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The primary responsibility for NEOs lies with the Department of State. The chief of mission (COM) is always the ambassador, if present, and is the ranking US official in the country. He is directly responsible to the President of the United States. In the absence of the ambassador, the deputy chief of mission (DCM) becomes the charge d'affaires. The following paragraphs describe other key embassy officials and their duties.

The administrative officer (AO) is often the third in command in the embassy hierarchy. In a small post with no security officer assigned, the AO assumes the functions of the security officer and has operational control (OPCON) of the Marine security guard (MSG) detachment if assigned. The AO is also responsible for the embassy communications unit.

The general services officer (GSO) has many of the same functions as a J4 or S4. The GSO is normally responsible for all buildings, grounds, construction, vehicles, and maintenance.

The chief of the consular section is responsible for many functions relating to US personnel and is an appropriate point of contact for the J2 or S2 and J3 or S3. Consular officers are, in general, responsible for the welfare of all US citizens visiting and residing in their country and for knowing their whereabouts and maintaining an estimated count.

The chief, security assistance office (SAO) may be the senior military person at the embassy. He maintains liaison with the host nation's military forces. He is authorized by law to perform specific military functions with host country military that are barred to all other embassy staff members.

The defense attaché officer (DATT) is a military person attached to the embassy in diplomatic status representing DOD. He has access to the daily embassy situation report (SITREP) and other written intelligence. Except for the MSG, all military personnel, even those not assigned to the embassy or under direct control of the COM, must coordinate their activities through the DATT.

The chief of station and defense attaché are ideal points of contact for the J2 or S2. They can provide information about HN civil and military capabilities, such as order of battle.

The USIS representative or public affairs officer (PAO) is responsible for media relations and approves all media contacts during a NEO. He is the point of contact for the JTF PAO.

The regional security officer (RSO) is a Department of State security officer responsible for the security functions of US embassies and consulates in a given country or group of adjacent countries. The RSO oversees the post security officer (PSO) and the special security force (SSF).

The PSO has general security duties at a specific embassy (or consulate). The PSO is a special staff officer under the control of the administrative officer and exercises OPCON over the Marine security guards assigned to the station.

The SSF are Department of State employees who respond to crises in foreign countries. They work for the RSO and provide additional bodyguard security for the COM, the DCM, and others as directed by the RSO.

The political officer is a foreign service officer (FSO) who reports on political developments, negotiates with the host government, and represents views and policies of the US government to his contacts. The political officer maintains regular contact with host government officials, political and labor leaders, and other influential citizens of the host country, as well as third country diplomats. The political officer is a major contributor to the overall intelligence picture.

The economic officer is an FSO who analyzes, prepares reports, and advises appropriate embassy and Department of State personnel on economic matters in the host country. Economic officers negotiate with the host government on trade and financial issues. They also work in close contact with relief organizations.

The medical officer is the senior medical person who is able to respond to and setup triage, trauma, and mass casualty operations. The medical officer can also advise the joint task force on medical threats and preventive medicine measures necessary for forces introduced into country. However, this should not take the place of good medical intelligence by the evacuating force before the operation.

The MSG detachment has, at a minimum, a commander and five watch standers. Only with the express consent of the COM is the detachment available for duty with forces deployed to conduct the NEO. The MSG detachment missions and duties include--

  • Exercising access control and providing stationary guard coverage of the principal buildings.

  • Conducting visual inspections of controlled access areas to detect possible physical or technical penetrations.

  • Providing temporary internal security guard Department of State representatives and local protection to the COM's (or charge d'affaires') residence.

  • Performing other duties required by circumstances requiring immediate action and as directed by the COM or charge d'affaires and RSO or PSO.

  • Protecting the principal buildings as outlined in the mission EAP or as directed by the COM or charge d'affaires and the RSO or PSO.

The MSG detachment commander is normally a member of the emergency action committee (EAC). The EAC is the interface between the Department of State and DOD. Its mission is to brief, coordinate, and plan for the evacuation and protection of US noncombatants and certain designated aliens. The EAC normally consists of representatives of the US government and country team.


