Page 12 - Foreign Service Journal - February 2013

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Learning from Benghazi
n Dec. 19, AFSA issued a
commending the compre-
hensive Accountability Review Board
report on the tragic events of Sept. 11,
2012, when four U.S. ofcials, including
Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed
at the special mission in Benghazi,
Te full text of the unclassifed ver-
sion of the ARB report is available on
State’s Web site (
are its 24 key recommendations, all of
which the Obama administration has
pledged to implement :
Te Department [of State] must
strengthen security for personnel and
platforms beyond traditional reliance
on host government security support in
high-risk, high-threat posts. Te depart-
ment should urgently review the proper
balance between acceptable risk and
expected outcomes in high-risk, high-
threat areas. While the answer cannot
be to refrain from operating in such
environments, the department must do
so on the basis of having: 1) a defned,
attainable and prioritized mission; 2) a
clear-eyed assessment of the risk and
costs involved; 3) a commitment of suf-
fcient resources to mitigate these costs
and risks; 4) an explicit acceptance of
those costs and risks that cannot be
mitigated; and 5) constant attention
to changes in the situation, including
when to leave and perform the mis-
sion from a distance. Te United States
must be self-reliant and enterprising in
developing alternate security plat-
forms, profles and stafng footprints
to address such realities. Assessments
must be made on a case-by-case basis
and repeated as circumstances change.
Te Board recommends that the
department re-examine [Bureau of
Diplomatic Security] organization and
management, with a particular empha-
sis on span of control for security policy
planning for all overseas U.S. diplomatic
facilities. In this context, the recent
creation of a new Diplomatic Security
Deputy Assistant Secretary for High-
Treat Posts could be a positive frst
step if integrated into a sound strategy
for DS reorganization.
As the president’s personal rep-
resentative, the chief of mission bears
“direct and full responsibility for the
security of [his or her] mission and all
the personnel for whom [he or she is]
responsible,” and thus for risk manage-
ment in the country to which he or
she is accredited. In Washington, each
regional assistant secretary has a cor-
responding responsibility to support the
chief of mission in executing this duty.
Regional bureaus should have aug-
mented support within the bureau on
security matters, to include a senior DS
ofcer to report to the regional assistant
Te department should establish
a panel of outside independent experts
(military, security, humanitarian) with
experience in high-risk, high-threat
areas to support DS, identify best prac-
tices (from other agencies and other
countries), and regularly evaluate U.S.
security platforms in high-risk, high-
threat posts.
The department needs
to review the stafng
footprints at high-risk,
high-threat posts, with
particular attention to
ensuring adequate Locally
Employed Staf and
management support.
Attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012.