Tag Archives: State Department

Reflections on a First Tour

I’m nearly done here.  It’s time to move on.  My replacement has arrived and she is learning to take over my responsibilities.  This is the nature of this business; you move to a place, finally settle down and begin to understand what motivates the people that live there, and then it is time to say goodbye.  As the days begin to pass more quickly and my colleagues begin positioning themselves to manage our office’s responsibilities without me, I find myself clinging to relevance.  A relevance that is likely imagined, but seemed real every once in a while.  I realize now that I am in no hurry to relinquish my life as a Political Officer in Bahrain, but I know that is exactly what is happening, whether I like it or not.

Bahrain Fort @ magic hour

Bahrain Fort @ magic hour

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The Price of Service

I recently realized the price I paid by joining the State Department when my cousin in Iran died. Continue reading

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Acronymania, or Why I Named My Blog TLA

The first day I walked into my office at Embassy Manama, I remember hearing someone say something like this:  “Aaron, call the GSO and ask him to give you an update on your HHE and UAB ASAP, and then get on the low side, draft some language for the CDA about today’s activities before COB… Oh and cc me on an email to the RSO and tell him PolEcon needs to get the latest info by OOB DC-time, because we have a VVIP coming soon.  I’ll be on my BB if you need me.”  That is a perfectly average number of abbreviations and acronyms for a request from your supervisor if you work for the Department of State (DOS).  Acronyms serve a purpose: to reduce the number or words you need to use, both in verbal and written communication.  However, if you work for DOS then you are capable of creating an acronym out of anything.  This can get out of hand (OOH).  Soon, you begin to create acronyms and abbreviations where they are not necessarily useful and apply them as though they are common knowledge (CK) for Junior Officers (JO).  As you may have noticed, in State (short for DOS) you can create an acronym by simply putting the letters that represent a phrase in parentheses right after said phrase.  One such example occurred the earlier in my stay in Bahrain, when a VIP asked me if I had answered his staff’s RFI?  RFI?  Maybe I should have known that, but alas I was unfamiliar with the three letters that made me feel like an idiot.  But what I realized later was that it takes time to learn these acronyms and many VIPs get OOH and assume that these acronyms should be CK for many JOs at DOS, and that’s just BS.

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