Middle East War Story Interrupted

Old Chinese saying: “As long as you’re planning a journey, you own the journey. The minute you embark on that journey, the journey owns you.” I officially embarked on my journey to Am Consul Karachi at the State Department cafeteria at 2:00 p.m. on a Friday, three weeks prior to my departure. My boss Norm…

The Aspen Detail | Home Leave in L.A.

In late September 1977, with my assignment to Karachi, Pakistan looming in the near future, the department approved a week of home leave to return to Southern California. When I arrived back at the radio shop in Springfield Norm Bates had handed me my official travel orders for my assignment at the Am Consul Karachi,…

Flashback | The Induction: “You’re in the Army Now!”

I never realized it during the journey, but my life has passed through a series of open gates. Although “open” the gates were guarded and required the right password or document for me to gain entry. Each gate led to a larger more sophisticated gate and outside the gate the environment became increasingly more foreign…

Personnel Notification | Be Careful What You Wish For

FAM 013.5-2 Foreign Service Personnel (Foreign Affairs Manual)  Under the Foreign Service Act, the Secretary of State administers and directs the Foreign Service and coordinates its activities with the needs of the Department and other agencies and consults with other agencies using the Foreign Service personnel system (USAID, Foreign Agricultural Service, Foreign Commercial Service) to…

Am Embassy Paris | In Support of the Cyrus Vance Protective Detail

While assigned to Springfield, Virginia awaiting our first assignment overseas, the most engaging task for the OC Bandits involved the support of the Office of Security or S.Y. protective details when the Secretary of State traveled on official business. Cyrus Vance took over for Henry Kissinger in 1977. During his tenure as Secretary of State…

Limited Official Use | Monkey Brains With Rice

The message I held in my hand confirmed my first overseas trip in support of Secretary of State Cyrus Vance. The Secretary would attend the Conference on International Economic Development in Paris on May 28th. It was proof that I didn’t have much time—I’d better get my shit together. LIMITED OFFICIAL USE 250950Z MAY 77…

Special Agent Martin V

Someone said that the strength of the Foreign Service are its people. They come from all walks of life. Most follow the traditional path: a university degree with a major in political science, economics, and the like. To prepare for a Foreign Service career they might become an intern in Washington D.C. They might contact their congressmen for…

The Foreign Service | An Education of Sorts

  Back in the 1970’s, no one hired on with the U.S. Department of State to get rich. My base salary began at around $12,000 per year. I don’t recall many Foreign Service Officers owning homes given that they were out of the country most of their careers. Living overseas had its benefits. Housing was…