The State Department report said the Benghzai attack by Islamic militants highlighted the growing danger such a posture presents.
“The Benghazi attacks took place against a backdrop of significantly increased demands on US diplomats to be present in the world’s most dangerous places to advance American interests and connect with populations beyond capitals, and beyond host governments’ reach,” the report said.
That has placed them in much greater danger from what the authors called a “growing, diffuse range of terrorist and hostile actors.” The report said this “poses an additional challenge to American security officers, diplomats, development professionals, and decision-makers seeking to mitigate risk and remain active in high-threat environments without resorting to an unacceptable total fortress and stay-at-home approach to US diplomacy.”
The need to strike that balance has been raised before, including in an internal State Department review in 2010.
“It seems they never found that balance,” said Kralev, who believes the Benghazi attack also highlights the need for better training across the Foreign Service, where he said personnel are often “thrown into the deep end and told to learn how to swim.”
Kerry, who as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee has traveled to many of the same regions, has also expressed concerns about the security of such outposts.
In February 2011 his committee released a report warning that diplomats could be in danger if more was not done to protect them.
“With so much uncertainty, we’ve got to make sure we strike the proper balance between the scope of the mission and the available resources,” Kerry said at the time.