Country Team: Restructuring America's First Line of Engagement   [open pdf - 263KB]

"U.S. Embassies are confronting unprecedented challenges that do not fall neatly into diplomacy's traditional categories of political, economic, and consular affairs. A rising tide of transnational threats coupled with weak governance in fragile states poses serious risks that demand concerted action. U.S. Embassy staffs--our Country Teams--are ideally positioned as the first lines of engagement to face challenges to U.S. national interests. Yet effective interagency collaboration is often a hit-or-miss proposition, due to diluted authority, antiquated organizational structures, and insufficient resources. The Ambassador is not sufficiently empowered to act effectively as the Country Team's leader. Despite longstanding policy to the contrary, the Ambassador often is regarded not as the President's representative but as the State Department's envoy. Thus, personnel from other U.S. agencies tend to pursue their own lines of communication and operation, with inadequate coordination among them. Civilian resource deficiencies exacerbate the problems emerging from agency-centric structures and behaviors. In practice, it is difficult for the U.S. Government to allocate resources to strategic priorities at the country level. Given the critical challenges, it is time to reinvigorate the Country Team's role in achieving U.S. national security objectives. The team must be reconfigured as a cross-functional entity with an empowered and recognized single leader for all agencies. The Country Team's makeover must be holistic--to include new strategy and planning approaches, decision-making procedures, personnel training and incentives, and resource-allocation flexibility."

Report Number:
Strategic Forum (September 2007), no.227
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
National Defense University, Institute for National Strategic Studies: http://www.ndu.edu/inss
Media Type:
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