Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered remarks at the first-ever Global Chief of Mission Conference at the Department of State on February 2, 2011. Secretary Clinton highlighted how crucial civilian power is to America's leadership in the world and to our national security, and the role of our ambassadors in carrying out the goals of the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR).
The Secretary said, "...[A]s we see with what's going on today, recent events in Egypt and certainly in that broader region, remind us all how crucial it is to have top-notch leadership on the ground, and how quickly that ground can shift under our feet. So whether your mission is large or small, whether you're a political appointee or a career diplomat, you are all on the front lines of America's engagement with a fast-changing world. And that's why we think this conference is so important.
"It goes without saying -- but I will say it anyway -- that this is a critical time for America's global leadership. We have spent two years renewing our alliances, forging new partnerships, and elevating diplomacy and development alongside defense as pillars of American foreign policy and national security. Now, as we look to the next two years, it is time to build on that progress and deliver results -- results that are expected from ourselves and certainly from the Congress and the American public.
"We're going to be looking to see how we can advance America's interests and values on security, on climate change, on boosting exports, and rebalancing the global economy on all of our core priorities. But I will hasten to say we face a very difficult budget climate and we face an increasingly complex, no easy answers if there ever were any, diplomatic and development environment. From the theft of confidential cables to 21st century protest movements to development breakthroughs that have the potential to change millions of lives, we are all in uncharted territory, and that requires us to be more nimble, more innovative, and more accountable than ever before."
Secretary Clinton emphasized the importance of the chiefs of missions in executing the QDDR. She said, "...[A]s chiefs of mission, you are at the heart of the QDDR's vision for the future, and you will be at the core of its implementation. Let me be clear. This Department, USAID, I, our deputies, our under secretaries, assistant secretaries -- we cannot do this from Washington. This has to live and breathe in you and through you. And that is what we are hoping to advance together...As the President's representative, you are responsible for directing and coordinating all U.S. personnel in your countries. And to effectively manage increasingly complicated operations with personnel drawn from all across the government, you have to truly be CEOs of multi-agency missions."
In closing, the Secretary said, "...I am a big and -- a big believer and a strong advocate of American leadership. I think that we have a tough road ahead, but it's one we ought to be able to navigate together. I don't think it is time for us to sort of pull in, but instead to push forward. And it really is going to be up to you...So help us institutionalize the changes we need, change the structures that will support the kind of diplomacy and development our country deserves, help us to be sure we sustain American leadership and values, and we will do a great service on behalf of the country we love and serve together."
You can read the Secretary's complete remarks here.