12 FAM 020

BUREAU leadership and MANAGEMENT

(CT:DS-290;   03-06-2018)
(Office of Origin:  DS/MGT/PPD)


(CT:DS-230;   02-11-2015)

Strong, capable leadership is critical to the success of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) mission of providing a safe and secure environment for the conduct of U.S. foreign policy through our protection, criminal, and overseas programs.  As a law enforcement and security organization, we manage programs to protect personnel, facilities, and information, but we must lead our people.  The DS Leadership Tenets establish expectations for all DS employees, regardless of grade or position, in pursuit of service to the Department and the Nation:

(1)  BE COURAGEOUS – Choose the harder right over the easier wrong.  Be brave in the face of adversity and danger, making tough decisions when required.  Offer constructive dissent and welcome the same from others;

(2)  LIVE WITH INTEGRITY – Be consistent in thought, word, and action in your personal life and professional conduct.  Do what is best for the mission, your people, and the organization;

(3)  LEAD BY EXAMPLE – Commit to excellence.  Be a leader others want to follow.  Inspire others and earn their trust by setting the example in all things, including your physical readiness and operational skills;

(4)  DELEGATE AUTHORITY BUT NOT RESPONSIBILITY – Empower others to take ownership of their work.  Coach and clarify when needed.  Hold yourself and others accountable for success and failure;

(5)  LEARN CONSTANTLY – Drive improvement through honest, productive assessments of individual and team performance.  Cultivate innovation and creativity.  Improve your own capabilities, and embrace your role as teacher and mentor to others in the organization;

(6)  BUILD GREAT TEAMS – Focus on the team over the individual.  Recruit the right people, train them to a high standard, and foster a sense of pride in the DS mission.  Value diversity as essential to our organization.  Take care of your people, your family, and yourself; and

(7)  COMMUNICATE – Communicate a vision of how your organization can most effectively contribute to the DS mission.  Clearly define expectations for both individuals and the team.  Encourage feedback.  Respect and engage others across the broad range of our government, private industry, and international partners.


(CT:DS-230;   02-11-2015)

a. The Executive Director (DS/EX) is responsible for the allocation, administration, and accountability of all financial, personnel, and property resources within the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS).

b. Additionally, DS/EX is responsible for the coordination of policy, planning, program evaluation, and executive representation for the Bureau.  See 1 FAM 260 for further information.


(CT:DS-220;   11-03-2014)

a. The DS Special Protective Equipment Review Board is an advisory board to the director of the Diplomatic Security Service (DS/DSS) who is also the DS Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (PDAS).  See 1 FAM 260 for further information.

b. For the U.S. Department of State Deadly Force and Firearms Policy, approved by U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. on November 29, 2011, and promulgated herein, see 12 FAM Exhibit 023.  Additional procedures previously contained in 12 FAM Exhibit 023 have been relocated to 12 FAH-9.

c.  The SPERB charter was approved by the DS PDAS and Director, DS/DSS, in an action memorandum from the SPERB, dated April 03, 2013 (see 12 FAM Exhibit 023(C)).


(CT:DS-230;   02-11-2015)

a. The purpose of the OSPB is to develop, coordinate, and promote uniform policies, standards, and agreements on security operations outside the United States, and programs and projects that affect U.S. Government civilian agencies represented abroad.  See 12 FAH-6 H-014.

b. For the OSPB Charter, see 12 FAH-6 Exhibit H-014.1.


(CT:DS-230;   02-11-2015)

See 1 FAM 260 and 12 FAM 061 for responsibilities of the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC).



12 FAM Exhibit 023  
Department of State Deadly Force And Firearms Policy

(CT:DS-220;   11-03-2014)
(Effective Date:  12-29-2011)


Deadly Force Policy

A special agent of the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) may use deadly force only when necessary, that is, when the special agent has a reasonable belief that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the special agent or to another person.

Deadly force may not be used solely to prevent the escape of a fleeing suspect.

Firearms may not be fired solely to disable moving vehicles, vessels, or other conveyances.

If feasible and if to do so would not increase the danger to the officer or others, a verbal warning to submit to the authority of the special agent shall be given prior to the use of deadly force.

Warning shots are not permitted, except that they may be used by DSS special agents in exercising DSS’s protective responsibilities.

Special agents will be trained in alternative methods and tactics for handling resisting subjects, which must be used when the use of deadly force is not authorized by this policy.


Authority to Carry Firearms

Section 2709 of Title 22, United States Code, authorizes special agents of the U.S. Department of State to carry and use firearms in the performance of their duties, consistent with these regulations.

General Policy

Authorization to Carry Firearms

A DSS special agent stationed in the United States, who is not otherwise in any way legally disqualified from carrying a firearm, is authorized to carry approved firearms on and off duty in accordance with this policy.  A DSS special agent is required to report to DS any condition that he or she has reason to believe disqualifies him or her from lawfully carrying a firearm.

