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MARCH 2017


and cybersecurity, as well as cyber


As DS meets the evolving

security needs of the Depart-

ment of State, the challenge of

finding and vetting high-cali-

ber personnel also increases.

Each year, DS investigators

conduct more than 30,000

background security clear-

ance investigations for U.S.

government employees.

In addition to state-of-the-

art training for our own DS

personnel to be leaders in their

fields, every year we also train

thousands of other members of

the U.S. Foreign Service. As we have

learned over past decades, and continue

to learn, security is not just the responsibil-

ity of a few elite special agents. Soon every mem-

ber of the Foreign Service heading overseas will receive

some level of DS training. Recent attacks in the United States

and Europe drive home the fact that even locations traditionally

thought “safe” carry an inherent level of risk in the modern world

of globally connected extremist groups.

Not that many years ago, being a DSS special agent meant

wearing a suit and earpiece while discreetly carrying a weapon.

But times and threats change.

Today DSS operates on tacti-

cal, operational and strategic

levels that were unimaginable a

generation ago.

Tactically, we’re located

at U.S. embassies and mis-

sions around the world; in our

domestic field offices, resident

offices and headquarters;

and as liaisons across federal

agencies. Operationally, we

have a presence within FBI field offices, joint counterterrorism

task forces, the National Counterterrorism Center, Department

of Defense geographic combatant command headquarters, the

The Department of State’s first chief special

agent, Joseph “Bill” Nye, served from 1917 to

1920. Photo: Library of Congress

their lives to provide a secure environment for

the conduct of American diplomacy.

We’ve been using the phrase “a tradi-

tion of vigilance” to mark our centen-

nial. Vigilance means more than

just keeping our eyes open. Ide-

ally, we are not just watchful or

simply observant. We have to be

ready to take action, often in

dangerous or fast-evolving sit-

uations that directly threaten

the safety of Americans. As

the people who represent our

nation conduct their essential

work throughout the world, we

know that danger could strike

at any time. We expect it. We

prepare for it. We plan for it and

equip ourselves for it.

Meeting Evolving Needs

Over the past decade and a half,

DSS has protected American diplomacy in

increasingly challenging environments. We have

supported frontline diplomacy in Iraq and Afghanistan,

responded to the upheavals of the Arab Spring, coordinated

multiple evacuations, and experienced scores of attacks on our

embassies and missions—far too many of them deadly. Since the

9/11 terror attacks, there have been more than 290 significant

attacks against U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel. In that

time, more than 90 security professionals—Americans and our

foreign partners—have lost

their lives protecting American


Every U.S. diplomatic

mission in the world oper-

ates under a security program

designed and maintained

by the Diplomatic Security

Service. DS personnel protect

the Secretary of State wher-

ever he or she may be, as

well as foreign ministers and

other high-ranking dignitaries visiting the United States. We also

protect American athletes at international sporting events. We

investigate passport and visa fraud and monitor insider threats

We are members of the

Foreign Service, and we take

seriously the fact that we

live and work with those we

enable and protect.