Our Adventures in Sri Lanka

Safaris to spot leopards and elephants, swimming in the Indian Ocean, sipping tea in the mountains, and several more!

Our Nile Cruise

Starting in Cairo, we sailed to Luxor, Edfu, Kom Ombo, and Aswan.

Trouble at Sea: Our Red Sea Dive Trip in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia

The Red Sea is one of the top diving destinations in the world, but Saudi Arabia is a very restrictive country to get into. That alone would have made the trip memorable...but then things went south and the Saudi Coast Guard and a hospital got involved.

Our Expedition to Jordan

Highlights included tracing the steps of Indiana Jones into Petra, following Lawrence of Arabia into Wadi Rum, and floating in the Dead Sea.

Discovering Turkey

We emersed ourselves in Istanbul, explored the white travertines of Pamukkale, and traced history through Laodikeia, Hierolopolis, and Cleopatra's Baths.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Considering my Options: USAID (5 of 11)

The bad news is that I did not pass my FSO Oral Assessment. You can find a description of the process here. I scored a 5.0 but I needed at least 5.25 to continue in the process. But it did give me an insight into why lawyers seem to do well in the FSO process: they can argue either side of an argument, whether they actually believe in what they are saying or not. But meeting other FSO hopefuls revealed something else to me: I'm not so sure that becoming an FSO would actively engage me in the way I want to make the world a better place...but it would involve a lot of meetings and paperwork. I'm more of a "get your hands dirty" problem solver.

So, now it’s time for Plan C: pursue a USAID Foreign Service Officer position. I've got an application in for a mid-level Backstop 76 "Crisis, Stabilization and Governance Officer" opening...assuming it stays open given the federal budget situation. My current status is "Reviewed - Tentatively Passed Basic Qualifications" but they've already cancelled the entry level opening so there's no telling how that will turn out.

And I do have a few more plans in the works...but most are still in the application phase. But for completeness, let's summarize:
Plan A: Remain in the military [Expected decision: Mar 12]
Plan B: Foreign Service Officer (State Dept) [Closed: Nov 11]
Plan C: Foreign Service Officer (USAID)
Plan D: Foreign Service Construction Engineer
Plan E: Foreign Service Facility Manager

To update the extended metaphor: The plane door is open and the wind is howling, and I just ripped my parachute. So I've got to find a new one and brace myself…we’re in for a bumpy ride.
It's a long way down...
Because of my current service commitments, I can't just jump and see how it all turns out. I'm strapped in until the AF gives me the option to go. When will that be? That all depends on the promotion board’s decision in December as well as the timing of the promotion announcement decision itself. While I received a "Promote" recommendation, the military's funny about these sort of things. I would have had a very high chance of getting promoted with a "Definite Promote" recommendation, but a "Promote" is only about 50% successful for those meeting the promotion board the first time. And since I've already been through the promotion cycle once, my odds are approaching 0%.

It’s complicated to explain, I know. But the timing and conditions of separation (the likely outcome based on current odds) determine which benefits I would receive: veteran’s preference points, separation pay, and possibly even education benefits for my daughter. So there’s quite a bit at stake.
What I'm trying to avoid.
To read my Military to Civilian Transition mini-series in chronological order, Click Here.
To read my Entering the Foreign Service mini-series in chronological order, Click Here.

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Saudi Arabia: So Far, So Good?

We're over two years in to our second tour in the Foreign Service with the US Department of State in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It's hard...

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