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Posted by: mcq on Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I read this story the other day and to say it frosted me would be an understatement:
"Incoming is coming in every day, rockets are hitting the Green Zone," said Jack Croddy, a senior foreign service officer who once worked as a political adviser with NATO forces.

He and others confronted Foreign Service Director General Harry Thomas, who approved the move to "directed assignments" late last Friday to make up for a lack of volunteers willing to go to Iraq.

"It's one thing if someone believes in what's going on over there and volunteers, but it's another thing to send someone over there on a forced assignment," Croddy said. "I'm sorry, but basically that's a potential death sentence and you know it. Who will raise our children if we are dead or seriously wounded?"
We have service members on their 5th combat tours and Croddy, et. al., are whining about "potential death sentences?" How unseemly. How freaking unseemly. And that in the face of this factoid:
No U.S. diplomats have been killed in Iraq, although the security situation is precarious and completion of a new fortified embassy compound and living quarters has been beset by logistical and construction problems.
The other salient factoid?
Under the new order, 200 to 300 diplomats have been identified as "prime candidates" to fill 48 vacancies that will open next year at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and in the provinces. Those notified have 10 days to accept or reject the position. If not enough say yes, some will be ordered to go.
48 slots. And assuming 50% will agree (and that's probably low), that means 24 will go involuntarily. Most all of them will serve in the Green Zone.

I talked to a COL last week who calls himself the "ultimate fobbit" (Although he does get outside the GZ to do his job. "Fobbit" in today's parlance is akin to REMF during VN.) and says the incoming fire is as random as lightning strikes and you have about as much of a chance of getting hit by fire as you do struck by lightning. In fact he says the biggest danger he faces is overeating. "The food is very good here and there's plenty of it".

John Matel is a career Foreign Service Officer (FSO) who is currently serving as the team leader of the Provincial Reconstruction Team embedded in Al Asad, Al Anbar Province and had this to say to his diplo-wimp colleagues:
I personally dislike the whole idea of forced assignments, but we do have to do our jobs. We signed up to be worldwide available. All of us volunteered for this kind of work and we have enjoyed a pretty sweet lifestyle most of our careers.

I will not repeat what the Marines say when I bring up this subject. I tell them that most FSOs are not wimps and weenies. I will not share this article with them and I hope they do not see it. How could I explain this wailing and gnashing of teeth? I just tried to explain it to one of my PRT members, a reserve LtCol called up to serve in Iraq . She asked me if all FSOs would get the R&R, extra pay etc. and if it was our job to do things like this. When I answered in the affirmative, she just rolled her eyes.

Calling Iraq a death sentence is just way over the top. I volunteered to come here aware of the risks but confident that I will come safely home, as do the vast majority of soldiers and Marines, who have a lot riskier jobs than we FSOs do.
Sweet lifestyle indeed. I remember one of my best friends getting ready to head off to VN for the second time and I ask him what he thought about it. He smiled and said "when you accept the full scholarship, you agree to play in all the games." These diplo-wimps could take a lesson from him.

Matel gives them the bottom-line:
We all know that few FSOs will REALLY be forced to come to Iraq anyway. Our system really does not work like that. This sound and fury at Foggy Bottom truly signifies nothing. Get over it! I do not think many Americans feel sorry for us and it is embarrassing for people with our privileges to paint ourselves as victims.
Indeed. But it certainly illustrates how deeply the cult of the victim has spread in our society, doesn't it?
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Previous Comments to this Post 

c’mon now, you can’t expect these guys to do their job. The union simply wont stand for it.
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
When I first read this I thought of Lt Watada. I think there are concrete parallels. When you sign on in the military you are agreeing to certain requirements. I think foreign service is the same. If you can’t meet those requirements then resign. I’m sure there are plenty of college grads willing to take their places. Maybe even military persons that have ETS’d.
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
"I’m sorry, but basically that’s a potential death sentence and you know it."

Well, tough noogies, but London and Paris are full, and we are running out of room in Washington. I would be willing, however, to throw in a substantial diaper allowance.
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
"It’s one thing if someone believes in what’s going on over there and volunteers,..."

I think this statement gives away the naughty little secret. He obviously doesn’t agree with the current administration’s Iraq policy, and seems to think he gets to pick and choose which policies he works to promote.
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
"Maybe even military persons that have ETS’d."

Speaking for myself ... hell yes. I would love to be an FSO "over there". What do I need to do?
Written By: Eric Chen
URL: http://
Like being an FSO in Nigeria or Colombia or any number of other countries is "safe."
Written By: Harun
URL: http://

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