This Veterans Day, we in the Department of State take a moment to recognize our Marine Security Guards, past and present, whose dedication to duty has cemented a highly successful partnership between the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Marine Corps.
The U.S. Department of State conducts American foreign policy. The U.S. Marine Corps is America's global, expeditionary force-in-readiness. Through the Marine Security Guard program, our venerable institutions stand together as a solid force for American diplomacy.
Since 1948, Marine Security Guards (MSGs) have served as a critical adjunct to our own Diplomatic Security Service, ensuring U.S. diplomacy can operate securely and unimpeded. The MSG mission is to prevent the compromise of classified U.S. Government information and equipment vital to the national security of the United States; to provide internal security services at designated U.S. diplomatic facilities; and, when necessary, to help protect U.S. citizens and U.S. Government property located at designated U.S. diplomatic facilities.
In the event of a direct attack, MSGs delay the aggressors long enough to help destroy classified information and equipment. They respond to a range of other crises as well, including demonstrations, bomb threats, fires, nuclear/biological/chemical threats, and natural disasters.
MSGs have stood side by side with State Department personnel through many crises, including terrorist bombings and attacks on U.S. embassies and consular posts. In such emergencies, the MSG response has been focused, fast, and professional.
MSGs also have protected State Department classified information and equipment against anti-American riots and demonstrations, and have helped evacuate U.S. diplomats and their families. MSGs have extinguished fires in U.S. embassies and helped save countless lives of U.S. Government personnel threatened by civil unrest, earthquakes, and floods.
Today, MSGs provide internal security for 154 U.S. embassies and consulates in 141 countries around the world. More than 1,300 officers and enlisted Marines are assigned to the program. Standing at "Post One" in our diplomatic facilities abroad, MSGs are usually the first person that U.S. Government personnel see in the morning and the last they see at night as they depart our embassies and consulates. MSGs also represent the face of America to members of the diplomatic community and citizens of the host country -- a most important aspect in itself.
The courage and support of the MSGs have been constant in every situation. Time and time again, Marine Security Guards have lived up to the Marine Corps credo, "Semper Fidelis." They have, in fact, always remained faithful to protecting American diplomacy.
Their professionalism and dedication, and performance under pressure has established a truly noble tradition of safeguarding the conduct of U.S. diplomacy. The Department of State could have no finer partner than the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group to execute this solemn duty.
For their dedication and service to the Department and to the nation, we in the U.S. State Department pay special tribute to our Marine Security Guards, our "Ambassadors in Blue," on this Veterans Day, 2011.