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OUR FOREIGN SERVICE IN PERSPECTIVE
Since I have spent 18 of my 21 years in foreign relations working overseas, my experience and the comments in this memorandum deal necessarily with the problems of staffing and operations as seen from the field.
During this time I have had a good opportunity to watch and study the evolution of our Foreign Service and our foreign policy.
The handling of our foreign affairs in 1963 is, in my view, far superior to what it was in 1942-45 when I was first exposed to it. The fold” Foreign Service, if I may use that term, inevitably reflected the isolationist traditions and policies of the United States. Within it there were many brilliant and hard-working officers who have made a distinguished contribution to the conduct of our foreign policies. At the other end were large numbers unaccustomed to dealing with a continuous succession of problems of the kind that now confront us, which require decisions, recommendations, and action.
Because of our isolationist tradition, the "old" Foreign Service was more often a reporting service than an action service; the range of problems on which it worked was much narrower; and the operation as a whole was often haphazard. Prior to World War II, an embassy worked with a tiny staff, and its knowledge of a country was necessarily limited, as were its contacts. On the other hand, there was a fine esprit de corps" and relations among officers were personal and friendly.
My first experiences during World War II of the way foreign policy was formulated in Washington came as a shock. While policy was often brilliant and well executed, it was generally improvised and there were great gaps. There was no system for formulating policy nor was it well coordinated with other agencies. Moreover, policy was not recorded in a fashion or a form that enabled the people in the field to know clearly what our aims or objectives were or how to achieve them. All this is, of course, well known.
What is not sufficiently appreciated is how far we have improved since those days. Our Foreign Service today can hold its own in any company, and, indeed, in many countries the embassies of friendly nations turn to us for we are usually the best informed. Descriptive reporting has been replaced by reporting for action purposes. The demands on our Foreign Service officers for precision, accuracy, analysis in depth, as well as for security, discretion, and representation become more severe with every year that passes. There is a growing discipline and pride of achievement. Competition within the Service is severe for our efficiency reports have become better and better instruments for assessing the qualities of an officer for purposes of promotion or selection out. The Foreign Service inspection is vastly improved.
Washington now produces for the field excellent statements of our basic policy for each country and "guidelines” for action which are coordinated through the mechanism of the National Security Council and other devices. In the field one no longer works in the dark. The constant exchanges between the embassies and the State Department permit adjustments and revision of basic policy and "guidelines” to the field. As to the sagacity of our policies and activities, this of
course depends on the quality and judgment of the key people in the State Department and in the field. It must, however, be said that in foreign affairs problems are often tremendously complicated and intractable and there are often no ready solutions.
The integration of State Department and the Foreign Service officers was a desirable and necessary reform. It is now the case that State Department officers dealing with foreign affairs must have field experience; and integration has opened up many more opportunities within the State Department for Foreign Service officers on home assignment. At the same time I feel that this reform-accomplished under the Wriston Report—was too extensive and too rapid. A more gradual and selective approach would have produced less anguish and dislocation and made for a smoother transition.
Some of the worst mistakes of this integration have been corrected, although further adjustments are needed. I believe one of these is to restore the former practice of classifying subordinate administrative or "housekeeping” positions as Foreign Service Staff officers. There is no point in pretending that a budget or accounting clerk or similar "housekeeping" officer is interchangeable with a Foreign Service officer, who is a professional engaged in substantive work, or that the two can be treated in the same promotion system. The occasional administrative officer with great general ability should, of course, be afforded the opportunity for transfer to the Foreign Service officer category. Likewise a Foreign Service officer at the lower grades should have a short apprenticeship in the administrative section of an embassy to acquaint him with the work in this area.
The members of the subcommittee will note in this memorandum how frequently I have used the words “senior officers," "section chiefs," and "quality," "experience," and "versatility” especially “at the top. This is the great need. Every embassy needs three or four such Officers. It is they who inject their staff with enthusiasm, make even the most humdrum work seem important and exciting, and bring out the best in their subordinates. It is they who in the final analysis are in a position to train and develop the talent needed at the top. Although the ambassador gives tone and direction to a mission, it is the senior officers who are his eyes and ears, and sometimes his mouth. The needs of the Foreign Service around the world are for 300 to 400 officers of the highest quality and the Department needs about the same number. There are many now in place and I see no reason why the balance cannot be developed within the next few years.
The Foreign Service is no "striped pants” profession. One rarely wears them these days. It is an exacting, arduous profession requiring hard work, skills, devotion, sacrifice, discipline, strong nerves, and judgment. It is worthy of the best brains and talent that the United States can provide.
That our Foreign Service has been able to weather the whirlwind changes of the last 18 years, has adjusted to the new and heavy responsibilities thrust upon it since 1945, and has emerged in as good form as it has from the repeated reorganizations and assaults is a tribute in large measure to that stalwart group of first rate "old-line" Foreign Service officers, most of whom have now retired. It is they who have nurtured, encouraged, protected and educated the present generation of Foreign Service officers during these turbulent years
There are now moving into many senior positions the new generation bred during the time when the United States assumed great international responsibilities. In this new generation there are many men of first rate ability and I look forward with confidence to rising standards of staff and performance in our Foreign Service, providing we have seen the last of the major reorganizations and drastic changes. What the career Foreign Service needs now is to be allowed to settle down, perfect its operations, do its job, and develop an "esprit de corps" that is so essential to any good organization.
ADMINISTRATION OF NATIONAL SECURITY
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 1963
STAFFING AND OPERATIONS,
Washington, D.C. (This hearing was held in executive session and subsequently ordered made public by the chairman of the committee.)
The subcommittee met at 9 a.m., pursuant to notice, in room 3112, New Senate Office Building, Senator Henry M. Jackson (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Senators Jackson, Pell, and Brewster. Staff members present: Dorothy Fosdick, staff director; Richard S. Page, research assistant; Judith J. Spahr, chief clerk; and Laurel A. Engberg, minority consultant.
Also present: Benjamin Weiner, special assistant to the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Administration; Roy Little, special assistant to the Deputy Under Secretary of State; Richard A. Mintz, assistant, Office of Public Affairs, Bureau of Administration; and Godfrey Harris, project officer, Bureau of Inter-American Affairs.
OPENING STATEMENT OF THE CHAIRMAN
Senator Jackson. The committee will come to order. Today, our subcommittee will take testimony on the role of the State Department in the conduct of our relations with other countries, with particular reference to problems of State Department management and personnel.
This subject is part of the subcommittee's broad nonpartisan inquiry into problems of national security staffing and operations in Washington and abroad.
In a statement in November 1961, at the conclusion of our earlier study, I said: “No task is more urgent than improving the effectiveness of the Department of State. The initial staff report in this present study, issued in January 1963 and entitled “Administration of National Security: Basic Issues,” indicates the questions in which We are particularly interested.
The subcommittee has sought the counsel of many past and present Government officials concerned with the State Department and the national policy process. In March of this year, we took testimony on the role of the Department from Under Secretary of State Averell Harriman, and from two longtime students of the State Depart