The State Department this week posted a notice that applications are being accepted for Foreign Service Security Protective Specialist positions in the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security to provide a "variety of personal protective services to Department officials and employees at overseas locations." While the announcement says there are a "limited number" of positions to fill, elsewhere there are indications that the number may actually be considerable. The lines referencing "duty locations" where selected personnel may be assigned uses all uppercase letters for "MANY," as if for emphasis on the number of current vacancies:
When asked about the way the announcement is phrased, a State Department spokesperson said that this particular wording is used "routinely" in recruitment ads for other positions as well. A subsequent search turned up 18 such uses on the site. The spokesperson also noted that the State Department "maintain[s] a registry to fill positions" as current personnel hit the five year limit on these types of jobs.
While the announcement indicates the vacancies are "throughout the world," Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are used as "examples," and not just once. The three countries are each mentioned seven times in the jobs notice with particular emphasis on the danger of those posts, noting at one point: "Assignments to Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, are particularly challenging and may result in bodily injury and/or death."
Only applicants aged 21 to 36 at the time of appointment are eligible, with some exceptions for veterans. They must be in good physical shape and able to complete "gender and age-specific repetitions of push-ups and sit-ups" and a timed 1.5 mile run. There are written and oral tests, as well as background checks. Those who successfully complete 22 weeks of training and orientation generally receive an 18-month appointment, renewable up to a maximum of five years. The positions start around $45,000 per year plus benefits, and the salary can be augmented by "Danger Pay & Post Differential," with some locations in Afghanistan and Pakistan meriting up to 35% more.
A Security Protective Specialist may function as a body guard, security guard, driver, advance team member, emergency responder, and security analyst. Applicants are warned they may be subject to "harsh climates, health hazards, and other discomforts and where American-style amenities may be unavailable." The notice makes no effort to downplay the serious situations and rough conditions those selected may be called on to face:
Security Protective Specialists are required to perform protective security assignments with physical demands that may include, but are not limited to, intermittent and prolonged periods of running, walking, standing, sitting, squatting, kneeling, climbing stairs, quickly entering and exiting various vehicles, enduring inclement weather which may include excessive heat, as well as carrying and using firearms.
Security Protective Specialists perform other functions that may require jumping, dodging, lying prone, as well as wrestling, restraining and subduing attackers, or detainees. SPSs must be able, if necessary, to conduct security inspections that may require crawling under vehicles and other low clearances or in tight spaces such as attics and crawl spaces.
Sometimes it may be necessary for a SPS to assist with installing or maintaining security countermeasures, which might involve lifting heavy objects and working on ladders or rooftops. SPSs must be skilled at driving and maneuvering a motor vehicle defensively or evasively in a variety of situations and at various speeds.
However, applicants are told this type of assignment "offers special rewards, including the pride and satisfaction of representing the United States and protecting U. S. interests at home and abroad."