PANEL EIGHT—Today’s Security Challenge: Terrorism. “It’s a much more difficult security environment. The threat matrix is much more complex. The world has changed.”
—U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton November 17, 2010
MSGs stood side by side with the State Department through horrific events like the bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in 1998, and when terrorists attacked the U.S. Consulate in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, in 2004. The MSG response to the latter attack was focused, fast, and professional; it helped stop the attackers from entering the consulate building, undoubtedly saving many lives.
This mission is more important than ever in the current threat environment. Determined terrorists will not hesitate to harm innocent citizens, including professional diplomats, at any vulnerable location in the world.
Time and time again, Marine Security Guards have lived up to the Marine Corps motto, “Semper Fidelis.” They have, in fact, always remained faithful to protecting American diplomacy.
Attacks on U.S. Embassies in Africa. On August 7, 1998, al-Qaida terrorists detonated bombs simultaneously at two U.S. Embassies in Africa, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. A total of 229 individuals, including an MSG in Nairobi, were killed in the attacks; and nearly 5,000 were wounded. It was among the worst acts of terrorism ever directed against U.S. diplomatic facilities. In response, the Department of State expedited its massive program to harden U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide, and Diplomatic Security substantially upgraded counterterrorism measures at all diplomatic facilities.
TIMELINE: The purposes and benefits underlying DS-MSG teamwork are clearer and broader than at any point in history. Partnership at a diplomatic post extends not only to mission security — the most important priority of all — but also to cooperation in a variety of social and charitable events year-round.
December 2005: U.S. Marines stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Uganda unload donations at Entebbe Airport from a United States private sector charity for the Banunule orphanage. (AP/Wide World Photo)
December 2004: MSGs raise the American flag over U.S. Consulate Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, after a failed assault on the compound. Both the MSG on Post 1 and the acting detachment commander received Bronze Stars with “V” devices for valor; and the remainder of the detachment received awards for their action as well. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo)
July 2011: An angry Syrian mob attacks U.S. Embassy Damascus in Syria. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo)
September 11, 2006: Members of the U.S. Marines stand during a ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador, El Salvador, in honor of the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks, on the fifth anniversary of the event. (AP/Wide World Photo)