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Jacobs, Kinzinger Introduce Legislation to Encourage Expeditionary Diplomacy and Reform State Department Approaches

Diplomatic Support and Security Act will encourage diplomats to interact directly with local civil society

Washington, November 18, 2021 | Will McDonald (12028454864)

Washington, D.C. - Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (D-CA-53) and Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL-16) have introduced bipartisan legislation to encourage expeditionary diplomacy and correct risk aversion at the State Department. The legislation is designed to create a new approach at the State Department that prepares, encourages, and allows foreign service officers to leave embassy compounds and engage in expeditionary work. 

Congresswoman Jacobs’ Diplomatic Support and Security Act (bill text here) reforms the State Department’s Accountability Review Boards process to focus more on risk management and systems failures rather than finding someone at fault, as well as increase transparency and reporting to Congress. The bill also requires a State Department strategy for additional training on risk management practices, creates an Expeditionary Diplomacy Award, and amends promotion requirements for State Department employees that include effective risk management practices and meaningful engagement with civil society.

Congresswoman Jacobs is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and worked at the State Department in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations before being elected to Congress. Congresswoman Jacobs’ legislation was introduced Wednesday with Congressman Kinzinger as co-lead.

The American Academy of Diplomacy and American Foreign Service Association have endorsed the legislation.

“Diplomacy doesn’t work behind wire or walls. I’m proud to introduce the Diplomatic Support and Security Act with Congressman Kinzinger because we can’t rebuild our world class diplomatic corps without ensuring our diplomats are actually able to go out and do their jobs. Leaving embassy compounds and capital cities will allow foreign service officers to be proactive and to do more preventative work, engage with a more diverse range of local members of civil society, and provide better information to colleagues and policy makers. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate on this issue and taking the first steps to correcting years of politicization regarding diplomatic security and procedure,” said Congresswoman Sara Jacobs.

“American diplomats are second to none. Yet, these men and women are often confined to our embassies abroad due to bureaucratic red tape which stifles their abilities to connect with local communities. The Diplomatic Support and Security Act will help empower our foreign service officers to step outside the wire and promote our core values”, said Congressman Adam Kinzinger. “In an era where authoritarianism is being globally pushed by Russia and China, the United States needs to actively combat these malign forces—something we cannot do effectively from the safety of our embassy walls. I want to thank Congresswoman Jacobs for her work on this legislation, and I look forward to working with our Senate colleagues to find a way forward.”

"This legislation is highly important to the successful conduct of American diplomacy.  It advances recommendations made by senior former diplomats, flag rank officers, and previous USAID mission directors and strongly endorsed by the American Academy of Diplomacy" said Ambassador (ret.) Ronald E. Neumann, President American Academy of Diplomacy.

“Successful diplomacy and development require direct engagement from members of the Foreign Service. The Diplomatic Support and Security Act promotes an approach to risk management that empowers and incentivizes our teams in the field to find the right approach to advance American interests securely, given local conditions,” Ambassador (ret.) Eric Rubin, President, American Foreign Service Association.