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In contrast, since the recent departure of Llewellyn Thompson from Moscow, not a single American ambassador in the entire world has been at his post for as long as 5 years. Only one has been in his country of assignment for as long as 4 years. The average tenure of the 56 professionals serving as ambassadors on June 30, 1962, was just over 17 months.
That is to say, American diplomats have always been uprooted and transplanted, and replanted and uprooted again, more rapidly by far than the representatives of any other country.
This never-ending shufiling of American representatives (and equally of senior Foreign Service personnel assigned as deputy chiefs of missions or as ministers and counselors) is a frivolous and wasteful misuse of trained manpower.
Assuredly there are factors other than longevity that contribute to the success or failure of an American diplomatic mission. Knowledge of a foreign country's history, its culture and (sometimes) its language may be important. A flair for inconspicuous operations is nearly always useful. Since they now travel abroad at the rate of several hundred per year, a deft hand at the care and feeding of Congressmen is becoming essential. So is ambassadorial fortitude to ride herd on the great American double-breasted do-gooder, as well as on the multifarious and persistent retainers of agencies other than the Department of State with which every American embassy is now afflicted.
All these and many other ingredients are relevant to diplomatic performance, but not all of them taken together can equal in importance the experience gained at a post, which comes only from having lived and worked there.
ADMINISTRATION OF NATIONAL SECURITY
MONDAY, JUNE 17, 1963
STAFFING AND OPERATIONS,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met at 10 a.m., pursuant to notice, in room 3302, Now Senate Office Building, Senator Henry M. Jackson (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Senators Jackson, Pell, and Mundt.
Staff members present: Dorothy Fosdick, staff director; Robert W. Tufts, chief consultant; Richard $. Page, research assistant; Judith.J. Spahr, chief clerk; and Laurel A. Engberg, minority consultant.
OPENING STATEMENT OF THE CHAIRMAN
Senator JACKSON. The committee will be in order. This morning our subcommittee continues its hearings on the role of ambassadors and the missions they head in the conduct of our relations with other countries.
At our hearing last week we heard from the Honorable Ellis 0. Briggs, career ambassador, retired. Our witness this morning is the Honorable H. Freeman Matthews who also speaks to us with the authority of almost 40 years of outstanding performance in the Foreign Service.
I believe you served actually 40 years, sir!
Senator JACKSON. We will make it 40. Ambassador Matthews has combined notable service at the top level of the State Department with distinguished work abroad. He was Director of the Office of European Affairs, 1943-47, and Deputy Under Secretary of State, 1950–53. He served as Ambassador in three key European posts—Sweden, the Netherlands, and Austria. He was honored by appointment as career ambassador in the Foreign Service and retired just last year.
With this background, Ambassador Matthews, you are admirably qualified to discuss the role and problems of U.S. ambassadors and U.S. missions abroad and relations between Washington, D.C.,
and the field.
We are deeply privileged to have you with us today. You may now proceed with your testimony.
STATEMENT OF H. FREEMAN MATTHEWS, CAREER AMBASSADOR,
Ambassador MATTHEWS. I greatly
appreciate the privilege of appearing before this subcommittee. The subject of your study-national security staffing and operations—is certainly one of high importance. For without the most effective methods, procedures, and brainpower devoted to the determination of the wisest practicable policies affecting our vital security in this imperfect world, and in implementing them once determined, all our national objectives could be put in grave jeopardy.
I read with much interest and admiration your study of January 1963, on "Basic Issues." It seems to me that you have outlined in lucid form the dilemmas with which our country and Government are faced in this complex and rapidly changing era and have scrupulously resisted the temptation to come up with facile or dogmatic answers to problems where in truth such easy answers do not exist. The substance of national security policies with their wide and often unforeseen ramifications throughout our country and the world usually permits no white and black answers to dilemmas that are largely gray. In this age we seldom can say this decision is right and that is wrong: often it is which is the lesser of two evils. This seems equally true of the basic issues of staffing and operations. As Professor Neustadt so aptly put it to you: “This is a vast field and a very complex one, where troubles are hard to track down and 'solutions come harder still" ; and he added later that "methods and procedures at their best cannot abolish the deep difficulties of perception, of analysis, of judgment, of persuasion which confront our policymakers now and in the future.'
