U.S. Diplomatic Security Unit Said to Lack the Authority and Staffing to Be Effective

Saturday, October 11, 2014
(AP photo)

After the 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the State Department established a directorate to focus on the security of U.S. missions abroad. Now, a report (pdf) from State’s Inspector General (IG) has found that the High Threat Programs division doesn’t have the tools it needs to protect diplomats.


Several units of the directorate were found to be understaffed. The operations planning unit and the group of security protective specialists were each found to have critical unfilled positions.


In addition, the directorate doesn’t have the authority to force other bureaus to do what it says; instead, High Threat Programs makes recommendations to others within the State Department.


The division’s responsibilities are divided into three units: Iraq/Afghanistan; African Affairs; and Near East and South Central Asia. Within these areas are 30 U.S. missions (out of 220 in the regions) deemed at risk for the kind of attack that took the lives of four people at the consulate in Benghazi, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.


The program has had its successes. It has “helped create a culture of shared responsibility for security within the department and has forged strong partnerships with regional security officers,” according to the report.


The State Department is working to implement the report’s recommendations, according to The Washington Post. “This is a timely snapshot of the progress being made, and we welcome and agree with the IG’s further recommendations for diplomatic security,” said department spokesman Alec Gerlach.


Other recommendations of the report included training and documentation requirements.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Report: U.S. Diplomatic Security Directorate Is Short-Staffed and Lacking Authority (by Josh Hicks, Washington Post)

Inspection of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, High Threat Programs Directorate (pdf)

Government Report Faults State Dept. for Poor Security in Benghazi; At Least Three Senior Officials Lose Jobs (by Danny Biederman and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


Leave a comment