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How the US Prepares Its Embassies for Doable Assaults


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How the US Prepares Its Embassies for Doable Assaults

Tuesday’s attack by Iran-backed Shiite militia supporters on the US Embassy in Baghdad, followed by Friday’s US killing of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, sparked fears of an intense escalation of hostilities in the region.Analysts say US embassies and consulates are prime targets in the wake of these events, and personnel could be in jeopardy.…

How the US Prepares Its Embassies for Doable Assaults

Tuesday’s attack by Iran-backed Shiite militia supporters on the US Embassy in Baghdad, followed by Friday’s US killing of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, sparked fears of an intense escalation of hostilities within the placement.

Analysts dispute US embassies and consulates are high targets within the wake of these events, and personnel will doubtless be in jeopardy. “Iran isn’t going to let this plod unanswered,” notes security analyst Brett Bruen, a feeble US diplomat. “They are going to behold to attack American senior officers and personnel in a diagram they never delight in forward of.” Embassies will enhance security, but “personnel will serene be inclined when out intriguing round in-country.”

How to guard those folks and services and products? Mighty will count largely on what the Enlighten Division and its laws enforcement division, the Diplomatic Security Provider, learns from Tuesday’s incident. The DSS works with the US Marine Corps and native security forces in host countries to make custom security plans for every embassy and consulate. It folds its classes into the coaching curriculum equipped for its 2,100 armed, federally sworn special agents at its novel International Affairs Security Coaching Center, which we visited appropriate forward of its opening in November in Blackstone, Virginia. It additionally conducts drills at every embassy—one among which I seen within the midst of a talk over with to the US embassy in Dakar, Senegal, in 2018. The embassy ran a simulation of a mumble and attack that looked such as the one in Baghdad on Tuesday.

Assaults on US diplomatic services and products are no longer novel. Past assaults on US embassies and consulates in Tehran in 1979, Nairobi in 1998, and Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 led to massive changes in embassy set aside, security programs, and coaching protocols for the special agents charged with retaining US diplomatic presences in one other country. The Nairobi bombing, as an illustration, prompted the US to transfer embassies to better tracts of land with foremost issue between perimeter fences and the constructions themselves. Bomb-proof windows and automobile barricades are now de rigueur at US services and products in every single issue.


  • Part of the simulated city at the State Department training center in Virginia. The building in the rear behind the...

  • Officials in Dakar Senegal debrief following a simulated assault on the US embassy there during a training exercise in...

  • Senegalese security personnel on the grounds of the US embassy in Dakar during the training exercise.nbsp

Photograph: Eric Adams

Section of the simulated metropolis on the Enlighten Division coaching heart in Virginia. The constructing within the rear within the abet of the keeping wall is a simulated US embassy.


The DSS deploys its special agents to practically 300 embassies and consulates globally, as neatly as to services and products within the US. (It has 45,000 additional personnel.) They stable the physical constructions but additionally put together for threats away from those compounds, in conjunction with making sure personnel delight in stable stable rooms, directions on answer to threats, and continual communication to security teams. In Baghdad this week, the DSS’s senior regional security officer is responsible of the embassy’s response to the attack, in session with senior Enlighten Division officers. They are going to resolve the embassy’s response but additionally its classic “posture” within the country—the visibility of its changes, any changes to public engagement, or novel security protocols. Individually, the Enlighten Division Friday urged US electorate in Iraq to leave precise away—though it didn’t observe to embassy personnel.

In the intervening time, security officers at embassies in varied excessive-threat countries will doubtless be staring at carefully, and sure implementing changes of their very bear to bolster security within the wake of this week’s events. Given that the embassy in Baghdad is amongst the most animated and most costly within the area, the usage of issue of the art protection technologies, the success of Tuesday’s attack is being concerned. The Enlighten Division hasn’t indicated whether or no longer any of its security protocols failed, though it seems to be that Iraqi security forces charged with retaining the compound had been ineffective in opposition to the Shiite forces attempting to storm it. Photos from the embassy squawk foremost structural and fire anguish to the strength’s predominant entryway.

That said, the anguish became contained to the entrance-line reception location, which sits at some level of a compound at a distance from the embassy constructing itself. That constructing wasn’t breached, and the protesters had been sooner or later dispersed with hurry gas. Diplomats inside of the embassy stayed in stable rooms, and Secretary of Enlighten Mike Pompeo said in a subsequent interview with CBS that the embassy never regarded as evacuating personnel.

Security presences fluctuate from embassy to embassy. They’re guarded by Marine Security Guard contingents; the scale of the force varies by country and is no longer publicly disclosed. Total security is overseen by the regional security officers, who thunder ambassadors and senior officers and back attain the coaching workout routines, such because the one I seen in Dakar.

There, feature-playing actors performing as protestors bother fire to tires—simulated with colored smoke grenades—in entrance of the principle guard location while chanting anti-US slogans and waving banners. Others scaled the excessive fence and made it into the compound. Security personnel tracked, pursued, and captured the infiltrators forward of they would possibly possibly possibly breach the embassy constructing itself. Within that constructing, the Marine guards alerted embassy workers to transfer for predetermined stable rooms, while armed Marines took positions on the rooftop for additional toughen.

Throughout such events, security teams resolve whether or no longer to name for backup. This would possibly possibly possibly advance within the form of DSS special operations units called Mobile Security Deployments, equally capable Marine Security Augmentation Gadgets, or so-called SPEAR teams, for Particular Program for Embassy Augmentation Response. These encompass native laws enforcement teams which would possibly possibly possibly be given additional coaching for responding to emergencies at US diplomatic services and products, the Enlighten Division says. On Friday, the department couldn’t verify which, if any, of these supplemental forces had been called into motion within the midst of the attack Tuesday, nor would it dispute if any augmentation forces were deployed to varied embassies within the wake of the week’s events.

After the coaching simulation I seen in Dakar in 2018, team leaders gathered to analyze the outcomes and build in mind improvements. The consequences of the diagnosis had been no longer launched. After events appreciate the Baghdad assault, scrutiny is intensified and the Enlighten Division begins the cycle of improvements to its ways and coaching, now taking issue on the center in Virginia.

There, DSS officers protest agents and varied personnel about managing all the pieces from convoys to terrorist assaults, particularly in a simulated metropolis. The stout-scale metropolis, complete with its bear embassy compound, stands in for urban services and products of all kinds globally. This week, it doubtless seems an awful lot appreciate Baghdad.


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