Oh that's right, it's CODEL.
I preface this by saying we have had three CODELS (short for Congressional Delegation) in the past several weeks, and they were fine. They were here for an appropriate reason, did not involve spouses, did not devolve into SHOPDELS. The Principals were mostly pleasant and the whole visits were relatively painless (I say relatively only because they came right at the same time as two major conferences that brought a bunch of high level folks from the Department plus we had a separate visit from another really high ranking person in the Department, AND we had the arrival of the 173rd Airborne AND we had the handover of the Baltic Air Policing mission AND we had some major military visitors AND we had the Secretary of the Army. AND we aren't done...).
So relatively painless, but exhausting anyway.
But back to CODELS. Al Kamen has an updated version of his Loop Guide to CODELS in the Washington Post.
One of my favorite of his rules is:
"Rule 2. Ditch the spouse: Spouses raise red flags for reporters. Reporters are no longer buying the dodge about spouses traveling “at no extra cost.” Understaffed embassy personnel have to schedule separate events and provide vans, maybe security, guides and so forth for day trips, sightseeing and shopping. Given chronic understaffing at U.S. embassies, this is hardly what those folks need to be doing."
I would add a few more rules if I were Queen of the World, you know, in the interests of members of CODELS not looking bad..
For example, Travel commercial air whenever possible. It saves the taxpayers A LOT of money, especially if you travel coach like the rest of us are required to do. Fiscal responsibility, you know.
When I posted the link to the article on Facebook, a lot of folks added their rules to. I share them, with details removed to protect the guilty.
"Do not demand that helicopters being used to search for missing soldiers be commandeered for your use because you brought a bunch of [INSERT FOOD ITEM FROM YOUR HOME STATE] with you and you want a photo op of you delivering it to your state's National guard troops, who are stationed at a forward operating base in a hot zone. Yeah, that happened."
"When at the last minute you decide an unexpectedly snowy location will not please your 16 colleagues and their spouses and it's your last stop on the trip, JUST GO HOME! Don't come to a warm location and ask for four different schedules - with a few hours notice on the weekend. Not saying this actually happened but JUST DON'T DO IT!"
"When there's a small technical problem with milair, do not insist that your control officer buy one-way, first class tickets home when you can wait an hour or two for repairs."
"Avoid packing your CODEL with representatives from US territories solely to qualify for MilAir who will only play 4 rounds of golf on a 3 day junket and participate in no other events."
"Do not expect your favorite diet beverage other than Diet Coke to be readily available in a developing country. Also don't expect your favorite sports court of choice to be available in said developing country and do not force your Junior Officer control officer to play with you instead of going home to his or her family. You are on a "working" trip, right?"
And how about not pointedly thanking the military for their service and not the FSOs who are giving up their weekend to take care of you. We want to make you happy. We want your trip to be a success because we are here representing our country, yours and ours together. We know your trips can advance our country's foreign policy, and that is our goal here. But remember Kamen's rule two? About our chronic understaffing? A thank you for your service is nice to hear for us too.