A DSS special agent stationed outside the United States, who is not otherwise in any way legally disqualified from carrying a firearm under the laws of the United States, may carry his or her firearms abroad with written approval by the chief of mission consistent with applicable statutory authority.

Each DSS special agent is responsible for having a complete understanding of his or her authority and its limitations, and of these regulations.

All issues relating to these regulations that require clarification shall be directed to the DS Special Protective Equipment Review Board (SPERB). 

Authorized Firearms and Related Equipment

In General

DSS will authorize special agents to carry handguns, holsters, support weapons (including submachine guns, shotguns, and specialized firearms) and ammunition that the Department of State, through the SPERB, has issued or approved.

Off-duty and Secondary Weapons

While off duty in the United States, a DSS special agent may be authorized to carry his or her service weapon.  This provision does not preclude the off-duty carriage of other firearms, subject to all applicable federal, state, and local laws, in the agent’s capacity as a private citizen or qualified law enforcement officer.

While on duty in the United States, a DSS special agent may be authorized to carry one secondary handgun in addition to his or her service weapon.  The secondary handgun must come from a list of DSS-approved handguns.

The off-duty carriage of a service weapon or on-duty carriage of a secondary handgun is permissible only if the special agent comports with all DSS standards, including required periodic qualification with the weapon.

No secondary handgun is authorized unless there is written documentation on file with DSS fully identifying the weapon and the date when such carriage was first authorized.

A special agent may be authorized to have only one DSS-approved secondary handgun in addition to his or her service weapon. 


In General

To be authorized to carry a DSS-issued firearm or DSS-approved secondary firearm, a DSS special agent shall qualify by meeting or exceeding a specified score on the DS qualification course with his or her DSS-issued or DSS-approved firearm.  This provision does not authorize a DSS special agent to carry a firearm on which he or she has not successfully completed required firearms qualification or familiarization procedures within the past 12 months.


Disclaimer:  This policy is set forth solely for the purpose of internal Department guidance.  It is not intended to, does not, and may not be relied upon to create any rights, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law by any party in any matter, civil or criminal, and does not place any limitations on otherwise lawful activities of the Department.


Rule of construction: Nothing contained in this policy shall be construed to limit or impair the authority or responsibility of any other Federal law enforcement or other agency of the United States with respect to investigative, protective, or intelligence activities.


12 FAM Exhibit 023(C)  
Special Protective Equipment Review Board Charter

(CT:DS-290;   03-06-2018)

1.0   MISSION:

The Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) Special Protective Equipment Review Board (SPERB), previously known as the Firearms and Policy Review Board (FPRB), is an advisory board to the Director of the Diplomatic Security Service (DS/DSS).  The SPERB develops and recommends policies, procedures and tactics, as well as provides guidance to DS Special Agents and others who may be serving in a security or personal protection role at a U.S. mission abroad, on the authorities and use of special protective equipment (SPE).


The Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) within the Department of State was established pursuant to the Omnibus Diplomatic Security and Antiterrorism Act of 1986 (Public Law 99-399; 22 U.S.C. 4801, et seq.).  Title I of the Act defines the security functions and responsibilities of the Secretary of State.  Title II of the Act authorized the creation of the Diplomatic Security Service, which is responsible for managing the bureau’s day-to-day security operations.  The Secretary delegated responsibility to the Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security those functions vested in the Secretary of State by sections 103(a)(2) (22 U.S.C. 4802(a)(2)). The Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security advises the Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security on the formulation and implementation of security programs and policies for the Department and the foreign affairs community and serves as the Director of the Diplomatic Security Service (1 FAM 262 a. (1) and (2)).


3.1  The responsibility of the SPERB is to assist the Director, DS/DSS, in formulation and dissemination of DS policy as it relates to all aspects of DS SPE.  This includes, but is not limited to, use of force policy, firearms, less-than-lethal devices, restraining devices, protective equipment, electronic countermeasures, evaluation and application of emerging technologies, and the issuance of such ancillary equipment and items issued to, and/or controlled by DS direct-hire, DS contract personnel, U.S. mission guards and bodyguards under commercial contract or personal services agreement (PSA), and the United States Marine Corps (USMC) Marine Security Embassy Security Group (MCESG).  The SPERB addresses all issues related to these subjects, both domestically and abroad, and other tasks as assigned by the Director.

3.2  The SPERB assists the Director by reviewing any request related to the subjects described in section 3.1 above, unless the request has been previously approved in writing by the Director.  The SPERB can request additional information, or recommend the Director approve or deny the request.

3.3  The Executive Secretariat, DS/MGT/PPD, will maintain the meeting minutes, retain copies of all record documents related to the works of the SPERB and clear and promulgate all SPERB policy recommendations and the Director’s final decision.

3.4  The SPERB will, generally, meet monthly to adjudicate issues and/or requests submitted by a Regional Director (RD) in consultation with DS/PSP/DEAV, DS/T/TPS, DS/IP/OPO, DS/SPC/MSG or other offices, as required.  The SPERB can hold special meetings as needed or, for time sensitive actions, members may vote electronically.

