New Bureaus and All That Jazz, and You Can Still Do More With Less

On January 4, the State Department announced the creation of the new Bureau of Counterterrorism.

Because the QDDR said so.  The new bureau will reportedly “lead in supporting U.S. counterterrorism diplomacy and seek to strengthen homeland security, countering violent extremism, and build the capacity of partner nations to deal effectively with terrorism.” According to a recent official briefing, the new CT bureau will start with some 70 full time government employees including detailees, contractors, and the like but will eventually top off at approximately 120 staffers in all. It has  four functional directorates: Homeland Security and
Multilateral Affairs; Operations; Programs, Policy, and Budget; and
Regional Affairs.

The predecessor organization to CT was the Office for Combatting Terrorism, created in October 1972 upon the recommendation of a special committee appointed by President Richard Nixon following the Munich Olympics terrorist attack. The committee determined that an office was needed within the Department of State to provide day-to-day counterterrorism coordination and to develop policy initiatives and responses for the U.S. Government on the issue of international terrorism.

On Aug 1, 1976, the Department of State elevated the position of Special Assistant to the Secretary of State and Coordinator of the Office for Combating Terrorism to that of Director of the Office for Combating Terrorism, with rank equivalent to an Assistant Secretary of State. All Directors have been designated by the Secretary of State, not commissioned. The Department has changed the incumbent’s title twice since 1976 to “Ambassador at Large for Counter-Terrorism” on Nov 4, 1985, and to “Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism” on May 1, 1989.

In 1994, Congress officially mandated the Bureau of Counterterrorism in Public Law 103-236 [H.R. 2333]. In 1998, Congress further defined the role of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism in Public Law 105-277 [H.R. 4328]:

There is within the office of the Secretary of State a Coordinator for Counterterrorism…who shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate…. The principal duty of the coordinator shall be the overall supervision (including policy oversight of resources) of international counterterrorism activities. The Coordinator shall be the principal adviser to the Secretary of State on international counterterrorism matters. The coordinator shall be the principal counterterrorism official within the senior management of the Department of State and shall report directly to the Secretary of State…The Coordinator shall have the rank and status of Ambassador at Large.

But CT did not get elevated into a bureau until now. 

So what is the mission of the new CT bureau? 

“[T]o to lead the Department in the U.S. Government’s effort to counter terrorism abroad and to secure the United States against foreign terrorist threats. The bureau will have a number of concrete responsibilities. In coordination with Department leadership, the National Security Staff, and U.S. Government agencies, other U.S. Government agencies, it will develop and implement counterterrorism strategies, policies, operations, and programs to disrupt and defeat the networks that support terrorism.”

It will implement its mission by:

1) Developing and implementing counterterrorism strategies, policies, and operations
2) Strengthening counterterrorism diplomacy
3) Strengthening homeland security
4) Countering violent extremism
5) Building the capacity of foreign partners

What about NCTC’s to “Lead our nation’s effort to combat terrorism at home and abroad by
analyzing the threat, sharing that information with our partners, and
integrating all instruments of national power to ensure unity of

If NCTC’s mission is to lead … in combating terrorism at home and abroad, and State’s new bureau is also to “lead the Department in the U.S. Government’s effort to counter terrorism abroad” … who’s going to do what where when? I hope our State folks have sturdy shoes.

But here’s the real kicker: Daniel Benjamin, the current Coordinator of the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism (and who presumably will lead the new office) says, “I want to emphasize that in these tight budget times, we’re doing our part to be good stewards of public funds by standing up the bureau with existing resources.”

DipNote, State’s official blog published something entitled, Ten Things You Should Know About the Bureau of Counterterrorism.  All nice and good but you need some thick juice to do even these ten things.

For many, many years now, the State Department’s unofficial motto has been “doing more with less.”  Pretty soon it’ll be able to do just about everything with nothing.

And oh … if you can’t find your desk tomorrow, check out the new bureau; it may have been reallocated.

* * *

In related news, I should note that last November, the State Department also launched the new Bureau for Energy Resources (ENR) with Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs Carlos Pascual as the top honcho.  Mr. Pascual was the Mexican casualty of WikiLeaks. ENR has one Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (PDAS), three  Deputy Assistant Secretaries (DAS) and 53 staffers.

As with Ambassador Benjamin of the new Counterterrorism Bureau, Mr. Pascual talks reallocation: “We’ve reallocated, as I mentioned, a total of 53 personnel, and the costs associated with those individuals have already been part of the State Department budget and become transferred into our budget. There is a small operating budget that we have initially, which will be in the range of 10 million dollars or so of resources that began from FY11 funds.”

Also last November, the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS), which was established in law (but was not funded), was integrated into another new Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO). Its webpage does not have any relevant information in terms of leadership, staffing or operating budget; not a stabilizing sign.

Finally, Democracy and Global Affairs is now Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights or “J” and has the following bureaus and offices: Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO),  Counterterrorism (CT),  Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL), International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) and the Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons and Office of Global Criminal Justice.

Quiz tomorrow on the new alphabet soup. Also, this is Secretary Clinton’s last year in Foggy Bottom.  So more reorg possibly in the works; 2012 will be a make it happen year.