“Aloha from Lahore,” said Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Supervisory Special Agent Wil Makaneole, who is currently serving as consul general at the U.S. Consulate in Lahore, Pakistan. Makaneole, a native-born Hawaiian, said he grew up as an expat kid overseas until his military family returned to Hawaii where he spent his high school and college years. DSS Deputy Director of Public Affairs Angela French interviewed Makaneole during an Instagram Live session on May 13, 2022.
“Hawaii is the melting pot of the Pacific,” said Makaneole. He added that being exposed to different cultures at an early age helped him “spread the aloha” in both his personal life and career over the years. That same knowledge of other countries, languages, and cultures also helped him launch a career with the Diplomatic Security Service right out of college.
“I knew I wanted to be a federal agent and the one agency that really interested me was DSS,” said Makaneole. He spotted an advertisement in his college newspaper, talked to the recruiter, and began his career several years later on Sept. 17, 2001, only a few days after 9/11.
Makaneole described a full 20-year career with DSS—a career that began in Kabul, Afghanistan, between 2003-2005, and included assignments in Iraq, Oman, Yemen,, and an earlier tour in Pakistan. His career also includes two separate tours with the DSS Office of Mobile Security Deployments (MSD) and postings in the Pentagon and in the White House where he served at the National Security Council as Director of Counterterrorism – Global Threats during both the Trump and Biden Administrations.
“My favorite assignment was serving as regional security officer (RSO) at the U.S. Embassy in Muscat, Oman, where I got to experience all facets of a real live embassy,” said Makaneole, “This includes such responsibilities as handling traditional security, advising the U.S. ambassador on all security-related incidents, serving as the lead law enforcement representative for the ambassador, handling protection operations and the physical security of the building, and being responsible for the overall safety and security of State Department personnel posted overseas.
“It is like being the sheriff of a small city,” Makaneole added. “And in the case of some of our larger embassies, such as in London, that would be the sheriff of a very big city.” “I cut my teeth there on what it’s like to be an RSO for the rest of my career, and it also gave me the opportunity to have my son and daughter in school there and experience that lifestyle.”
“What kind of folks is DSS seeking in its recruitment operation?” said Makaneole in answer to a question from the viewers. “DSS is looking for sound judgment, interpersonal skills, and the ability to work with law enforcement professionals and others both domestically and overseas.” He also noted that applicants do not need to have previous military or law enforcement experience but must meet physical fitness standards and a certain amount of candor as to who they are and what they are about.
“DSS is looking for diversity,” he added, not only regarding gender, race, and ethnic/cultural backgrounds, but also in past careers and interests.
As the interview ended, Makaneole summarized how important a career with DSS has been to him and his family.
“This job changed my life and made me a better version of me,” said Makaneole. “You can have a family and be able to live overseas, meet new people in fantastic places, and experience different cultures.”
“I was a random, nobody kid, from Kahuku, Hawaii, just a normal island kid—and I thought it would be cool to serve overseas and work for the government. Anybody can make it. You have got to have that passion, that drive.”
It is a life changing job—but not just a job, it is a lifestyle,” Makaneole concluded.