THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
only for those going to danger posts. With threats rolling in
across the globe, even in places that used to be considered safe,
the training has become a necessary addition to the DS toolkit.
RSO Dinoia says the training helps prepare people for the
wide variety of roles they’ll play throughout their career: “We
are specialists, but we need to break that down further than
just ‘DS vs. FSO.’ We specialize for short periods of time for a
particular assignment, but we have the ability to switch to a
different challenge at the next place. What you do in Baghdad
or Kabul will be different from what you do in other places. That
core training prepares you.” Batman agrees, explaining that a
new agent, first posted to Baghdad, might think it’s okay to show
up next in Europe and head to the country teammeeting with a
gun strapped to his belt. He or she has to be taught that different
posts require different roles.
Of course, before you can take the ATLAS course, you have to
be hired—and it’s become harder than ever to make it through
the selection process. One senior DS agent says the bureau is
actively recruiting a more diverse group of people than in past
years; and while the organization may be moving in a more
militarized direction, it isn’t necessarily seeking former mili-
tary personnel to fill the ranks. The current group of DS seniors
is almost entirely made up of white men, he says, but that’s
because “when these folks came on, that’s almost exclusively
who applied.” In the next few years, he says, you’ll see the results
A DSS security engineering officer (left) assigned to the Office of Security Technology inspects a temporary antenna used to relay
security video feeds near the United Nations headquarters in New York in September 2016. Looking on are a mobile video system
program manager (center, in red jacket) and another DSS security engineering officer (right).
Some people express concern
that the paramilitary aspect of
DS may become predominant.