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PANEL SIX—Marine Security Guard Training. “As an instructor at the MSG School we push them to the limit, we try to get them to their breaking point, and then we push them a little further.”
—Gunnery Sergeant Trevor Johnson

More than 450 MSGs annually are trained for embassy and consulate duty at the Marine Security Guard School in Quantico, Virginia, a joint Marine Corps and State Department training facility. DS provides instructors on security topics, the function of diplomatic missions, DS worldwide security programs, and the security environment of nations within which MSGs will be serving.

All MSGs receive response training which includes tactics, techniques, and procedures required to prepare for and respond to man-made and natural disasters. MSGs also complete DS specialized training in use of firearms, defensive tactics, technical and physical security equipment, emergency first aid, fire response, improvised explosive detection and destruction of controlled material.

All the technical security equipment utilized by the MSG students is provided by DS and is identical to the security systems that the MSGs will operate at U.S. embassies or consulates abroad. This equipment includes cutting-edge technologies used to detect and stop unauthorized entries.

At a U.S. embassy or consulate, the RSO plays a paramount, integral role in encouraging, supporting, and participating in Marine Security Guards’ continuous in-service training.


The 1990s was a decade of extraordinary global change: the collapse of the Soviet Union, newly developing democratic institutions in Eastern Europe, the ongoing rise of Japan as a global economic power, and major ethnic conflict and human rights abuses in the former Yugoslav Republic, for example. The decade also saw a dramatic increase in acts of international terrorism, including those directed at diplomatic facilities and personnel by ideological and political fanatics. The horrific August 7, 1998, bombings of U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania by al-Qaida terrorists — “Diplomatic Security’s 9/11”— resulted in 229 deaths, including that of Marine Sergeant Jesse Aliganga, an MSG assigned to the U.S. mission

in Nairobi, Kenya. This experience and others demonstrated that missions anywhere can fall victim to terrorist assaults, and led to a hardening of security precautions and defenses at all U.S. diplomatic missions abroad.

1990s: U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright speaks at the 50th anniversary of the signing

of the Memorandum of Agreement between the State Department and the Marine Corps. (U.S. Department of State Photo).

U.S. Marine Security Guards in St. Petersburg, Russia, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo)

August 1998: A Marine Honor Guard lifts the flag from the casket of U.S. Embassy Nairobi bombing victim Marine Sgt. Jesse Aliganga, an MSG killed in the al-Qaida terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Kenya. (AP/Wide World Photo)
January 1999: The Commanding Officer of F Company, Marine Security Guard Battalion, presents the Purple Heart Award for wounds received in the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, the year before. (AP/Wide World Photo)

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future