3.5  The Chair must preside over the SPERB meetings.  Should the Chair be unavailable, the DS/DSS Director will designate an interim Chair to preside.


4.1  Voting Members:

·         Deputy Assistant Secretary for Training (DS/T) - Chair

·         Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Programs (DS/IP)

·         Deputy Assistant Secretary for High Threat Programs (DS/HTP)

·         Deputy Assistant Secretary for Countermeasures (DS/C)

·         Deputy Assistant Secretary for Domestic Operations (DS/DO)

·         Executive Director for Diplomatic Security (DS/EX)

·         Deputy Assistant Secretary for Threat Investigations and Analysis (DS/TIA)

4.2 Alternate Voting Members:  Each voting member (except the Chair) must designate a primary alternate with authority to cast binding votes.  For continuity, a voting member should designate someone who can serve consistently as their alternate for all future absences.  Voting members may also designate a secondary alternate with authority to cast binding votes if neither the voting member nor the primary alternate can be present at the meeting.  All requests for an alternate must be made in writing to the Chair, with a copy to the Executive Secretariat.  A designated alternate becomes eligible to vote immediately after the Chair approves the designation for the record during an SPERB meeting.  If neither the member nor the alternate is able to attend a meeting, and a secondary alternate has not been officially designated, the voting member may designate a proxy voter from among the voting members.

4.3 Non-Voting Members:

·         Chief, Policy and Planning Division (DS/MGT/PPD) - Executive Secretary

·         Attorney-Advisor (L/M/DS)

·         Director, Office of Security Technology (DS/C/ST)

·         Director, Office of Mobile Security Deployments (DS/T/MSD)

·         Chief, Defensive Equipment and Armored Vehicle Division, (DS/C/PSP/DEAV)

·         Chief, Security and Law Enforcement Training Division, (DS/T/SLTD)

·         Chief, Firearms Training Unit, (DS/SSB/FTU)

·         Chief, Marine Security Guard Branch (DS/SPC/MSG)

4.4  Other members may be added by majority vote of attending board members or at the direction of the Director, DS/DSS.  Non-voting members at their discretion may send alternate subject matter experts to attend on their behalf.  The Executive Secretariat may designate a member of his or her staff to organize the agenda and take the meeting minutes.


5.1  In order to assemble and conduct business, a majority of the voting members must be present.  SPE-related requests and issues must be formally presented to the SPERB for consideration as an agenda item.

5.2  The Chair will motion the SPERB to vote on whether or not to recommend to the Director approval for the SPE–related request.

5.3  Whenever possible, recommendations will be made by consensus.

5.4  When voting members cannot reach a consensus, recommendations will be made by majority vote.

5.5  Recommendations for approval are forwarded to the DS/DSS Director for final approval.

5.6  Requests that the SPERB does not approve may be re-submitted by the requesting entity with additional information or clarification provided; or the request may be forwarded to the DS/DSS Director not recommending approval.

5.7  The SPERB voting members cannot override a decision by the Director, DS/DSS.


The SPERB maintains two working groups (WGs).  The WGs make recommendations to the SPERB on tactics, techniques, policies, and equipment within their area of responsibility or on special projects as directed.  The chair or co-chair of a WG is responsible for presenting the group's findings to the Executive Secretariat prior to meetings for inclusion in the SPERB agenda.

6.1  Firearms, Optics, and Protective Equipment Working Group:

·         Director, Office of Mobile Security Deployments (DS/T/MSD) - Chair

·         Director, Office of Protection (DS/DO/P) - Co-Chair

·         Chief, Defensive Equipment and Armored Vehicles Division (DS/PSP/DEAV)

·         Chief, Security and Law Enforcement Training Division (DS/T/SLTD)

·         Office Director, Office of Regional Directors, High Threat Programs (DS/HTP/RD)

·         Chief, Firearms Training Unit, (DS/SSB/FTU)

·         Policy Analyst (DS/MGT/PPD)

·         Attorney-Adviser (L/M/DS)

·         Additional Subject Matter Experts as needed

6.2  Less-Than-Lethal and Emerging Technologies Working Group:

·         Deputy Assistant Secretary for High Threat Programs (DS/HTP) - Chair

·         Director, Physical Security Programs (DS/C/PSP) - Co-Chair

·         Director, Office of Security Technology (DS/C/ST)

·         Director, Office of Field Office Management (DS/DO/FLD)

·         Chief, Special Skills Training Branch (DS/SLTD/SSB)

·         Chief, Marine Security Guard Branch (DS/SPC/MSG)

·         Chief, MSD Training and Logistics Division (DS/MSD/TAL)

·         Policy Analyst (DS/MGT/PPD)

·         Attorney-Adviser (L/M/DS)

·         Additional Subject Matter Experts as needed.