Considering the current status of events in the Middle East I believe that the threat level to U.S. Embassies to be moderate to low. Embassies are fairly hard targets these days, considering the steps which have been taken to increase their security since the last major attack on a U.S. Diplomatic establishment. The last such attack was in Benghazi in 2012. It led to the deaths of four American citizens, including the ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and U.S Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith, CIA contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty and the wounding of 10 others.

U.S. Embassies have what we call in the security industry a layered defense system.

  1. Local authorities protect the perimeter
  2. Internal Security is the job of the Marine Security Guard
  3. Regional Security Officer (RSO)
    1. In some cases Assistant RSO
  4. Special Program for Embassy Augmented Response (SPEAR)


The first line of defense are members of the local police that protect the outer perimeter of the Embassy Compound. Depending on the location of the Compound they also might be responsible for inspecting vehicles for potential bombs. Each Embassy is given a contingent of Marines whose responsibility is the physical security of the Compound. The RSOs are special agents, in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, charged with the coordination of security and law enforcement activities in the host country for all U.S. government agencies. SPEAR teams are local law enforcement teams specially trained in responding to emergencies at U.S. Diplomatic facilities. DSS Mobile Security Deployments include specially trained DSS agents who form special operation units used to augment security in emergency operations.