Spending less time overseas ["Powell Flies in the Face of Tradition," front page, July 14] has allowed Secretary of State Colin L. Powell to spend time mending the Foreign Service. Previous secretaries traveled a lot and commissioned studies detailing how badly broken the Foreign Service was. This secretary, however, determined it was not broken but had simply been ignored and starved by Congress.

Mr. Powell began the repair process by saying in his confirmation hearing, "While the world has been growing more demanding and more complex, while more and more nations demand and need our attention, we have cut the number of people in the State Department; we have underfunded our facilities; we have neglected our infrastructure. We need to do better." During the next 31/2 years, he used his "home" time to implement needed reforms, to lobby Congress for resources and to empower his deputies to fix the problems.

Mr. Powell also energized the Foreign Service by saying from the start that he would rely upon us to do the work of the American people.

As a result, we are starting to get support and resources. Morale is higher than it has been in a quarter-century. Now asked to serve in a more dangerous and difficult world, the Foreign Service has responded. When the secretary asked for volunteers to staff the new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, more than 1,000 of my colleagues bid for fewer than 200 positions.

This officer is grateful that Mr. Powell decided to stay home and strengthen the State Department's Foreign Service.


Second Secretary, Economic Section

U.S. Embassy