The US Diplomatic Studies Foundation looks to provide support for a rigorous, effective, and efficient State Department training continuum that prepares national security leaders at every stage of their careers. The State Department is a crucial national security agency, whose officers and employees require a training program on par with their national security counterparts in the military, law enforcement, and intelligence communities. As the National Security Strategy states, “Our diplomats must be able to build and sustain relationships...Relationships, developed over time, create trust and shared understanding that the United States calls upon when confronting security threats, responding to crises, and encouraging others to share the burden for tackling the world’s challenges.” Years of experience in and research on the State Department has led us to conclude that a critical step towards achieving this goal is bolstering the training and education of our Foreign and Civil Service Officers.
Our group first assembled to publish reports on National Security Council and State Department reform. However, through the four years of research and interviews, we learned how the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Agency, and the uniformed services have improved and expanded both the initial and ongoing education and training of their personnel. By contrast, Foreign and Civil Service employees of the State Department undergo relatively short training, averaging six weeks when they come on board and none of which is residential. Continuing education is brief at best, aside from languages and economics. Overall, there is much room for growth in the education and training opportunities offered throughout the careers of our diplomats.
We have established a private foundation to assist the State Department in improving and expanding the courses and faculty at its Chief Learning Organization, the Foreign Service Institute. The model of using private funds to contribute to the education of officers is well established by other government departments and agencies, including the Marine Corps University Fund and the West Point Association of Graduates. By working together with the department, the US Diplomatic Studies Foundation can help FSI substantially increase its education and training offerings to State Department personnel.