A-100 Class

A-100 is the colloquial name given to the introductory/orientation training class for incoming Foreign Service Officers. These courses are taught in the Foreign Service Institute at the National Foreign Affairs Training Center in Arlington, Virginia. The purpose of the class is to provide orientation to the United States Department of State, information on embassy operation and foreign affairs, intelligence collection and dissemination, State Department computer systems, and the roles different categories of personnel perform in the conduct of diplomacy. It is the basic job-orientation course for the United States Foreign Service before diplomats branch off into different career tracks or geographic specialties.

This class is currently five weeks long and typically has between 75 and 100 students. During the first day of the class, students learn about their fellow classmates and give presentations on them. The first week of the class is devoted to security briefings, the issuing of laptops and State Department identification cards, and indoctrination into the more classified aspects of the Foreign Service. The class is an opportunity to learn about the Foreign Service, not a discussion forum for foreign policy; as public servants, Foreign Service Officers, when acting in their official capacity, are obligated to defend publicly and to implement the foreign policy directives and objectives of the federal government of the United States, notwithstanding any personal or political reservations.

Subsequent weeks examine State Department organizational structure, drafting and editing, the organizational structure of an Embassy, public speaking, and protocol. While the majority of the class takes place at the National Foreign Affairs Training Center, there are some field trips to other U.S. Government foreign affairs agencies, as well as off site team-building training that lasts for two days and normally takes place at a resort in West Virginia.

Towards the end of the course, students are informed of their first assignments, usually overseas, during the 'Flag Day' ceremony, so named because they are presented with a small flag of the country to which the have been assigned. After A-100, additional training is personalized to the individual depending on his or her overseas posting and/or language ability and post requirements.

Members often maintain contact with each other throughout their entire careers, and regard A-100 classmates much like high school or college classmates. A-100 classes are numbered sequentially. The class numbers were restarted with the enactment of the Foreign Service Act of 1980, and several groups have shared numbers over the years.


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