When war broke out in Khartoum in April 2023 and the United States began planning a possible evacuation of the U.S. Embassy, a team of Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) special agents and security professionals from the regional security office took center stage. Their goal: To safeguard embassy personnel, the facility, and sensitive information.
As is the case for DSS at other diplomatic posts throughout the world, the Khartoum team carried out a detailed emergency action plan. DSS Supervisory Special Agent and Regional Security Officer (RSO) Ryan Renuart led the team, which ultimately brought about the safe evacuation of Americans working at the diplomatic mission in Sudan.
For overseeing the rescue and evacuation of endangered embassy employees—as well as managing previous crises that had threatened U.S. interests in Sudan— Renuart was named the 2023 Robert C. Bannerman Diplomatic Security Employee of the Year by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. During a ceremony at the U.S. Department of State, the secretary noted that the situation has been fluid and dynamic in Sudan from the time Renuart arrived in June 2021 until April 22, 2023, when the U.S. embassy suspended operations there.
Blinken commended Renuart for guiding 30 members of the U.S. Embassy community to safety during a crisis in Khartoum in 2021. He applauded Renuart and his team for an exhaustive after-action review immediately after the crisis. Blinken said that because of the work that Renuart helped initiate, the U.S. staff and all of their family members were able to depart Sudan safely in April.
The DSS Khartoum team had been planning for months for a possible suspension of operations. Instability had been on the rise in Sudan well before the United States evacuated. In 2021, Sudan experienced mass protests, a failed coup, and subsequent military seizure of power, which resulted in an authorized departure for U.S. staff working at Embassy Khartoum. When armed conflict broke out in April 2023, the DSS team rescued isolated personnel and closely coordinated with the Department of Defense on planning for the evacuation of Chief of Mission personnel at the embassy.
“Over the course of seven days in April 2023, our incredible team successfully rescued 24 trapped personnel under dangerous conditions, including ambushes and artillery fire,” Renuart said. “From there, we moved the remaining staff to the U.S. embassy, before successfully preparing the embassy for the suspension of operations. The work of our local staff, colleagues from other organizations, and our Defense Department partners was instrumental in ensuring that everyone survived. I couldn’t be prouder of their efforts.”
Renuart, who has traveled the world as a DSS special agent since 2008, grew up as a military dependent and attended high schools in Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Germany. He spent six years flying on rescue helicopters in the United States Air Force and then transitioned into the U.S. Air Force Reserve for another six years while he attended college at the University of Florida, earning a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture.
“Growing up around the world and seeing my parents’ service to our country instilled a desire in me to continue that work on behalf of our nation,” said Renuart. “After serving in the U.S. Air Force and attending the University of Florida, I applied for a position in the Diplomatic Security Service in hopes of continuing this pathway. For me, the ability to live and work in incredible locations overseas reinforces my understanding at how privileged we are to be Americans.”
DSS, in its role as the law enforcement and security arm of the State Department, is constantly evaluating and re-evaluating all aspects of security at State Department facilities worldwide and adjusts security procedures as appropriate to the local threat environment. The success of the evacuation from Sudan highlights the dedication and professionalism of the Khartoum regional security office team, locally employed staff, and the Marine Security Guards who served at the embassy.
“We are indebted to our locally employed staff who always form the backbone of the U.S. mission abroad,” Renuart said. “The team took extraordinary actions at great risk to themselves to selflessly support us in a crisis.”
He added that “the bravery and courage the Marine Security Guards showed in Khartoum was evident. They are a key part of our security posture and evacuation procedures.”
Renuart and his team in Khartoum demonstrated that when U.S. diplomacy is threatened overseas, DSS is a key component of the embassy’s success in dealing with the larger crisis.