Dear American Legion Family members and friends,
America faces threats on a regular basis from adversaries such as Russia and China. Diplomacy plays a significant role in maintaining peace while ensuring our national security in cooperation with our strategic partners.
Our ambassadors fulfill that duty, often without the fanfare they deserve for being on the front lines of maintaining vital relationships with nations from Albania to Zambia.
However, there is an ongoing issue in filling ambassador roles. In fact, The American Legion National Executive Committee passed Resolution 25 in May 2022 expressing concerns about the issue. At the time of the resolution, there were 61 of 190 ambassador positions unfilled with 28 pending approvals by the Senate.
Right now there are 26 ambassador vacancies worldwide, with 15 nominees awaiting action in the Senate. That vacancy rate is in line with the historical average of 13%. But it’s not just the number of vacancies. Some of the openings are in highly strategic or volatile areas of the world. Among them: Italy, Colombia, Ethiopia, Kuwait, Niger, Saudi Arabia, Solomon Islands and the United Arab Emirates.
When an ambassador is not in place, the deputy chief of mission takes on the role as acting chief of mission, formally referred to as chargé d’affaires. Embassies remain fully staffed and personnel rotate on schedules independent of ambassador appointments.
Still, this represents a significant step back from a full-time ambassador. Chiefs of mission typically do not have access to higher levels of government of the host nation, which weakens the communications between Washington and the host nation. Chiefs of missions are also less likely to communicate directly with the U.S. president and receive less attention from the federal government.
The 2022 National Security Strategy (NSS) states that “a competition is underway between the major powers to shape what comes next” in the world, singling out China and Russia as presenting particular but different challenges. Mutually beneficial alliances and partnerships are our greatest global strategic advantage in this competition. We cannot meet these complex and interconnected challenges alone. Therefore, ensuring the greatest number of ambassadorial vacancies are filled is a national security imperative."
The American Legion believes that our nation is stronger and safer when there is a full contingent of ambassadors in place. That's why I have sent letters to the president and senate, respectfully urging expeditious action on this matter. It is, after all, a matter of our national security.
National Commander Vincent J. “Jim” Troiola