President Donald Trump and his Secretary of State pick Rex Tillerson have a long road ahead of them after mass resignations were handed in on Wednesday by senior members of the State Department.
A report by The Washington Post‘s Josh Rogin states, “the entire senior level of management officials resigned Wednesday” as part of an “ongoing mass exodus of senior foreign service officers who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era.”
The resignations flew in faster than they could be managed after Tillerson visited the State Department headquarters. He was visiting to follow up on the resignation of long-serving undersecretary for management, Patrick Kennedy.
Right after Kennedy resigned three other top State Department officials, Assistant Secretary of State for Administration Joyce Anne Barr, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Michele Bond and Ambassador Gentry O. Smith, director of the Office of Foreign Missions, all took his lead and quit the agency they had faithfully served.
“It’s the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember, and that’s incredibly difficult to replicate,” David Wade, who served as State Department chief of staff during John Kerry’s tenure as Secretary of State, tells the Post.
“Department expertise in security, management, administrative and consular positions in particular are very difficult to replicate and particularly difficult to find in the private sector.”
“Diplomatic security, consular affairs, there’s just not a corollary that exists outside the department, and you can least afford a learning curve in these areas where issues can quickly become matters of life and death,” Wade added. “The muscle memory is critical. These retirements are a big loss. They leave a void. These are very difficult people to replace.”
Tillerson will now be tasked with finding qualified and experienced career officials to manage the State Department. That could prove to be a difficult job as State Department workers question what serving under Donald Trump will mean for the future.
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James Kosur is the former Editor-In-Chief and co-founder of Hill Reporter. He recently served as an editor for Business Insider and various other publications. James and his partners sold Hill Reporter to a new owner in July 2019.