State Department gears turning slowly, frustrating Tillerson

Almost all of the vacant positions at State are currently filled by veteran foreign or civil service officers, many of whom have spent years focused on particular policy issues.

“The acting assistant secretaries are excellent people,” said Countryman, who was ousted from State in January. “It’s not as if there is nobody there doing those jobs.”

But virtually all of those longtime civil and foreign servants joined the federal government under previous Democratic and Republicans administrations — and they don’t necessarily have the express backing of the 45th president.