“Country teams” in embassies are made up of key figures from the State Department and other agencies who work under the direction of the ambassador and meet regularly to share information and coordinate their actions. This practice has been followed since May 29, 1961, when President John F. Kennedy wrote to all U.S. chiefs of mission saying, “You are in charge of the entire United States Diplomatic Mission and I shall expect you to supervise all of its operations. The Mission includes not only the personnel of the Department of State and the Foreign Service, but also the representatives of all other United States agencies which have programs or activities in [your country].” Depending on embassy size and the nature of U.S. interests in a country, each country team may be configured differently—and some may include more than 40 agencies. In addition to State Department section chiefs and the head of the local USAID mission, the following are some agencies most frequently represented on a mission’s country team.
Department of Agriculture
The mission of the Department of Agriculture (USDA) is to provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science and efficient management. At embassies, the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) is responsible for collecting, analyzing and disseminating information about global supply and demand, trade trends and market opportunities. FAS seeks improved market access for U.S. products, administers export financing and market development programs, provides export services, carries out food aid and market-related technical assistance programs, and provides links to world resources and international organizations. Its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) also has offices in some overseas embassies.
Department of Commerce
The mission of the Department of Commerce (DOC) is to foster, promote and develop the foreign and domestic commerce of the United States. It advances these objectives by participating with other government agencies in the creation of national policy, promoting and assisting international trade, strengthening the international economic position of the United States, promoting progressive business policies and growth, improving comprehension of the environment, ensuring effective use and growth of scientific and technical resources, and assisting states, communities and individuals with economic progress. Foreign Service Officers of the DOC Foreign Commercial Service (FCS) staff the commercial sections of embassies abroad.
Department of Defense
The mission of the United States Department of Defense (DOD) is to provide the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of the United States. This mission is achieved through war-fighting, humanitarian efforts, peacekeeping and evacuation operations. The Defense Department has employees located in more than 146 countries. Personnel of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA, a part of DOD), representing the service branches of the U.S. military, staff the Defense Attache Offices (DAO) at embassies abroad.
Drug Enforcement Agency
The mission of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is to enforce the controlled-substances laws and regulations of the United States and to bring to justice organizations involved in the growing, manufacture or distribution of such substances. It also supports nonenforcement programs aimed at reducing the availability of illicit controlled substances on domestic and international markets. Cooperation with foreign law enforcement agencies is essential to the DEA mission. To support international investigations, DEA operates abroad in more than 50 countries. Its special agents assist their foreign counterparts by developing sources of information, interviewing witnesses and working undercover to assist in surveillance efforts on cases that involve drug trafficking to the United States. DEA also seeks U.S. indictments against major foreign traffickers who have committed crimes against American citizens.
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The mission of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is to protect and defend the United States against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats, uphold and enforce the criminal laws of the United States and provide leadership and criminal justice service to federal, state, municipal and international agencies and partners. The globalization of crime – terrorism; international trafficking of drugs, contraband and people; and cyber crime – requires the FBI to integrate law enforcement efforts around the world to stop foreign crime as far from U.S. borders as possible and to help solve international crimes as quickly as possible. The FBI has more than 50 Legal Attaché offices (legats) in U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. Legats coordinate international investigations with their colleagues, cover international leads for domestic U.S. investigations, link U.S. and international resources in critical criminal and terrorist areas and coordinate FBI training classes for police in their geographic areas.
Department of Homeland Security
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was established to “provide the unifying core for the vast national network of organizations and institutions involved in efforts to secure our nation.” It works to ensure safe and secure borders, welcome lawful immigrants and visitors, and promote the free flow of commerce. Its Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), is responsible for immigration and naturalization adjudication as well as immigration services policies and priorities. USCIS has overseas field offices in about 25 countries.
Department of Treasury
The mission of the Department of the Treasury (DOT), “the steward of U.S. economic and financial systems,” is “to promote the conditions for prosperity and stability in the United Sates and encourage prosperity and stability in the rest of the world.” A major participant in the international economy, the DOT monitors economic trends and seeks “to influence global financial and economic issues whenever possible.” Its Office of International Affairs supports economic prosperity at home by encouraging financial stability and sound economic policies abroad through engagement with financial market participants, foreign governments and international financial institutions. Officers in DOT’s International Affairs sections perform surveillance and in-depth analysis of global economic and financial developments. Treasury Attaches are assigned at some large embassies abroad.