“Protecting diplomacy” is the unmistakable, indelible, solemn mission of the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). No other U.S. federal law enforcement agency is responsible for a larger swath of security operations across the globe. However, even with a DSS presence at 275 U.S. diplomatic posts in more than 170 countries, the regional security officers, the senior DSS special agents who serve as an ambassador’s principal U.S. law enforcement and security advisor, and their assigned cadre depend on partnerships with host nation emergency response, police, and security forces to keep U.S. diplomats, their families, and local employees safe.
From Dec. 5-9, 2022, members of the U.S. Embassy Dushanbe regional security office and Virginia National Guard soldiers with expertise in chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear defense operations partnered with host nation participants from Tajikistan’s Committee for Emergency Situations and Civil Defense (CoES) to exercise the CoES’s response to various events involving simulated weapons of mass destruction. “The primary objective of this exercise was for our partners to familiarize themselves with our procedures before an incident occurs, so they have some knowledge of our plans when they show up to assist in an actual situation,” said Regional Security Officer Jason Pfistner.
The Virginia soldiers’ participation in the training occurred within the framework of the Department of Defense’s State Partnership Program. The SPP is administered by the National Guard Bureau and includes 87 partnerships with 95 countries in support of foreign policy and security cooperation goals, according to the National Guard’s official website. Tajikistan and the Virginia National Guard have been linked through the SPP since 2003, which has helped to enhance cultural, personal, and operational familiarity between the partner nations.
The capstone event of the exercise involved the CoES negotiating three scenarios, each more challenging than the last, while the regional security office and Virginia National Guard personnel coached the host nation participants and captured lessons learned.
“The training exercise was a great opportunity for our host-nation partners to understand the role and function of our first responders. During the exercise, there was an amazing display of camaraderie and openness among the participants to listen and learn from one another,” said Pfistner.
Going forward, the CoES Explosive Ordinance Disposal technicians are scheduled to participate in the DSS Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program course, “Explosive Incident Countermeasures with Advanced Robotics,” at the ATA’s regional training center in Amman, Jordan, in 2023 where they will learn to identify and neutralize explosive threats they may face in the line of duty. The DSS ATA program provides U.S. Government antiterrorism training and equipment to law enforcement agencies of partner nations throughout the world. Since its creation in 1983, ATA has delivered counterterrorism training to more than 160,000 law enforcement officials and first responders from more than 150 countries.