Our embassies in the field today look and operate very differently than in the past. Many have a large presence with representatives from a number of agencies of the U.S. Government who run, manage, and implement programs that advance the array of U.S. interests overseas.
As the President’s representative, the Chief of Mission, commonly an Ambassador, directs and supervises all activities in country and coordinates the resources and programs of the U.S. Government through the Country Team, with the exception of employees under the command of a United States area military commander and other exceptions consistent with existing statutes and authorities. For some time now, the Ambassador has been the Chief Executive Officer of a multi-agency mission. And the best Ambassadors play that role effectively. For example, our mission in Kabul, Afghanistan, which includes more than 550 State and 390 USAID personnel as well as 1,000 locally employed staff. A large portion of our work there consists of traditional diplomacy. But our Ambassador also leads 300 civilians from 11 other Federal agencies, including disaster relief and reconstruction experts helping to rebuild the country; specialists in health, energy, communications, finance, agriculture, and justice; and military personnel working with the Afghan Government and military to partner in the fight against violent extremists. Meanwhile, our post in Brussels has dozens of U.S. Government agencies represented, all of which are engaged daily with host government ministries, the institutions of the European Union, businesses, and civil society.
“...we are empowering our Chiefs of Mission...”
Today, given the wide array of U.S. agencies and actors and the corresponding need for coordination and leadership, it is essential that all Ambassadors are both empowered and held accountable as CEOs. While the Country Team is the primary vehicle for that direction and coordination, not every agency has an attaché in every country and Chiefs of Mission must also reach back to the interagency in Washington on issues of strategic planning and implementation that relate to agencies not represented in the field. In this regard, we are empowering our Chiefs of Mission by:
Through these efforts, our Chiefs of Mission are better equipped to serve as CEOs of multiagency missions and our foreign relations are being led more effectively. Our diplomats are seeing the whole and understand how programs of different agencies fit together—and fit within our overall objectives in a country.