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Men and Women of the Foreign and Civil Service

Walter and Leonore Annenberg Award Winner



Washington, DC - Dec. 8, 2005
Presentation of award and remarks delivered by Chairman Pickering:

"The annual Award for Excellence in Diplomacy marks a new departure this year. For the first time in our history, we are giving a group award. This year, the Academy’s intention is to honor members of the Foreign and Civil Service who are serving our Government and our people in dangerous, unusual and particularly trying circumstances around the world. The intention of the award is to highlight the many facets of diplomacy, strengthen the American people’s support for individuals at all levels serving in positions of security and other danger and conveying through this process to the members of the Foreign and Civil Service serving in those circumstances our understanding, support and backing for them in their outstanding and unusual efforts.

The Board of this Academy discussed the question of whether particular individuals should be singled out in a symbolic way to receive the award. We decided in the end, that since this was a group award, all members of the group should be treated equally. In that regard, we are pleased and delighted that Nick Burns is with us today to accept the award on behalf of all of its recipients serving all around the world.

Before I ask Nick to receive the award, let me say that we also agreed that we would provide you with some examples of some of the kinds of service that we are working here to recognize and to reward.

One of our awardees, serving her second tour, is a Special Assistant to an Ambassador living and working in a very dangerous environment. Her first tour was another unsettled and difficult area in the Middle East where she stood in as Deputy in the political and economic section. She received a Superior Honorary Award and Extra Mile Award from the Department over the last several years. She briefly served as a Presidential Management Fellow and earned another Superior Honorary Award on that occasion.

Another entry-level officer is currently serving a first tour in the Economic Section in Baghdad. A former military officer, he sits on the country team, regularly briefs the Ambassador and the DCM and covers oil, WTO accession, corruption and budgetary issues among other things and helped to organize a national conference on agriculture.

The Department has also provided us with several examples of mid-level officers and their work as exemplary of those we wish to honor in the award. One officer maintains a vital communications system in Iraq. He travels widely in dangerous areas and is challenged to use creative engineering to operate vital systems throughout the country. He has spent six years in the National Guard and two years in the Peace Corps.

Another mid-level officer has served in a serious of challenging posts from Khartoum and Dakar to Baghdad and Kabul. When asked why he used his “Baghdad equity” to gain an assignment in Kabul, he replied simply “I like to go where I can help people”.

At the senior level, one officer serves in a mission constantly under attack where he helped put together the large and diverse staff required to administer millions of dollars of American assistance. He played a major role in drafting strategies for reconstruction to support major operations. He also played a significant role in convincing the Department to use the services of one major local leader to resolve serious problems with another, including helping to put down a major uprising.

And still another retired officer of the Department who served in an outlying area of Afghanistan was disturbed by a characterization that derided our diplomats as being out of touch with the real world. Mike Metrinko, a former Iranian hostage, wrote a one-page description for the Journal, which better than any of us describes the situation being faced by the people we honor today. If you haven’t read it, I commend it to you.

A number of those we want to honor today are in the audience. I would like a round of applause to show our appreciation.

And now it’s my pleasure to ask Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Nicholas Burns, if he will receive the “Eagle” on behalf of all of the awardees.

Nick, it’s a pleasure to have you here and I can think of no one whom we would rather have accept this award than yourself. We hope it will form part of the Department’s own collection and be displayed for the public. Thank you very much for receiving it. We look forward to hearing your thoughts."

Thomas R. Pickering
Chairman of the Board
American Academy of Diplomacy
Washington, DC - December 8, 2005

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