USA Diplomatic Security Service DSS

The U.S. Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) is the federal law enforcement arm of the United States Department of State. The majority of its Special Agents are members of the Foreign Service and federal law enforcement agents at the same time, making them unique. The Bureau of Diplomatic Security, more commonly known as Diplomatic Security, or DS, is the parent organization of the Diplomatic Security Service. Both terms, DSS or DS, are used interchangeably outside the State Department to refer to the DSS. The DSS is structured as a federal law enforcement agency, primarily made up of U.S. Federal Agents mandated to serve overseas and domestically. DSS is the most widely represented U.S. law enforcement agency world wide. As federal agents, all DSS Special Agents have the power to arrest, carry firearms, and serve arrest warrants and other court processes. DSS Special Agents protect the U.S. Secretary of State and foreign dignitaries. The State Department's web site says that "The Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) is the security and law enforcement arm of the U.S. Department of State. DS is a world leader in international investigations, threat analysis, cyber security, counterterrorism, security technology, and protection of people, property, and information.".[1]

When assigned to domestic field offices, DSS Special Agents are responsible for conducting investigations into passport and visa fraud as well as providing protection for the United States Secretary of State and others. Overseas, DSS Special Agents are called Regional Security Officers (RSOs), and are charged with the security and law enforcement duties at U.S. missions, embassies, and consular posts.

There are approximately 1,800 DS Special Agents. Special Agents are sometimes referred to as "DS Agents" or "DSS Agents". Both terms are used interchangeably within the agency and other organizations.

Unlike all other civilian federal law enforcement officers, DSS agents must serve multiple-year tours overseas as a condition of employment. When not at an overseas assignment, they serve domestically, in field offices and HQ positions. A minority of DSS agents are members of the State Department's civil service (GS-1811) and do not serve tours overseas; they focus on criminal work and dignitary protection within the United States. DSS agents are hired after an intensive evaluation process that includes a Foreign Service Board of Examiners writing evaluation, knowledge-based test, panel interview and situational judgment exercises carried out by veteran DSS agents. Those selected undergo a comprehensive medical examination needed for worldwide availability, as well as an exhaustive background investigation for security clearance at the level of top secret/sensitive compartmentalized information (TS/SCI). A final suitability review and vote by a Foreign Service panel evaluates a candidate's overall ability to represent the interests of the United States as a diplomat abroad. All agents have at least a four year university degree. Agent candidates must be under the age of 37 at the time of commissioning. However, due to the decision in Robert P. Isabella v. Department of State and Office of Personnel Management, 2008 M.S.P.B. 146, preference eligible veterans may apply after age 37. In 2009, the Office of Personnel Management issued implementation guidance on the Isabella decision: OPM Letter. After a new agent candidate is hired, he or she begins a six month training program that includes the Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP) at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) (pronounced flet-see) in Glynco, Georgia; a Basic Special Agent Course at the Diplomatic Security Training Center, and courses at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) in Arlington, Virginia. A new training facility that will consolidate DSS' far-flung training venues is currently under development. A new agent is usually assigned to a domestic field office for two years before taking on an overseas assignment, although an agent can expect to be sent on frequent temporary duty assignments overseas even when assigned to a domestic post. However, agents may be called overseas much earlier depending on the needs of DSS. As members of the Foreign Service, agents are expected to spend most of their career living and working overseas, often in hazardous environments or less developed countries throughout the world.

* Basic Special Agent Course (BSAC) (including FLETC): 7 months
* Basic Regional Security Office Course (RSO School): 3 months
* High Threat Tactical Training (HTT): 2 months
* Language Training: 2–12 months per language


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