In most countries with which it has diplomatic relations, the U.S. maintains an embassy, which usually is located in the host country capital. The U.S. also may have consulates in other large commercial centers or in dependencies of the country. Several countries have U.S. ambassadors accredited to them who are not resident in the country. In a few special cases–such as when it does not have full diplomatic relations with a country–the U.S. may be represented by only a U.S. Liaison Office or U.S. Interests Section, which may be headed by a Principal Officer rather than a Chief of Mission.
The Chief of Mission — with the title of Ambassador, Minister, or Chargé d’Affaires — and the Deputy Chief of Mission head the mission’s “country team” of U.S. Government personnel. Responsibilities of Chiefs of Mission at post also include:
- Speaking with one voice to others on U.S. policy–and ensuring mission staff do likewise–while providing to the President and Secretary of State expert guidance and frank counsel;
- Directing and coordinating all executive branch offices and personnel (except for those under the command of a U.S. area military commander, under another chief of mission, or on the staff of an international organization);
- Cooperating with the U.S. legislative and judicial branches so that U.S. foreign policy goals are advanced; security is maintained; and executive, legislative, and judicial responsibilities are carried out;
- Reviewing communications to or from mission elements;
- Taking direct responsibility for the security of the mission — including security from terrorism — and protecting all U.S. Government personnel on official duty (other than those personnel under the command of a U.S. area military commander) and their dependents;
- Carefully using mission resources through regular reviews of programs, personnel, and funding levels;
- Reshaping the mission to serve American interests and values and to ensure that all executive branch agencies attached to the mission do likewise; and
- Serving Americans with professional excellence, the highest standards of ethical conduct, and diplomatic discretion.