About the Author: Michael Coady serves as Marine Security Guard (MSG) Branch Chief in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.
This Veterans Day, as the nation honors the men and women who have served so selflessly in our armed forces, I urge my Department of State colleagues to pay special tribute to the members — past and present — of the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group.
Referred to informally as Marine Security Guards (MSGs), today more than 1,300 of these dedicated, specially trained Marines are deployed worldwide to help protect U.S. embassies and consulates around the globe.
Since 1949, Marine Security Guard detachments at U.S. diplomatic posts abroad have worked closely with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security to protect and safeguard American diplomacy.
They perform their mission in a number of ways and often under a variety of challenging, and sometimes dangerous, circumstances.
Marine Security Guards stand duty 24 hours each day, seven days a week, at U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide. They staff the all-important Post One communications operation at our embassies, thereby ensuring vital emergency communications are properly routed during times of emergency or heightened alert. As such, they perform an essential role in protecting and ensuring the operation of U.S. diplomacy abroad.
MSGs protect classified information and equipment from unauthorized disclosure, and provide internal security protection for U.S. citizens and U.S. Government property under a range of circumstances, up to and including hostile assaults.
They respond immediately to crises large and small, including street demonstrations, bomb threats, fires, nuclear/biological/chemical threats, and intrusion attempts.
Marine Security Guards have helped protect State Department facilities against anti-American riots, helped evacuate U.S. diplomats and their families during times of crisis, extinguished fires in U.S. embassies, and saved countless lives abroad from civil unrest, earthquakes and floods.
The courage and support of the MSGs has been constant in every situation.
MSGs stood side-by-side with their State Department colleagues during the horrific 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. They responded immediately to the 2004 terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where they helped prevent the attackers from entering the consulate building. And they were with us in Belgrade in 2008, when thousands of angry rioters sought to burn down the U.S. Embassy.
Time after time, the MSGs have shown themselves to be a solid line of defense for American diplomacy. Without them, we in the Foreign Service could not conduct American diplomacy abroad.
So on this Veterans Day, I ask that all Americans remember and honor the contribution of the dedicated and courageous professionals of the Marine Security Guard program who have fulfilled their duty by ensuring that the United States can conduct diplomacy safely and securely around the world.
Marine Security Guards, we thank you for your service and sacrifice, and we salute you!