The State Department has been having a tough time getting enough of its people to go and serve in Iraq. Because of this "the department" is thinking of giving its employees the choice of accepting such assignments or losing their jobs. Interesting. I find it particularly interesting becasue of all the good and brave Foreign service officers whom I have known. Interesting and sad.
The State Department has several "classes" of employees. First, there is the "Foreign Service." These are the carefully screened and competitively selected (allowing for affirmative action) members of the career "diplomatic service." They are supposedly commissioned officers of the United States. They are not members of the uniformed services, but nevertheless are actually something more than mere employees. Like soldiers they are sworn to their duty when commissioned. Evidently, that responsibility sits lightly on some of them. These folks receive large overseas bonuses depending on the "hardship" of the post. In Iraq, the bonuses when added together amount to something close to 100% of pay. Then there are also benefits provided with regard to the education of children in very nice schools, sometimes in Europe, etc.
Then, there are civil servants employed by "the department." They have a plausible case if they object to involuntary assignments. They did not sign up for that. They signed up to work in the States.
"Who will raise our children?" That’s a good question. The "grunts," horse soldiers, marines, air crew, etc., have been asking that question since time immemorial. There are various answers, none of them good.
"Such an assignment is equivalent to a sentence of death." A long serving Foreign Service officer said this yesterday in a meeting protesting this "injustice." Interesting. You can take all the "fallen" of the civilian parts of the government from all the years of the republic and write all their names on a wall together and the numbers will look ridiculous when compared to the Army’s dead in one day on many, many occasions.
Ah, but these were just "common soldiers." (irony) pl