December 9 2020


George P. Shultz, the 60th U.S. Secretary of State and the founder of the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), turns 100 on December 13, 2020.

As part of the celebration of this remarkable milestone and of Sec. Shultz’s legacy to global security, Ambassador (Ret.) David Fields shares his personal recollections of Sec. Shultz. Fields was the second Director of the Office of Foreign Missions, with the rank of Ambassador, at the U.S. Department of State and served as U.S. Ambassador to the Central African Republic (1986 to 1989) and the Marshall Islands (1992 to 1995).

On Meeting Sec. Shultz:

“Though George Shultz hadn’t ever met me, I did play a very  small role in him ending up as Secretary of State.  The Embassy in London received a call from the White House, asking if we could find Shultz in London. As Administrative Counselor, I asked the senior Security Officer to ask the London police if they could find him for us.

Within an hour, a police officer, with Shultz and his wife, was at the front door of the Embassy. The Shultzes had been shopping and had what I believe was smoked salmon with them. Before entering the Embassy, they gave the salmon to the police officer. Shultz spoke with the White House, and they caught a plane that evening to Washington, D.C., and the rest is history.”

First Introduction to Sec. Shultz:   

“Ronald  Spiers, who was Under Secretary of State for Management, said something like, ‘Mr. Secretary, this is David Fields who was in charge when the Embassy in Pakistan was burned down.’

I don’t remember if Shultz said anything in response, but he looked at me like he was thinking ‘and now this guy is going to be our new head of security.’

[Prior to his founding OSAC in 1985], Sec. Shultz was asked to speak at the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS) in Alexandria, Virginia about his idea of sharing security concerns between the private sector and the State Department.  Someone in the audience asked him how it was going work.  Shultz said, ‘Talk to Dave.’ I confess that I had little idea of how it was going to work! But it turned out fine.”

East-West Relations:

“I travelled with Secretary Shultz to the funeral of Konstantin Chernenko in Moscow [in March 1985]. It was a small group of perhaps five or six people, including Tom Simons and Bernard Kalb. Simon was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State responsible for Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union from 1986 to 1989; he also served in the London, Warsaw, Moscow and Bucharest Embassies and, later, was Ambassador to Pakistan. Kalb was a foreign correspondent before his 1984 appointment as the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs and was the spokesman for the State Department for two years.

The reason I was included was that there was concern, by various government engineers, that the new U.S. Embassy was being built by Soviet personnel, and that they where bugging the building. [Construction began in 1979.] The engineers had written of their concern to me, and I had sent it to Secretary Shultz.

After the funeral, Secretary Shultz and I went to look at the construction. After looking at how the Embassy was being built, Shultz decided to stop the construction and use an American company to complete the work.

After the funeral, the group flew to Reykjavik, Iceland to spend the night on the way back to Washington. The next morning we all ate breakfast together, and the discussion arose of how to pronounce Gorbachev’s name. I recall Secretary Shultz saying that he thought we, the U.S., could work with Gorbachev.”