Embassy Country Teams

The embassy building in Ottawa.

The United States maintains embassies in more than 180 countries worldwide, each headed by a Chief of Mission. The Chief of Mission is responsible for providing integrated advice to Washington, directing and coordinating all executive branch offices and personnel in country, and executing integrated U.S. plans and programs in the country. The Chief of Mission heads the mission's "country team" of U.S. Government personnel, which is the permanent mechanism for interagency coordination within a host nation.

The country team is composed of an embassy’s lead State Department officials, the heads of all agencies represented in the embassy, and others as appointed by the Ambassador. The Country Team meets regularly to discuss issues and coordinate all activities within the mission. Other executive branch agencies represented in a mission may include the Departments of Commerce, Agriculture, Defense, Homeland Security, Treasury, Energy, and Justice (including the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation); U.S. Agency for International Development, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Aviation Administration, Internal Revenue Service, and Peace Corps; and Congressional organizations such as the GAO. Other U.S. Government agencies make vital contributions to the success of U.S. foreign relations and in promoting U.S. interests abroad. Most embassies are structured with 5 Department of State-focused operational areas: management, public affairs, consular operations, economic, and political. (Responsibilities of the Country Team).

While there are many country team products, those with most relevance for interagency coordination are cables that report information and provide advice to Washington-based entities, bi-lateral agreements, annual Mission Strategic Plans that outline Embassy objectives, programs and desired resources, and finally, issue specific plans. Of course, as a field entity, the country team also produces results by implementing U.S. programs and communicating with the host nation.