State Department says it's implementing security recommendations

May 20, 2013 at 8:43 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 20 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department Monday laid out a series of actions being taken to help protect diplomatic outposts following the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya.

The actions, taken in response to the 29 recommendations issued by the independent Benghazi Accountability Review Board, "will require fundamentally reforming the organization in critical ways, the State Department said in a release.

"While risk can never be completely eliminated from our diplomatic duties, we must always work to minimize it," the department said.

Among the steps taken include setting up a High Threat Board that will review high-risk posts every six months and the creation of a deputy assistant secretary position for high threat posts within the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

The department also established a panel to review its organization and management structure.

Another panel of outside independent experts created to identify best practices used by other agencies and countries is to have its work done by this summer.

The department said all of its facilities should be "collocated" with those of other government agencies' facilities "when they are in the same metropolitan area, unless a waiver has been approved."

The department issued guidance to all posts on "weapons of opportunity," and fire testing is taking place at U.S. military facilities.

The department said the president's budget for fiscal 2014 includes a request for $2.2 billion for embassy security, construction and maintenance.

The department is working with the Defense Department and Congress to increase the number of Marine security guards at U.S. diplomatic facilities and is creating 151 new diplomatic security positions.

The department said it is "ramping up the language capacity of its American employees, including Diplomatic Security agents, especially in Arabic."

The department has moved to improve high-threat training for its special agents, as well as ensuring facilities have adequate fire safety and security equipment for safe havens, and is upgrading its surveillance cameras at high-risk facilities.

The department said it is working with Congress to increase accountability for security incidents.

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