What is a Marine Security Guard?

Remember how patiently I was waiting to hear about our fate, re: Marine Security Guard duty? Yesterday J was assigned to the August 2nd class! But before I get ahead of myself, a little bit about the Marine Security Guard program (MSG).

J laying a wreath at an American WWII Cemetary in Luxembourg

Back in 1946, the Foreign Service Act granted the Secretary of the Navy the power to assign Marines as “custodians under the supervision of the senior diplomatic officer at an embassy, legation, or consulate”. The program has since grown, with Marines now serving in 148 countries and counting, where they are known as Marine Security Guards (MSGs). At each location, there are anywhere between 5 and maybe 20-30 junior Marines who serve as “watch standards”, standing guard at the entrance to the Embassy. J lovingly refers to them as glorified button pushers, but he’s allowed to say that because he was among them from 2009 to 2012, serving in Niger, Luxembourg, and Greece. Each location (called a “detachment”) also has one Detachment Commander (Det Commander), a senior enlisted Marine (E6 or above) who is basically the bossman. This time around, we’re looking forward to J being a Det Commander, as they can bring their spouse and receive a private housing assignment, among other privileges.

After applying, interviewing, and getting orders, all MSGs go through an 8-week training course at MSG School in Quantico, VA, where J will be reporting in early August. This video does a much more adequate job detailing the training process, from classroom learning to getting maced in the face.

While J suffers through 8 weeks of intensive schooling, I’ll be in my own personal hell: waiting to find out where we go. Det Commanders are assigned to two posts, each for 18 months, but you don’t find out your first post until you’re already in school. So now that we’re done waiting to find out about MSG… we’re back to waiting to find out about MSG. Joy.

Fortunately this time around we’ll have a few things to distract us, in the form of getting married, having our lives invaded to qualify for security clearances, selling our house and cars, pawning off our belongings on our families (who wants all of our plants?!), and soaking up one last summer in the southern Outer Banks. As long as I can wait for answers in a beach chair with a good book, I suppose it won’t be so bad.

Posted in MSG

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