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PANEL FIVE—Marine Security Guards Today. “I have an unqualified respect for their dedication, discipline and devotion.”
—A U.S. Consul in Africa talking about the Marine Security Guards

Marine Security Guards Represent the Face of America. MSGs stationed at an embassy entrance literally represent the face of America to members of the diplomatic community and citizens of the host country. They are a symbol of American values of integrity, courage, loyalty, and commitment. Today, more than 1,300 officers and enlisted Marines are assigned to the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group at Quantico, Virginia; to its Regional Commands; and to the Marine Security Guard detachments located at U.S. embassies and consulates around the globe.

Standing duty 24 hours each day, seven days a week, at U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide, Marine Security Guards help protect U.S. Government classified information and equipment. The Marines help protect the embassy during a range of crises, including demonstrations, bomb threats, fires, nuclear/biological/chemical threats, and direct attacks.

MSGs also control access within U.S. missions. They conduct inspections to ensure that classified information is secure, and they monitor surveillance devices and fire alarms. They are the focal point for all post emergency communications.

TIMELINE: A series of deadly assaults directed against U.S. embassies and other official facilities, including the 1983 bombings of American Embassies in Beirut and Kuwait, and the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut, led to substantial, urgent reinforcement of security efforts in volatile areas like the Middle East. From the State Department Office of Security, the new Bureau of Diplomatic Security created by Congress in 1986 was an even larger and more robust security and law enforcement operation. The vital security partnership between DS and the U.S. Marine Corps became more critical than ever.
April 1983: An MSG safeguards classified material, protects survivors, and monitors rescue teams amid rubble from the U.S. Embassy in Beirut following an attack by a suicide bomber. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo)

August 1983: U.S. Marines guarding the temporary U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, close the door against an incoming group of demonstrators. Later the Marines came under heavy fire. (AP/Wide World Photo)

October 1983: The massive terrorist bomb attack on the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, destroyed the facility and killed 241 U.S. service members. Although not an MSG facility, it was a grievous loss to the USMC and U.S. Government. (AP/Wide World Photo)

January 1989: A U.S. Marine sergeant removes the American flag from a U.S. Embassy jeep in Kabul as remaining U.S. diplomats and staff depart Afghanistan, at the closing of the U.S. mission in the embattled Afghan capital. (AP/Wide World Photo)

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future