Bureau of Diplomatic Security
February 19, 2004
The Role of Marines in Embassy Security
Marine Security Guards (MSGs) provide a 24-hour, daily cleared American presence at designated U.S. diplomatic missions around the world. Their primary mission is to prevent the compromise of classified information and equipment vital to the national security of the United States. The secondary mission of MSGs is to protect U.S. citizens and U.S. Government property located within designated diplomatic and consular premises during exigent circumstances. Under certain emergency situations, they also provide special protective services to the ambassador or chief of mission.
Currently more than 130 MSG detachments with more than 1,200 officers and enlisted men and women are assigned to diplomatic missions throughout the world. Additional MSG detachments are scheduled to activate over the next several years. Most of these new detachments will be in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.
The relationship between the Department of State and the U.S. Marine Corps is nearly as old as the corps itself. For over 200 years, Marines have served at the request of various Secretaries of State. After World War II, an alert, disciplined force was needed to protect American embassies, consulates, and legations throughout the world. In 1947, a proposal was made that the Department of War furnish Marine Corps personnel for Foreign Service guard duty under the provisions of the Foreign Service Act of 1946. A formal Memorandum of Agreement was signed between the Department of State and the Secretary of the Navy on December 15, 1948, and 83 Marines were deployed to overseas missions. During the first year of the MSG program, 36 detachments were deployed worldwide.
The Marines Security Guard Program has earned the highest respect from their Foreign Service colleagues for their professionalism and dedication to duty.