THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
The rapid growth in size and responsibilities at DS has brought challenges in terms
of policy, personnel and training. Here is an inside look at some of the issues.
Donna Scaramastra Gorman is a freelance writer whose
work has appeared in
Time Magazine, Newsweek, The
Christian Science Monitor
The spouse of a DS agent, she has lived in Amman, Mos-
cow, Yerevan, Almaty, Beijing and, currently, Washington, D.C.
e’re at a cross-
ward as if to
urgency of the
task at hand.
Security is changing culturally. Are we paramilitary? Are we law
As the principal deputy assistant secretary for the State
Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security and director of the
Diplomatic Security Service (who stepped in as acting assis-
tant secretary for DS on Jan. 20), Miller leads an organization
that is constantly adapting to keep pace with—and whenever
possible, stay ahead of—events around the globe. A 30-year
veteran of DS, Miller not only leads 2,100 special agents, but
also engineers, investigators, technical specialists and civil
servants. The largest bureau in the State Department, DS has
become more influential and, in many cases, indispensable, as
diplomats engage in an increasingly uncertain world.
“The complexities of our job are exponentially greater now
than when I started,” Miller explains. So are the expectations.
Over the past three decades, DS has grown in terms of size and
budget, developing along the way into a premier global secu-
rity force with a complex and evolving mission.
Such rapid growth brings challenges in terms of policy,
personnel and training. And while it’s difficult to find consen-
sus within DS on how best to solve these issues, all agree on
the basic mission: to continue to move confidently in conven-
tional diplomatic circles while preparing agents to succeed
in the smoke and haze that follows a terrorist attack, political
coup or natural disaster anywhere in the world.
A Global Outlook
“I helped evacuate American citizens from our embassy in
Beijing after protests were forcibly put down in Tiananmen
Square in 1989,” says Kurt Rice, the deputy assistant secre-
tary (DAS) for threat, investigations and analysis. Back then,
if a place got too dangerous, “we simply closed the post and
pulled everyone out,” he says. “But that way of working funda-
mentally changed after 9/11.” Today DS has to safeguard diplo-
matic efforts in such posts. This has caused tension between
DS agents, with their perceived desire to shut operations down
in dangerous places, and Foreign Service officers who need to
go out into a dangerous world to get their work done.
“It’s easy to protect everyone if you always say no to every-
thing,” says Rice, but he insists DS doesn’t say no as often as
people think. DS is sometimes “painted as the folks who say
BY DONNA SCARAMASTRA GORMAN