Unlike his predecessor, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Kerry has made reaching a peace accord a top goal of his tenure. “We have some period of time – a year to year-and-a-half to two years – or it’s over," he said, underscoring the urgency of his Middle East effort.
On the proposed budget, about half of the amount set aside for security is earmarked for construction of more secure facilities. The goal? That diplomats might no longer find themselves trapped in exposed, poorly guarded facilities like the Benghazi mission, where Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans lost their lives in a missile and fire-bombing attack last September.
While the State Department’s schedule of overseas construction projects has been revamped since Benghazi to give priority to what are deemed to be the most vulnerable facilities, construction still takes time.
In addition to construction, the State Department is also moving to add more Marine guards to at-risk embassies and to step up the training and vetting of locally hired security guards.
But all of those measures take time, too. For example, the State Department can request but can’t order the deployment of additional Marine guards – it can only make a request with the Pentagon.
In January, Mrs. Clinton said in her last congressional testimony as secretary of State that Benghazi had prompted her to ask the Defense Department “to dispatch hundreds of additional Marine guards” to “high-risk” embassies. The Pentagon says it is evaluating the request.