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.
For more information:
- Read about the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group.
- View photos from the "Partners in Diplomacy," Diplomatic Security Marine Security Guard Photo Exhibit.