Diplomatic Security Service Technical Teams Secure New York for UNGA 73

3 minutes read time
DSS personnel set up equipment to provide around-the-clock secure communications and support for the 73rd U.N. General Assembly in New York, Sept. 14, 2018. (U.S. Department of State photo)
DSS personnel set up equipment to provide around-the-clock secure communications and support for the 73rd U.N. General Assembly in New York, Sept. 14, 2018. (U.S. Department of State photo)

Diplomatic Security Service Technical Teams Secure New York for UNGA 73

Hundreds of foreign dignitaries have descended upon New York City to participate in the 73rd annual U.N. General Assembly where they are discussing today’s most pressing international affairs. 

Making sure those dignitaries can do so safely is the job of the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). As the law enforcement and security arm of the U.S. Department of State, DSS provides a safe and secure environment for the conduct of U.S. diplomacy. The U.N. General Assembly is the DSS’ largest diplomatic protection effort each year. Approximately 750 DSS personnel are supporting UNGA 73, including more than 400 DSS special agents who are providing dignitary protection for the visiting diplomats.  

The first from DSS to arrive in NYC each year are the DSS security engineering officers (SEOs), security technical specialists (STSs), IT support, and other comms and tech staff who help stand up the Dignitary Protection Operations Center (DPOC). These professionals can standup technical security and communications in any terrain, from the dense rainforests of Brazil to the concrete jungle of New York City. The DPOC is the centralized command center for DSS at UNGA, with multiple laptops, phones, big screens, and other hardware to make sure DSS has eyes and ears on all protective details and locations throughout the week. 

A DSS security engineering officer sweeps a hotel room to check for equipment that could compromise security at the 73rd U.N. General Assembly in New York City, Sept. 12, 2018. (U.S. Department of State photo)

UNGA 73 is the third UNGA STS Chad Hill has supported. He and his colleagues began unpacking multiple boxes filled with state-of-the-art security equipment during the wee hours of the morning nearly two weeks before the first diplomats began touching down in New York.

“By arriving to event sites ahead of our agent colleagues and their protectees, we are assuring that the technology ‘safety net’ we provide is 100 percent operational before they even know they need us,” said Hill.

A technical specialist positions equipment to support DSS’ mission to provide a safe and secure environment for the conduct of U.S. diplomacy at the 73rd U.N. General Assembly in New York City, Sept. 13, 2018. (U.S. Department of State photo)

A week before the event, DSS communications and technical experts fanned across the city to install the communications infrastructure that allows DSS personnel to securely communicate with each other and their U.S. law enforcement partners supporting the event. The STSs and SEOs install and monitor CCTV systems, stand-up bullet-proof furniture, outfit special agents with technical and communications gear, and provide other security measures to counter any potential technical threats that might arise.

As they do every year, the technical and communications experts of DSS have covered every security base - physical, technical, and virtual - to keep the world’s diplomats safe as they do their business in New York City this year. 

Check out more photos of DSS in action at UNGA 73.

About the Author: Angela French serves in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security at the U.S. Department of State.