Monday, February 9, 2009

Good Solution to the Blackwater Problem

Posted on USAJobs today: the U.S. State Department is hiring Foreign Service Security Protective Specialists on five-year contracts to handle the high-threat personal protection jobs that have been performed mostly by contractors up to this point.

Here's the job summary:

The Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS), is seeking highly qualified and motivated men and women with extensive experience in protective security operations to serve as Foreign Service Security Protective Specialists at certain U.S. Embassies, Consulates and regional offices abroad. This workforce will be deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel, and possibly other Foreign Service posts, to supplement DS Special agents in the supervision of contractor personnel. The specific number to be hired will depend on the needs of the Foreign Service.

As members of a diplomatic team, Security Protective Specialists (SPS) not only help to accomplish the mission of the Department of State but also represent the United States to the people of other nations.

DS will create SPS positions initially at the following locations: Embassy Baghdad; Iraq Regional Embassy Offices Erbil, Al Hillah, Tallil and Basra; Embassy Kabul and Consulate General Jerusalem.

SPSs will work in tandem with DS Special Agents (SA) to ensure that a DS supervisor is always present and involved with every protective motorcade element. The SPS or SA may act as the Detail Leader and may supervise other DS or contractor personnel.

Appointment as a Security Protective Specialist will be in the Limited Non-Career Appointment category. This category is based upon an annually renewable appointment with a 5-year maximum. Extensions beyond five years are not permitted. At the conclusion of the appointment, SPSs may apply for any Department position for which they are qualified, to include the Special Agent position. Federal retirement benefits accrue during time spent as a DS Security Protective Specialist.

All assignments will be at the needs of the service. After the initial tour, SPSs may be transferred to other high threat posts overseas for two consecutive 2-year tours of duty. There is no provision for election of post of assignment.

A limited, non-career appointment to the Foreign Service involves uncommon commitments and occasional hardships along with unique rewards and opportunities. A decision to accept such an appointment must involve unusual motivation and a firm dedication to public service. The overseas posts to which SPSs will be assigned may expose the employee to harsh climates, health hazards, and other discomforts and where American-style amenities may be unavailable. Assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel are particularly challenging and may result in bodily injury and death. However, a limited appointment to the Foreign Service offers special rewards, including the pride and satisfaction of representing the United States and protecting U. S. interests at home and abroad.

As Personal Service Contractors, the protection specialists will be direct government employees and therefore much easier to manage and discipline than private contractors. The need for lots of protection specialists at high-threat diplomatic posts might go away someday, but not someday soon, so I think State is doing the right thing by bringing the knuckle draggers (and I use that term with affectionate regard) in-house in order to get them under better control. State can still bring on more private contractors as necessary for short-term surges.

I suspect this will be an attractive opportunity for many private contractors, especially those who are younger and want to turn the PSC job into a full time gig later on with accrual of retirement benefits for time spent as a PSC.


The Hegemonist said...

Great post. I think the inclusion of Israel along with Iraq and Afghanistan is very interesting. I linked to you at

TSB said...


The inclusion of Israel is due to the need to protect USG staff traveling in the West Bank and Gaza. Protection contractors have been used there for more than 6 years; three of them were killed in 2003 while escorting a PD officer into Gaza to interview a Fulbright Scholarship candidate.