You will find a U.S. Embassy Marine Security Guard Detachment protecting virtually all U.S. Embassies throughout the world. These young men and women provide a vital service to our diplomats abroad. Misconceptions abound regarding their role. For example, they are actually the last line, not the first line, of protection at a U.S. Mission. They do not have the weapons and infrastructure to defend against an attacking army.
Their primary responsibility concerns protection of classified material. Local guard force members and/or local police provide perimeter protection. A Marine will be the person, after the initial screening by the guards takes place, that scrutinizes your ID for perhaps the third time and makes sure you follow access control procedures required for non-employees to be inside the “hard line” or the areas of the Embassy where Americans and local staff work. They prevent an individual or group from entering the hard line and harming Americans or local staff.
Marines Security Guards, or MSGs, receive a lot of specialized training. You must volunteer for the program and the screening process, including a battery of psychological tests just to get a chance to go to the MSG course, is rigorous. A great duty for any young Marine, the program provides a wonderful opportunity to see and experience a world outside the confines of normal Marine military duty.
Interestingly, if not unique, at a U.S. Embassy, MSGs fall under civilian operational control. The Regional Security Officer (RSO) or chief of Embassy security is their direct supervisor. The RSO is a civilian. He or she approves all guard orders, sets the parameters for the Embassy access control policy, and provides direct operational supervision. The Detachment Commander, usually a Gunnery Sergeant or above, directly supervises the MSG’s day-to-day activities, including the many and varied Marine Corp requirements, such as Physical Training, locker and uniform inspections, etc.
Marines provide invaluable support to our Diplomatic Corp. During demonstrations, attacks, natural disasters and direct attacks, the MSGs are always there, putting their lives on the line for their country.
The MSG tradition of community service also makes them highly regarded by the wives and children of the U.S. Embassy community. MSGs play Santa Claus, support Toys for Tots and food drives, assist with Embassy charity functions, etc. At one post, my Marines arranged an incredibly popular and inventive annual haunted house at Halloween for the American dependent children.
Their sense of humor caused me some headaches over the years though. The Marine House, a residence leased or rented where all of the MSGs reside, traditionally holds Happy Hour functions (though in today’s politically correct world they must call them something else). At one of the parties a number of years ago the Ambassador’s wife fainted. This particular Embassy was located West Africa. Voodoo originated here and you could easily purchase various paraphernalia associated with the religion in the local market, including animal and human body parts. It seems that the MSGs had gone to the market and purchased a particularly large male human body part preserved in alcohol, and placed it on the mantel of the fireplace. They forgot to remove it for the party and when Mrs. Ambassador saw it and realized what it was, she fainted. It took a lot of mea culpas and assurances that it would not happen again to save the MSG Detachment commander from being named persona non grata by the Ambassador and kicked out of country!
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
As Vice President of a Security Fusion Center, Bill has provided risk management advice and direction to major Fortune 100 defense industry, ultra high net worth and other clients.
As Global Director for Security, Alem International, Bill planned and directed all facets of the security and risk mitigation strategies for the 2004 Olympic Torch Relay that took place in over 34 countries.
Bill was commissioned as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Officer in the US Army immediately after college.
Mr. Gaskill has a Bachelor of Science degree in Ancient History with a math minor from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.He has a current Top Secret/SCI clearance.He has professional fluency ratings in Spanish, Greek, Hebrew and French, and has a working knowledge of Russian.