In The State of State: A Proposal for Reorganization at Foggy Bottom, I intentionally focused on the high-level orientation of the State Department. This is an imperative to make the department relevant and capable today. It is no longer accurate to say that State is the foreign policy of the President when the Defense Department owns or dominates so much of the direct and indirect engagement, willfully or not, with global publics and governments. Parity in the organizations is necessary as the two models are not compatible. If the Defense Department were restructured in the mold of the State Department, General McChrystal in Afghanistan would call the shots and General Petraeus, as CENTCOM commander, would no longer directly report to the Secretary of Defense and would be subordinated in rank and responsibilities to McChrystal.
I knew that shifting the operational focus of the Department from countries to regions, along with the creation of additional under secretaries, would cause significant ripples of changes and require others that may not be immediately apparent. One example is a reader’s recommendation of the need to create specialists, one lost attribute of USIA officers.
The State Department creates Generalists. What it needs are Regionalists. It does the nation little good if its exemplar diplomats are being punted continent to continent.