Honoring our ‘Ambassadors in Blue’ on the 240th Birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps

Posted by Bill A. Miller
November 9, 2015
U.S. Marines, currently stationed in Cuba, stand at the ready for the raising of the U.S. flag over the newly reopened embassy in Havana, Cuba

As we celebrate the Marine Corps’ birthday this year, we are deeply grateful for all our valiant Marine Security Guards (MSGs) who serve as stalwart “ambassadors in blue.”

Over the past several years, Diplomatic Security (DS) has quickly evolved to counter multiple threats overseas typically at high-threat posts. The Marine Security Guard Security Augmentation Unit (MSAU), a unit of seasoned Marine Security Guards (MSG) who undergo specialized training in order to serve, has become a key part of that evolution in how we fulfill our mission of providing a safe environment for State Department personnel.

The regional security officer (right) at U.S. Embassy Bujumbura in Burundi gives directions to MSAU members upon their arrival at post to reinforce security during an unstable time in June 2015 [State Department photo].


President Barack Obama authorized the addition of 1,000 MSGs at embassies and consulates worldwide in January 2013. Since then, the State Department has worked expeditiously with the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group (MCESG) to achieve three goals: to create new detachments at select posts; increase the number of MSGs at posts that already had detachments; and launch the MSAU program to provide on-demand fortification.

For example, in response to political unrest in Erbil, Iraq, in the summer of 2014, we in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security -- in consultation with other State Department and federal government stakeholders -- deployed the MSAU to U.S. Consulate Erbil. Their mission was to bolster post security by supplementing the existing MSG Detachment, State Department local guards, U.S. security forces, and Kurdish military and police. These Marines were a welcome sight at Consulate Erbil as they provided a timely solution to the heightened security situation, and made it possible for the State Department to carry out its national security and foreign policy objectives in the region.   

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry thanks the Marine Security Guard detachment at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, on June 23, 2014 [AP Photo]

Since its inception in 2013, MSAU has deployed 54 times. In addition to times of political unrest, these units also support U.S. missions after natural disasters, during large construction projects, and for American VIP visits.

This year as we reflect on the success of this partnership between the Department of State and U.S. Marine Corps spanning more than 200 years, we thank our MSG colleagues and welcome our new crop of men and women of the MSAU as they serve alongside us and help advance diplomatic efforts overseas. 

About the Author: Bill A. Miller, who once served as a U.S. Marine Infantry Officer, now serves as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security

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Carol J.
California, USA
November 11, 2015
Having spent time at Consulates and Embassies I have a deep appreciation for there time overseas. Semper Fi
Donald C.
Rhode Island, USA
December 6, 2015
The Elite Guardians (Ambassadors in Blue) You’re found standing “In every clime and place,” In parts of the world in differing states. To a world moving at a changing pace, We are safe knowing you are at the gates. Not long that you passed through depot portals, Proclaiming your place among the finest. This here passage leads to the immortal Where all are in service to the Highest. You’re privileged to serve at the State’s request, Standing to face many of the world’s threats. Watch standing for our nations very best, Well known for their illustrious effects. Your legacy is long, since our founding, You adapt, Sea, Horse, Embassy Marines. A Mission can claim “Our Marines,” proudly, Ambassador’s claim “My Marines,” sharply. Many Secretaries of State you’ve served, With a quality to which they’d attest. Should you return they’ll faithfully reserve, For you a place at home for final rest. While at sea John Adams stood by your side, In a skirmish no better place to be. Set the exemplar that others abide, It’s the only way we stand to be free. Reagan noted a Beatitude spoke, Quoting “peacemakers” and “children of God.” Elite Guardians at the beacon of hope, Volunteers for whatever rears, on guard. No one can ever create such a hate, That can ever attempt to seal your fate. You are always in the hands of the Great, Because you’re always known to keep the faith. -Donald James Cavanaugh, M.A. Arrived at Quantico 7/80, some MSG’s were wearing t-shirts w/Elite Guardian(s) on them. I also noted in Mr. Leo Daugherty III’s book, The Marine Corps and the State Department, a citation from Washington Post, 2/’79, “Semper Fi: The Guardian Elite: Tehran on Their Minds at Marine Security Guard School.” Felt this was a fitting name and title to add a little gravitas for the past, present and future. I also had some influence from the Prayer of St. Francis, Franciscans and MSG’s have something in common they both go where most wouldn’t. I think Top said MSG’s are special. I won’t argue with that. History proves it. Semper Fi.


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