I have also read the hearings before your subcommittee in March and found them interesting and enlightening, particularly the views of Under Secretary Harriman and Professor Neustadt, where the subject matter is more within my ken than the field of General Norstad.
In your invitation to be present here, Senator Jackson, you made specific reference to chapter 4 of your study—“The Ambassador and the Country Team”-presumably because my 40 years of Foreign Service included some experience with this relatively modern mechanism. I might begin by referring to Mr. Harriman's important statement that “good organizational machinery can never substitute for good people” and express my emphatic endorsement, both as a former Ambassador, and former occupant of Mr. Harriman's present busy and un-air-conditioned seat. I was fortunate in my last two ambassadorial posts—the Netherlands and Austria—to have sensible and cooperative associates on the country team; at my earlier postSweden-in the late forties the team concept had not been developed, though I had no difficulties in my various staff conferences.
If I might interject here to say one member of my country team is present in the room today, in the person of Col. George Sloan, and I hope he won't call me a liar.
Senator JACKSON. We are delighted that Colonel Sloan could be here at this hearing because he has spoken so highly of the country team operations in Austria when he was there.
Ambassador MATTHEWs. During my 5 years at Vienna, I met every Monday and Friday at 9:15 with my deputy chief of mission, my
political and economic counselors, the administrative officer, the Air and Army Attachés, the CIA representative, the USAI representative, and the consul in charge. If the top man was unable to attend his next in line acted as substitute. Since all Marshall plan aid in our highly successfuly Austrian program had terminated prior to my arrival I had been designated ICA representative for the period of final liquidation of our responsibilities so there was no special representative of that agency. I would open the meeting sometimes with a reference to any important general development in the outside world which might or might not directly affect our relations with Austria; sometimes by drawing attention to some internal Austrian development with a political, economic, administrative, military, or public affairs bearing on our work and open discussion about it. Sometimes we would start with discussion of a specific problem on which the Embassy was working in the light of instructions or queries from Washington received since our last meeting; sometimes we would deal with the program or purposes of a forthcoming visiting group or individuals. I made it clear anyone's views or suggestions were welcome whether or not he was directly concerned. Then I would go around the circle and ask each member whether he had anything to raise or tell us about in his special field.
The meetings usually lasted from 15 to 45 minutes. We kept them informal and relaxed. I believe they were valued by all those participating; that they made for understanding of each other's problems and the broader picture and above all made for a sense of cohesion and association as part of the Embassy in working for our national interest. The discussions sometimes were stimulating, occasionally dull. Sometimes there were marked differences of viewpoint but never acrimony. Should I be away from Vienna or unable to attend, the meetings were presided over by my deputy chief of mission. They were never canceled.
In addition on Wednesday, I held at 10:30 a meeting of somewhat similar nature attended by all of the country team but with an additional 20 or so members of the Embassy staff and representatives of other agencies. Each one present regardless of rank was given the opportunity to report or to raise a question. The Wednesday meetings usually lasted about 45 minutes. I think they were an important factor making for high morale.
In his recent testimony Mr. Harriman said he believes our Ambassadors today: Have more important functions than ever. The relationships which he builds with other governments and the manner in which he carries out instructions, can play a vital role in the development of our relations with the country to which he is accredited. I agree with this view.
It should never be forgotten that historically and currently the Ambassador is the personal representative of the President with all this means. It is fortunate, therefore, that the authority of the Ambassador in the field has been strengthened in recent years. President Kennedy's letter of May 27, 1961, quoted in your “Basic Issues” study, gave us all necessary authority and powers.
I have the impression that the country team concept, as far as the field is concerned is functioning with increasing effectiveness. If an