Special thanks to former Marine Richard Wojewnik for writing this article for SOFREP! -Jack

In response to the deadly attack in September, 2012 on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Congress has called for 1,000 new Marine Security Guards (MSG) to provide additional protection for U.S. diplomatic facilities around the world. With 1,200 Marine security guards currently assigned to more than 140 countries, this will nearly double the amount of MSGs. What used to be called the Marine Security Guard Battalion is now the Marine Corps Security Group (MCESG).

In 1948, the Marine Security guard program was established through a Memorandum of Agreement between the Department of State and the Marine Corps, and 83 Marines volunteered to become the first Marine security guards. Today, Marine embassy security duty is the only Special Duty Assignment (SDA) in the Marine Corps that remains a completely volunteer assignment.

Women Marines were first put on the MSG program back in 1978. They were then phased out by the Marine Corps because of the Tehran embassy takeover in 1979, and by 1981 the last few WMs were gone. The Marine Corps, not the State Department, did not like the idea of a WM being taken hostage, though there were no WMs in Tehran. Women Marines have been since been brought back to the program in 1988 by the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Alfred M. Gray.

MSG duty is the only place in the Marine Corps where an enlisted Marine holds the title of detachment commander. Staff NCOs (E-6 and above) who qualify are trained to lead a detachment of 5 to 25 Marines. Staff NCOs can be married and they must meet the same requirements as a watchstander, another term used on the program for a Marine security guard. And he must have completed all required professional military education for the grade held and have 24 months time left in service.

Once accepted into the program, a watchstander will serve for three tours in three different countries for a period of 12 months each. Detachment commanders serve 18 month tours in two different countries.

Today the MCESG has additional Marines in what is called the MSG Security Augmentation Unit (MSAU) which was brought on-line recently at MCB Quantico and the first three squads became operational in August.

According to MCESG recruiting, the MSAU has all the same qualities of a typical MSG detachment, but operates like a Quick Reaction Force. Eventually the MSAU will have nine squad sized teams and will serve as a back up force that can be deployed to an embassy or consulate to provide reinforcement at the request of the State Department.