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30

MARCH 2017

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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

to security includes cooperating ever more closely with our

Department of Defense colleagues. For example, the number

of Marine security guards posted at our embassies has doubled

from 1,000 to 2,000 in the past decade. We are conducting more

frequent and more complex training exercises with our DOD

counterparts. We also have Diplomatic Security advisers posted

at the headquarters of the U.S. regional combatant commands.

Adapting for an Uncertain Future

Internally, DS has been addressing these emerging and evolv-

ing trends. We have implemented the recommendations from the

Benghazi Accountability Review Board and have taken a hard look

at adopting best practices from across the spectrum of missions.

In 2012, we created a HighThreat Programs directorate to manage

our high-risk posts, ensuring our most dangerous posts receive

the focused attention they need. Our recently adopted deliberate

planning process (DPP) codifies the way we prepare for our mis-

sions, such as providing security for the U.S. delegation to the 2015

Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi, an event that took

place at a high-threat, high-risk post 250 miles from the Somalian

border. Supporting this presidential-level summit was the most

comprehensive overseas deployment DS had ever undertaken,

and was necessary to advance U.S. foreign policy goals.

The Vital Presence Validation Process (known as VP2), insti-

tuted in 2014, involves a full-scope examination of a high-threat,

high-risk post. In this process the compelling national security

and policy reasons for a U.S. government presence, the threats

to post personnel and facilities, and the measures being taken to

mitigate the risk are all spelled out; and an assessment is made

as to whether the remaining risk is acceptable. VP2 and other

mechanisms constitute “shared accountability” among DS, the

regional bureaus and other interagency stakeholders in the risk

management process.

But the issue of protecting American diplomacy is much

broader than DS, broader than the State Department and even

broader than the U.S. government. After 15 years of almost con-

stant warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, our Department of State

budgets are mostly flat and our Defense Department also faces

budget constraints and deep readiness issues, even as the threats

and security risks continue to evolve. At the same time, as I noted

earlier, the United States has been an indispensable nation. Our

presence is increasingly important at a growing number of high-

threat posts around the world.

DS is the most widely represented U.S. law enforcement and

security organization overseas, with more than 2,000 special

agents, 220 engineers, 160 security technicians, 100 diplomatic

couriers and thousands of domestic and foreign national sup-

port personnel. As the law enforcement and security arm of the

Department of State, we bear the responsibility of protecting the

men and women of the Foreign Service and other chief-of-mis-

sion personnel and their families. However, at our overseas posts,

risk is not just the business of Diplomatic Security; it is a shared

responsibility for all.

Therefore, we in DS are working to help the entire Foreign

Service evolve into a force in which all diplomats, as well as

their family members, are trained in hard security skills essen-

tial to operate in today’s world. This transformation in security

consciousness includes breaking ground and building, by 2019,

a $400-million State Department training center, the Foreign

Affairs Security Training Center, at Fort Pickett, Virginia, about 35

miles southwest of Richmond. FASTC will consolidate training

now conducted at 11 different sites and focuses not only on hard-

skills preparation for our most dangerous locations, but also on

basic skills for all diplomats in the event danger strikes anywhere

in the world—be it Baghdad, Bamako, Beijing, Berlin, Boston or

Brussels.

However, as Diplomatic Security continues to be tasked with

newmissions and new requirements, the State Department is

rapidly reaching the point where we can no longer do more with

less. Leadership within the department, within Congress and

across the executive branch increasingly—and rightly—demands

more from our diplomats, including protecting them as they

engage in a dangerous world on behalf of the American people.

This requires a delicate but necessary balance between resources

to conduct foreign policy and resources to provide a safe and

secure environment for the conduct of that foreign policy.

Diplomatic Security is undertaking in-depth discussions

and making hard decisions on how best to support our nation’s

necessary engagement in an unstable world. But these discus-

sions need to expand beyond DS. We, as a nation, have to make

challenging, tough decisions. With a finite level of resources, we

It is essential that we give

our people the resources,

preparation and backing to

handle the crises of tomorrow

and the years ahead.