PANEL TWO—Tradition. “The Marines and our diplomacy are tightly intertwined...Strength and diplomacy go together.”
—Secretary of State George P. Shultz, May 11, 1984
Supporting State Department Efforts Worldwide. The Marine Corps and the State Department have forged one of the most important and enduring relationships that exists between two U.S. Government entities. Historically, U.S. Marines have been detailed on occasion as a security force escorting U.S. diplomatic personnel; they have helped defend American embassies and consulates in emergencies; and they have provided unique support for diplomacy in various places throughout the world.
The origins of the present-day Marine Security Guard program are rooted in the World War II era, when Marine detachments helped secure U.S. diplomatic missions in certain threatened venues, including England and China. After World War II, it was decided that an alert, disciplined force was needed to help with protection at U.S. diplomatic missions throughout the world. The U.S. Marine Corps stepped forward and the Marine Security Guard program was formed, ultimately becoming a prestigious assignment in the Corps.
Marine Security Guards have participated in the internal security and protection of U.S. embassies and consulates (or “posts”) on a formal basis since late 1948.
TIMELINE: The U.S. Marine Corps has a long history of cooperation with the U.S. Department of State, going back to the early days of the nation. Since before the raising of the United States flag in Tripoli in 1805, and the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900, U.S. Marines have served many times on special security missions for U.S. embassies and legations, and to protect American citizens in unsettled areas overseas.
1948-1960: The formal, full-time assignment of Marines as U.S. diplomatic security guards overseas began with the first joint Memorandum of Agreement between the Department of the Navy and the Department of State, signed on December 15, 1948. The first Marine Security Guards arrived in Morocco and Thailand early in 1949.
1937: U.S. Marines guard the entrance to the U.S. Embassy compound in China. (AP/Wide World Photo)
1949: Marine Security Guard Detachment at Athens, Greece, stands with the U.S. State Department Regional Security Officer (left). (U.S. Marine Corps Photo)
1953: The U.S. Ambassador to Italy cuts a cake with a sword to celebrate the 178th anniversary of the U.S. Marine Corps at the U.S. Embassy in Rome. (AP/Wide World Photo)