From the peanut fields of Alabama to the Foreign Service

On this week’s episode of “Conversations with Nicholas Kralev,” Jimmy Mauldin, a Foreign Service officer currently serving in India, talks about his unlikely path from the peanut fields of Alabama to American diplomacy, and about raising a family in the Foreign Service.

What soldiers can learn from diplomats in war zones

On this week’s episode of “Conversations with Nicholas Kralev,” Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen, superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, talks about the different approaches America’s soldiers and diplomats employ in war zones, and what they have learned about each other in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Foreign Service school adds 100 classrooms

Historically, the State Department hasn’t been a big champion of education and training — it has relied mostly on diplomats learning their craft on the job, and taking time for a course at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) in Arlington, Va., was long deemed almost futile.

The introductory A-100 class every new diplomats is required to take, has been shortened several times over the past two decades, and is now only five weeks long. Given that many Americans join the Foreign Service with no significant knowledge, background or experience in foreign affairs, it’s hard to understand how they can be prepared to represent the United States abroad in five weeks, before they arrive at their first posts.