The country team is a council of senior officers, normally section heads, working under the COM's direction to pool their skills and resources in the national interest of the United States. The country team system makes possible rapid interagency consultation, action, or recommendations from the field and effective execution of US missions, programs, and policies.

The organization of each country team varies, based on the COM's desires, the specific country situation, the number and size of US programs, and the qualifications of the senior officers representing the agencies. The country team normally consists of the following members:

  • Deputy chief of mission (DCM).

  • Consular officer.

  • Chief of station.

  • Regional security officer.

  • Political counselor.

  • Commercial attaché.

  • Agricultural attaché.

  • Science officer.

  • Public affairs officer.

  • Administrative officer.

  • Economics officer.

  • Director of the United States Information Service (USIS).

  • Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) attaché.

  • Director of the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

  • Director of the Peace Corps.

  • Defense attaché.

  • Chief, security assistance office (SAO).

The COM is charged by the President with the responsibility for overall direction, coordination, and supervision of US government activities in the country to which he is accredited. All military personnel, even those not assigned to the embassy or under direct control of the ambassador, must coordinate their activities with him, normally through the defense attaché office (DAO) or SAO.

The Department of State, acting on the advice and recommendation of the COM, decides when evacuation of designated personnel will take place. Normally, evacuation commences according to the embassy EAP, using scheduled commercial transportation, commercial charter transportation, or US military transportation. Arrangements for charter transportation, civilian or military, must be made by the Department of State's Under Secretary for Management.

If evacuation requirements exceed the capability of the diplomatic mission, the Secretary of State may request military assistance from the DOD. This might happen when the threat to US citizens makes it impractical to wait for other means of evacuation or if military forces are required to actively protect US citizens. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), when directed by the National Command Authorities (NCA), tasks this mission to the appropriate combatant commander (CINC). The CINC initiates appropriate military operations and coordinates with the State Department chair of his regional liaison group (RLG).


The WLG is chaired by a representative of the Department of State. Representatives from the Office, Secretary of Defense (OSD); the Joint Staff; and the military departments are members. The Department of State invites other US government departments and agencies to participate as appropriate. The WLG is responsible for coordinating the planning and implementation of Department of State and DOD plans for the protection and evacuation of noncombatants abroad. The representatives of the WLG are the points of contact for their departments on all matters pertaining to evacuation planning and implementation.

The WLG, through the Under Secretary for Management, arranges transportation beyond that routinely available to the embassy. It designates the ISB, safehaven, and repatriation site. (Unless otherwise designated by the OSD, the ultimate safehaven for DOD employees and dependents is the United States.) The WLG coordinates with the Department of Health and Human Services, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the Customs Bureau to ensure all non-US government evacuees are met at the initial port of entry in the United States, processed into the country, and assisted in making onward travel arrangements, as required.

By law and executive order (42 United States Code (USC) 1313 and Executive Order 12656), the Department of Health and Human Services meets and assists evacuees at the US port of entry. Assistance is provided only if evacuees are without adequate resources to resettle on their own the embassy and the Department of State recommend assistance, and the individual wishes it.


Regional liaison groups are joint monitoring and coordinating bodies established by the Department of State, chaired by that agency's political advisors to the CINCs, with representation from the DOD. RLGs ensure that embassies (or posts) and CINCs coordinate NEO planning. They provide advice and guidance to diplomatic and consulate posts and military commands in their areas by--

  • Providing liaison between the WLG and the embassy.

  • Ensuring coordination exists between the various embassies and military commands.

  • Assisting embassies and commands in planning for evacuation and protection of US citizens and certain designated aliens in case of emergency.

  • Reviewing EAPs and forwarding them to State Department with comments and recommendations.


A NEO is by nature an interagency operation. It includes evacuation of not only US government personnel, but also nongovernment, private volunteer, and, possibly, international relief organizations. Although ideally, these organizations should work with the embassy for evacuation the commander may need to provide liaison teams to coordinate with them.

An interagency task force, reporting to an interagency working group, may also be formed. This was done to coordinate interagency efforts in the evacuation of Rwanda in 1994.

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