The Foreign Service is quite small. As Secretary of Defense Gates once said, there are more military musicians than Foreign Service Officers. So, when I hear about an attack on a diplomatic facility, it’s kind of like someone attacking a building down the street instead of on the other side of the world. When I saw the news that a suicide bomber had attacked the U.S. embassy in Ankara, my mind quickly flashed to my friend serving there now, and then to several friends who had served there in the past and are in training to serve there soon.
Later that day, news got out that the suicide bomber had killed a locally hired guard. This man was Turkish, not American, but gave his life in service to the United States. At every U.S. embassy and consulate around the world, locally hired staff work to further the goals of U.S. foreign policy, to ensure that facilities are working properly, and to protect the buildings and the people inside of them. Often they do so without the protections and benefits that diplomats get in dangerous and difficult locales. They know that U.S. embassies and consulates around the world are targets for many people and that working for the United States makes them targets as well, but they still continue to guard our diplomatic facilities.
All too often, when someone attacks a U.S. embassy or consulate, the locally hired staff are the first ones hit, bear the brunt of the attack, and suffer the greatest casualties. So, while the media has moved on to the next story, please remember that these local guards put their lives on the line to protect U.S. embassies and consulates daily. They may not be U.S. citizens, but that does not mean that they do not sacrifice for our country.