Salute to Our Marine Security Guards

Posted by Michael Coady
November 10, 2010
Marine Stands Guard Next to U.S. Embassy

About the Author: Michael Coady serves as Marine Security Guard Branch Chief, Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

Today, we honor the men and women who have served so honorably and with great courage in our armed forces, helping to defend the nation's citizens and interests throughout the world.

But this November 11, we in the State Department should pay special tribute to those service members who have helped protect and defend our diplomatic missions abroad as members of the Marine Security Guard program.

More than 1,100 Marines now serve in 150 diplomatic posts in 138 countries, helping to protect classified information and equipment and to safeguard the lives of the people who work there.

The skill, devotion to duty and country, and valor that the Marine Security Guards bring to these diplomatic posts has been a comfort to many of us in the Foreign Service, especially those assigned to U.S. Embassies in high-threat or hostile environments. We know that in times of crises and emergencies, our colleagues the Marine Security Guards will be there to help us protect the nation's secrets and embassy personnel.

The bonds between the Marine Security Guard program and the Foreign Service are strong and enduring. That relationship, and the MSG program itself, continue to grow. This past year we welcomed two new MSG detachments into our State Department family, and we expect at least eight more detachments over the next five years.

As part of our commitment to the MSG program, the Department of State is helping design a new Marine Security Guard training facility in Quantico, Virginia. The new installation will replicate the State Department's new embassy compound design and will provide training on the most advanced security equipment that we have at our embassies worldwide.

And some of those Marine Corps veterans who once served so honorably in the Marine Security Guard program have returned to the Department of State as Foreign Service officers, civil servants, and contractors, including many of my own colleagues here in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security. So in some instances, we can truly say that we are one with the MSGs.

This Veterans Day, let us remember all who have served the nation through their military service. But let us also especially thank those who have served as Marine Security Guards, for they are part of our State Department family.

Comments

Comments

Cindy M.
|
Michigan, USA
November 11, 2010

Cindy M. in Michigan writes:

Happy Birthday USMC! A Lot of My family are former Marines. :)

John P.
|
Greece
November 11, 2010

John P. in Greece writes:

Keep up the Great job you do Marines.

Extremely good post Mr. Coady!

I'd love to read more of you from time to time.

Jennifer C.
|
California, USA
November 12, 2010

Jennifer C. in California writes:

Thank you for all you do! Happy Veterans Day

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
November 12, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Hi John,

Someone once said that becoming a Marine means never having to wonder whether you made a difference in the world or not.

I gather that this is because they do so on a daily basis.

(Something probably that diplomats and terrorists can actually agree on from opposite ends of that difference as it manifests in the job description in the field)

@ Michael Cody,

I don't know if you're at liberty to discus an issue of concern to a lot of folks including myself as a citizen, but I was wondering what it would take logisticly and legistatively to allow the US dept of State to hire enough people in the ranks of diplomatic security to replace all the private security contractors now under contract to provide the essential security and have everyone under the same ROE, ethical standards, training standards, and eliminate the negative impact on diplomatic relations in host nations and frankly to not create a separate "armed services" within the Dept of State which is basicly a diplomatic agency to begin with?

Where do you see the ultimate solution as far as meeting these parameters goes?

Currently one could say that the taxpayer isn't getting their money's worth from these contractors all things considered and it was introduced as a stop-gap measure to begin with to fill a void.

So how do we fix this so when we go build nations folks have a real clear reasonable expectation of the quality of people on the ground if the locals are not able yet to sustain their own security, let alone those who contract out to build schools , roads , infrastructure in general, and ngo's, and all they do in country?

My guess is that it would be more cost effective doing this "in house" than contracting out.

When Amb. Holbrook was telling about the guy who told him "I don't work for you sir." when he had a bit of a problem with him "careening around corners" on a street in Kabul, I guess this becomes everybody's problem.

Taxpayers included.

Anyway, I hope you can shed a little light on the subject from your professional perspective.

Thanks, and a peaceful Veteran's day to one and all,

EJ

John P.
|
Greece
November 12, 2010

John P. in Greece writes:

Interesting questions Eric. I’d also like to add a “childish” one.

When you guys say MARINES, do you also mean SEALs?

Some time ago, I was reading (here) a wonderful post concerning the evacuation of an American embassy in “somewhere” Africa (local crisis – I don’t remember the area) and the Author had described the efforts Seals had given in order to protect the compound (diplomatic residencies).

I mean he/she was referring to our heroes as SEALs.

Is it the same? Is the Marine I see in the photo of this post a SEAL school “graduate”, or American embassies use both?

I don’t want to interrupt security. If my question is silly, either don’t post it, or (anyone who can answer it) don’t give me a reply.

I know that these issues are a little “sensitive”.

John P.
|
Greece
November 13, 2010

John P. in Greece writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico

I absolutely agree with the “in house”. However, we should define some parameters concerning the “outside”.

I think that you cannot have “in house” (let’s call it) “cats” outside the embassy –at least officially (CHUCKLE). So, in some cases you have to use private “tools”.

Maybe the solution is a bit in the middle of “the house”.

But you made me think of the obvious! I told you: Great questions!

Why plenty of countries around the world do not provide the appropriate and logistically necessary local police to protect the U.S. diplomatic missions, outside “the embassy”?

When they come to Washington, Secret Service offer them THE ABSOLUTE PROTECTION & SECURITY,

Why don’t they do the same for US?

I think this question can lead to a cost effective solution of the “outside” too!

But I am not an expert…

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
November 13, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ John,

Seals are Special Forces in the Navy.

But it makes me think that perhaps the answer to my own question may be to create a hybrid branch of the "armed services" of these U.S. branches of gov. to be devoted to the specific mission of securing the USAID/DoS civilian mission in a foreign country in conflict.

DOD/DoS security where the best elements of both are combined in a purely defensive posture.

That puts all the so called "contractor"'s personel under one roof with government accountability, training, and deployment.

Just a thought that the ranks of Diplomatic Security in DoS should be increased in numbers, but their mission as such should remain as described (to protect diplomats).

In any new undertaking in crisis, normal parameters of responsibility get stretched wherby the phrase "mission creep" comes into play and it takes time to define and refine the state of "who's in charge" sometimes.

You end up having folks in the field doing double and triple duty beyond their traditional jobs and out of necessity because of the need on the ground.

But that's not an efficiant nor desirable state of affairs for the long-term, and I would think probably every agency and Dept would agree with that.

I'm not an expert at all on this, just an objective observer.

Folks in the US gov. are in agreement with Karzai that things need to change significantly and so I'm sure a lot of folks are working this issue from all sides of it.

I just toss my 5 cents worth into the mix here and see what happens to such an investment.

Maybe it will help, I don't know...

.

Latest Stories

Pages