to the now infamous town hall that was supposed to be an employee-only forum for folks to voice their concerns. Announcements of the new policies concerning assignments to war zones being announced first in the media and only later to employees didn't help.

Things are different now.

First, we have been through Iraq. We now see that it is possible, though still difficult given our small numbers, to staff the embassy. We all understand now that we will need to serve at one of these posts at some point and perhaps more than once. We have adapted and are continuing to adapt.

Second, I think there has always been more support for the war in Afghanistan. People seem more willing, eager even, to serve there. To do their part.

So I think the increase will stress but not break us.

I think we will do what we have done for the last few years:

We will step up.

We will volunteer.

And no one will have to be directed.

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