Commemorating Our Partnership With the U.S. Marine Corps

Today, we stand with our U.S. Marine colleagues all over the world to commemorate the 241st anniversary of the Corps' existence and impressive service to our nation.

Marines and diplomats have worked together since the founding of the United States. In 1949, the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Marine Corps formalized that relationship through the Marine Security Guard (MSG) program, which operates at U.S. diplomatic missions around the world. Marine Security Guards serve alongside the Department’s Diplomatic Security Service personnel, doing the essential work of helping to secure our embassies and consulates.

As we mark the Marine Corps birthday, we are looking back on 2016 -- a year that was anything but “business as usual.” Here is a quick snapshot of what we accomplished with our Marine Corps comrades:

Marine Security Group Activations and Reinforcements

Through the our joint efforts, two new Marine Security Guard detachments were mobilized at embassies in Africa and Latin America with the mission to protect U.S. diplomats and prevent the compromise of national security information. These detachments were established at U.S. Embassy Mbabane, Swaziland, in May and the U.S. Consulate General Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, in November. In addition, the Marine Security Guard Security Augmentation Unit -- which specializes in responding quickly to emergency security situations and supporting major events -- worked with our teams this summer to reinforce the U.S. Embassy Juba, South Sudan, and to ensure a safe 2016 Summit Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

DS Assistant Secretary Gregg Starr addresses the audience during the DSS Centennial ceremony at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia, June 29, 2016. [State Department Photo]

Coming Together to Commemorate Our Anniversaries

Our efforts to recognize our Marine Corps colleagues extend beyond today’s celebration of the organizations birth. For example, on July 12, the U.S. Marine Corps commemorated the DSS Centennial at a Sunset Parade at the Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima Memorial) in Arlington, Virginia. Our centennial commemorations provided several opportunities to recognize the efforts of these courageous individuals, who over the last 200 years, have helped to keep our diplomats safe and protect American interest abroad. 

Overall, the U.S. Marine Corps has remained central to our effort to provide a secure environment for the conduct of our nation’s foreign policy. This is why on June 29, the U.S. Marine Corps and Diplomatic Security Services hosted a ceremony at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia, to jointly honor the 70th anniversary of the Marine Security Guard program and our Centennial.

Cutting the ribbon at the MCESG headquarters building dedication ceremony are, left to right, ARGO Systems, LLC Chief Operating Officer Jeff Johnson; DSS Director Bill Miller; former MSG battalion commanding officer Col. William Rizzio, Ret.; MCESG commanding officer Col. Rollin D. Brewster; Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy; and Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Bailey, Quantico, Virginia, August 12, 2016. [State Department Photo]

A New Headquarters Building for U.S. Marine Corps Embassy Security Group

We at the State Department were pleased to have the opportunity to further celebrate our cooperation and strong bond, as we joined the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group in dedicating their new building and its memorial wall in Quantico, Virginia, in August. The headquarters trains and deploys personnel for 175 Marine Security Guard detachments deployed at U.S. Embassies and Consulates in 147 countries.

In addition to the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group retroactively awarded MSG ribbons to Rocky Sickmann and Bill Gallegos, who were serving at U.S. Embassy Tehran and were taken hostage with 50 other Americans when militants overran the embassy in September 1979.

Rocky Sickmann (far left) and Bill Gallegos (second from left), veterans of the 1979-’81 Iranian hostage crisis, are retroactively awarded the MSG Ribbon by Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Bailey (second from right) as Col. Rollin D. Brewster (right), commanding officer of the MCESG, stands at attention during the dedication ceremony for the MCESG headquarters building and memorial wall, Quantico, Virginia, August 12, 2016. [State Department Photo]

These are just a few examples of our ironclad partnership and invaluable relationship. Today, and every day, the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service is proud to reflect on its successful partnership with the U.S. Marine Corps. It is a relationship we value and look forward to advancing, especially against the backdrop of the peace and security challenges that we confront together daily.  With gratitude to each of our Marine Security Guard colleagues, the State Department honors the men and women who serve as “ambassadors in blue” at U.S. Embassies and Consulates around the world, making it possible for us to protect our national security and advance our diplomacy and development around the world.

About the Author: Suzanne K. Whang serves as a Public Affairs Officer in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security at the U.S. Department of State.

Editor's Note: This entry also appeared on, in our digital publication Foggy Bottom

For more Information:



Laura B.
Maine, USA
November 10, 2016
Great job to Everyone! I am Proud to be an American!!!
U.S. Marines stand ready to raise the flag during ceremony at the Ambassador's residence in Havana, Cuba, on August 14, 2015. [State Department photo]
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry thanks the Marine Security Guard detachment at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq
Secretary of State John Kerry watches as a U.S Marine uses a saber to cut a cake celebrating the Corps' 240th birthday. [State Department photo]
U.S. Marines salute and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry crosses his heart as the National Anthem is played aboard the USS San Antonio during a ceremony to celebrate the Corps' 240th birthday. [State Department photo]
Posted by Suzanne K. Whang
November 10, 2016


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