Protecting the US at the World Cup
Jess Moore and Deputy Assistant Secretary Andrew Wroblewski with U.S. Marine Security Guards at the U.S. Embassy In Doha. Photo credit: U.S. Department of State
Jessica Moore ’94 is the chief of the Major Events Coordination Division of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service. She was recently in Doha, Qatar, preparing for the FIFA World Cup. Once she was back in Virginia, she got on the phone for a quick Q&A about her work.
When were you in Qatar?
I was there for a week prior to when the games began. I left the day before the opening ceremony.
That’s too bad that you didn’t get to watch any of that.
Yes, that’s how it works.
What was your role there?
I work for the Diplomatic Security Service, which is the law enforcement agency to the U.S. State Department. And within DSS, we are the security leads for the United States at the Men’s World Cup. So we serve, in Qatar, in a liaison, advisory, and security support role, essentially to do a couple of different things—to protect the U.S. Men’s National Team, our corporate sponsors, and citizens while in Qatar.
DSS chairs a group called the International Security Event Group, a U.S. government interagency effort consisting of more than 17 different U.S. agencies that coordinate efforts to ensure the protection of U.S. citizens overseas.
What are those efforts?
Specifically, for this event, we’ve done a couple different things. We actually embed DSS agents with the U.S. Men’s National Team, their friends and family, and others. We also set up a joint operation center within the U.S. Embassy, and that handles issues and communications, whether it’s to our embeds out in town or whether that’s back here to Washington. And then we also work to get people into the Qataris’ International Police Command Center, so we can have firsthand knowledge if there is an issue or an incident and assist the Qataris if they ask us for assistance, but also to get the information out to our people.
So, the agents that are embedded with the team, are they wearing uniforms, or embedded with staff?
I can’t really get into the security arrangements, but I can say that they are in close proximity to the team, whether they’re playing in a World Cup game or just practicing at their base camp.
That’s really interesting.
There’s a lot of things that we have to do that aren’t necessarily fun in our daily lives, but we consider this one of the fun things we have to do. And oftentimes, the DSS embeds are big soccer fans, as well, so they see it as a bonus.
Are you a soccer fan?
No, not really. I’d call myself more of a sports fan or a baseball fan. I grew up as a Junior Oriole. I watched the Baltimore Orioles since I was really little. But I did play soccer at Goucher. I played basketball. I played lacrosse. Goucher has so many opportunities to do things like that.
Did your week go smoothly?
Yes, it went really smoothly. I took my deputy assistant secretary with me, and we went out and we checked on the security plans. We thanked the U.S. Embassy for their assistance because, for the last two years, my office had sent out a World Cup security coordinator. For the last two years, he has been working in Qatar, just shoring up our contingency planning and our relationships with the Qataris. He works out of the embassy in Doha, so we went there to thank them for their assistance.
We also met with a three-star general with the Qatari Police, to let them know that we were there to support them and to ask us if they needed any assistance.
So this is really years in the planning?
Absolutely. We have a whole office within DSS, called the Major Events Coordination Division, and I’m the chief of it. We are responsible for security planning as it relates to anything with our U.S. teams, sponsors, or citizens for all international special security events.
Aside from the World Cup, we do security planning for the Olympics, so we’re already looking at Paris 2024. We do the Pan Am Games, which are scheduled for late 2023. I’m super excited about the Women’s National Team going to New Zealand and Australia in the summer. And we also help with the international summits such as APEC or ASEAN or the climate conference that just happened in Sharm El Shiekh.
How long have you been in this position?
I’ve been in my current position since August of this year. But I’ve been with the Diplomatic Security Service since 1998, so just a couple years after I graduated.
How did you end up working for DSS?
DSS, like I said, is the law enforcement agency to the U.S. State Department. And we are foreign service specialists, technical specialists, and diplomats. And I grew up in a foreign service family. So I actually knew about DSS when I was younger and lived overseas prior to coming to Goucher.
Where did you live overseas?
I went overseas for all of high school. I lived in Cairo, Egypt, and then I went to Athens, Greece. I graduated from the American Community School in Athens, and then I attended Goucher.
You have never been to a World Cup before with DSS?
I had never, no.
What is your job like most of the time?
We have an international component and a domestic component to what we do. When I joined in 1998, I went, directly following training and graduation, to Secretary Albright’s protective detail. So DSS, domestically, protects the Secretary of State, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, foreign dignitaries. We also investigate visa fraud, passport fraud, human trafficking issues. But specifically, I was assigned to Secretary Albright’s protective detail. After which, I went overseas to serve as our assistant regional security officer in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. That was following some language training.
We work in more than 170 countries. We have the largest global presence of any U.S. law enforcement organization. In my role as the assistant regional security officer, and later as the regional security officer, we’re the DSS special agent, and we are the senior law enforcement advisor to the U.S. ambassador. So when we go overseas, we are responsible for the protection of our people in the embassy, the consulate, the protection of our information and of our buildings. The mission, essentially, of DSS is to advance U.S. foreign policy and safeguard our national security interests.
I served in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and Manila, Philippines, as an assistant regional security officer. I went on to the consulate general in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand—again, following language training—as the regional security officer, where I opened the office there for DSS, and then came back and did some domestic work.
We have 33 offices throughout the United States, and I was in Philadelphia for about three years and Tucson for two, where I ran our investigative offices in each of those locations for DSS. And then I went back overseas again, to Rangoon, Burma, where I was the regional security officer, and recently came out of Dar es Salaam in August of 2020.
I was domestically stationed after that, before this job in major events. I was the CR division chief for DSS headquarters. Essentially, I was the criminal investigations division chief. I handled investigative policy. I had an investigative office of 25 agents who did major case investigations, passport, visa fraud, and human trafficking, where there was a predicate offense of passport or visa fraud. Within that office, we do analysis of visa and passport fraud trends. Also, the financial asset forfeiture office fell under my purview as the criminal investigations chief, and our evidence program. So DSS offers a lot of opportunities to go in a lot of directions. And I feel like I have touched a little bit on all of those.
Are you happy now to be in security event coordination?
Yes, I’m super happy. It’s a wonderful job that really showcases the best of DSS and how we work with our international partners and other countries to help secure these major events.
If I could let you know one other thing, I just have such fond memories of Goucher. I haven’t been back in a long time, but I like to think of us as small but mighty. And I can tell you, throughout my travels around the world, if I tell people I graduated from Goucher, their response is always positive. Even across the globe, we have an excellent reputation. And I’m super proud to be part of the Goucher alumni.