A Salute to Marine Security Guards

Posted by Michael Coady
November 11, 2009
Iwo Jima Memorial at Sunrise

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!



Tennessee, USA
November 11, 2009

Jessica in Tennessee writes:

Thank you so much for serving our country as Marine Security Guards at our Embassies. Be safe and thank you sooo very much for your service.

Virginia, USA
November 11, 2009

Aaron in Virginia writes:


Thanks very much for your post. As a State Department FSO, I join you in paying tribute to the men and women of the United States Marine Corps. You mentioned Nairobi, Dar, and Jeddah as places where Marine Security Guards (MSG) have served honorably. I'd like to mention one other embassy of note: Tehran.

A few years ago, I had an opportunity to attend a gathering of the MSG Detachment who served at our embassy in Tehran, Iran, in 1979. Those brave Marines were among the 53 Americans held hostage for 444 days. The keynote speaker at the dinner was a MSG who recounted his experiences during that harrowing year of captivity. His speech served as a reminder that our Marines remain "always faithful" to the end, and deserve our thoughts and prayers.

Not just on Veterans day, but every day.



District Of Columbia, USA
November 11, 2009

Anna in Washington, DC writes:

God bless our Marines and all Americans serving overseas. We thank you and salute you!

Nebraska, USA
November 12, 2009

Kelsey in Nebraska writes:

I just wanted to say that my baby brother is a MSG currently serving in Tokyo. He has had his fair share of what I would think is scary embassy duties already at a tender age of 22. He just recently got to Tokyo after a year over in Kabul. I feared everyday for him, but I know he is a very smart man and that the Marines train him very well for all that he needs to know and I am VERY proud to call him my brother. He has always put the safety and thought of others before himself. So if anyone knows Sgt. Kaiser tell him his family is VERY proud of him!

Virginia, USA
November 12, 2009

Donald in Virginia writes:


What did President John F. Kennedy once say, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country! The United States Marines answer the call of duty, proud and trained Warriors! They have the toughest training and well equipt to handle any crisis foreign or domestic to serve our Armed Forces. I believe they are tough as nails and have our Admiration for the work they do in the field. "Gunhoe and brave" above all they have the courage under fire that keeps Freedom Alive!

God bless the United States Marine Corps and the United States Navy "Iron men and wooden ships" 21 GUN SALUTE!!!


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