Edit: Her family has made a public statement, so I have added her name.
This afternoon, I discovered an e-mail from Secretary Kerry in my inbox informing us that Foreign Service Officer Anne Smedinghoff was among the six Americans killed in an attack in the Afghanistan’s Zabul province. Four other Americans were wounded, one critically, according to news reports.
As I’ve said before, the Foreign Service is small and a loss like this reverberates through the Foreign Service community even though many of us did not know Anne. There are fewer FSOs than military band members according to former Secretary of Defense Gates, and it’s usually only one or two degrees of separation between any two Foreign Service members.
While I never met Anne, she joined the Foreign Service around the same time I did and served alongside friends of mine in her first post and again in Kabul. So, I have several mutual friends with her and those who knew her spoke very highly of her. As an entry level officer, she volunteered for service in Afghanistan even after serving her first tour in Caracas, another difficult and dangerous city. There are not too many entry level jobs in Afghanistan and it’s quite competitive to get one. For most other second tour posts, you simply submit a list of posts and a few sentences about why you’re bidding on them. However, the process is more involved for Afghanistan and you need to write an essay and get recommendations from your supervisors and the leadership of your post if you apply to a job there. So, to secure a second tour in Afghanistan, she must have really wanted the job and been highly regarded by her supervisors and her first post’s leadership.
The Foreign Service and the United States lost a dedicated young lady today. So, please keep Anne, the others who died or were injured in the attacks, and their friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.