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Foreign Service Officers


The Foreign Service is a branch of the U.S. Department of State, which plans and carries out U.S. foreign policy under the authority of the president. Established in 1789, the State Department was placed under the direction of Thomas Jefferson, the first U.S. secretary of state and the senior officer in President George Washington's cabinet. It was his responsibility to initiate foreign policy on behalf of the U.S. government, advise the president on matters related to foreign policy, and administer the foreign affairs of the United States with the help of employees both at home and abroad.

The Foreign Service wasn't actually established until 1924, when the Diplomatic and Consular Services were brought together as one organization. The Foreign Service was formed in anticipation of a trade war; security issues became the service's focus with World War II and remained so throughout the Cold War. With the end of the Cold War, issues such as trade protection and combating terrorism have come to the forefront of the service's concerns. Other foreign policy issues facing today's Foreign Service officers include the global struggle to eliminate diseases such as Ebola, the development of nuclear weapons by "rogue" nations, efforts to protect the environment, international law enforcement regarding drug trafficking, and science and technology issues.