September 2018

The Marine Security Guard Program

Interchanging training and experience amongst the Department of Defense and Department of State
Volume 102, Issue 9
MRs pratice self-defense techniques at Camp Foster, Okinawa.
LCpl Brennan Priest

Military Police Marines (MPs) are ideal candidates for the Marine Security Guard (MSG) program. This assertion is based on initial and sustainment training, duties performed in MP billets at bases and stations as well as abroad, and duties performed by MSGs at diplomatic posts. MP and MSG training, employment, and experience are mutually supporting (see Table 1). MPs would gain training and on-the-job experience from their time as MSGs and would be able to provide the knowledge gained from MSG duty directly to their follow-on garrison or expeditionary MP assignment. MPs should be provided a direct line into the MSG program as its source for manning. The MP occupational field’s manning should be bolstered in order to incorporate MSG assignments into the MP career path and unit assignments.

An MP Colonel Command

Currently, the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group (MCESG) is a slated regimental command opportunity for colonels, and the MP community’s command opportunities stop at lieutenant colonel. In order to adjust the organization while incorporating MSG duty into the career path, MCESG (still under Plans, Policies & Operations, HQMC, as the MP occupational field is in the Security Division) should be expanded into a 58XX organization like any other Provost Marshal’s Office (PMO) or law enforcement battalion. MPs would source the headquarters company key billets with appropriate staff enabler Marines and in the same way that they source a law enforcement Battalion. MPs would also source the MSG schoolhouse in concert with currently assigned Diplomatic Security Services (DSS) personnel to maintain currency in DSS tactics, techniques, and procedures. The instructor advisors would be MPs with prior MSG experience or currently assigned MSG detachment commanders until enough MP detachment commander throughputs occur to assign MPs to the instructor advisor positions. Additionally, the Marine Security Augmentation Unit, the MCESG’s proactive organic reinforcement capability, would be sourced by MPs like any other MCESG region or detachment. In total, this would require the MP manning requirement to increase by about 2,000.

Career Path

An example career path for enlisted and officer MPs that incorporates current MSG assignments into their occupational field is shown in Table 2. It provides the opportunity for resident PME, exposure to garrison and operational MP units, a variety of station assignments, and command opportunities. Overall, it provides the MP the opportunity to train, develop Marines, and lead at varying levels on each side as well as mutually supporting returns on the investment.

In order to incorporate the MSG program into the MP occupational field, MSG duty would be considered a regular MP assignment, and the MP would maintain the opportunity to serve in traditional B-billets later.

Regarding officers, Marines who have already received the training and been provided opportunities to practice and teach their law enforcement craft should be employed as region inspecting officers or commanders, placing them in a position to train and educate Marines in addition to conducting the required checklist-based inspection. Other Marine officers are already positioned to do this, but without the practical background, knowledge, or experience of the tasks and mission of an inspecting officer, training mostly focuses on practical inspection.

Basic Training

MP and MSG initial trainings have the same foundations and focuses. Although the MSG training is heavily influenced by Department of State and DSS training curriculum, MPs and the DSS have evolved concurrently within the current law enforcement community.

Although MPs train at Fort Leonard Wood, MO, (home of the U.S. Army Military Police Corps) and MSGs train at MCB Quantico, VA, under separate syllabi and missions, they share many similarities. Table 1 depicts skills trained at entry-level MP school and at the MSG schoolhouse. A key takeaway is that MPs are trained to perform the majority of MSG tasks right out of MP School and have exposure to those tasks leading up to the time that they would be eligible to participate in the MSG program. The majority of Marines who currently join the MSG program are not exposed to those skills until they report for school. If assignment to MCESG were made part of an MP’s career path, it would significantly reduce the training time before assignment to a diplomatic post requiring the knowledge of DSS defensive tactics, security equipment, and MSG specific collateral duties, as outlined in Table 1.

Follow-On Training Opportunities

While assigned to PMOs or law enforcement battalions, MPs could further refine the skills learned at MP School and take on additional specialty training, like special reaction team and special reaction team marksman observer, which is comparable to a civilian police department’s special weapons and tactics training. These schools greatly expand the MP’s ability to conduct a precise tactical response to a myriad of threats at a level greater than MSG/Department of State basic or advanced training. This would increase the MP’s overall response ability when reacting to intruders.

Other training opportunities for MPs are Physical Security, Anti-Terrorism Basic/Advanced, and Intelligence in Combating Terrorism Schools. Following these schools, MPs should be able to identify the risks, criticality, and vulnerabilities of bases, stations, and expeditionary places like forward operating bases and combat outposts. They should be able to gather information directly applicable to U.S. embassy/consulate compounds. This knowledge would reinforce their ability to draft plans to identify an enemy’s most likely and probable course of action, how it could affect their location, and how to prepare and respond.

MSGs are provided regular and intensive local detachment sustainment training augmented by experts from the DSS’s Mobile Security Detachment, Special Operations Forces Liaison Teams, other DOD elements, and host-nation security forces. Additionally, select MSGs are provided the opportunity to undergo additional Marine Corps and DSS tactical training opportunities when selected for assignment to the Marine Security Augmentation Unit.

MSG Mission

While stationed at diplomatic missions across the world, MSGs are expected to maintain awareness of the security situation on and about their compound, provide access control to the chancery, react to a spectrum of events, conduct security roves, and act as a command and control node for the mission. Specifically, they are to

provide protection to mission personnel and prevent the compromise of national security information and equipment at designated diplomatic and consular facilities. Marine Security Guards will be prepared to execute plans for the protection of the mission and its personnel as directed by the chief of mission or principal officer through the regional security officer.1

It’s notable here that the next operational commander above the MSG detachment commander is the regional security officer, a law enforcement professional more akin to MPs.

MP Mission

            In garrison:

To provide access control and a law enforcement capability for Marine Corps [bases]. To protect the lives, property, and rights of all residents, to maintain order, and to enforce the UCMJ, State, and Federal regulations.2

            In operational forces:

Conduct law and order operations in order to enhance the security environment and promote the rule of law in support of MAGTF operations,3

to include

law enforcement, policing, police advising/training, and limited detention/correction, patrol/incident response operations, route regulation/enforcement, investigations, Joint Prosecution and Exploitation Center operations, Tactical Site Exploitation, identity operations/biometrics support, Protective Services operations, Military Working Dog operations, police intelligence, physical security and crime prevention expertise/assessments, accident investigations, customs/border clearance support operations, and Military Police support to civil authorities.4

Gaining Experience

While stationed with a PMO, an MP has the opportunity to practice the skills trained at MP School and follow-on schools while working patrol, to include conducting security checks, responding to calls for service, ensuring appropriate access and entry control points, executing command and control duties, monitoring base wide alarm systems, and operating installation closed circuit television at the desk/dispatch. An MSG has the opportunity to conduct security inspections, conduct reacts, ensure Post 1 access controls, operate Post 1 radio traffic/phone calls/emergency reporting, monitor access alarms, and sustain the awareness of activity via compound closed circuit television.

The MP has the opportunity to practice many of the same duties an MSG is expected to perform over the course of years, while the MSG only has nine weeks of preparation and a significant requirement for on-the-job training once he arrives at his first post.

While stationed with a law enforcement battalion, the MP gets to further refine the tactical aspects of the job, to include patrolling, marksmanship, maneuver, communications, and law enforcement specialties like forensics, investigations, detention operations, and military working dog employment. He may also be assigned to his installation PMO once during his tour via the fleet assistance program in order to practice and sustain his garrison law enforcement skills, which directly transfer to MSG duties.

One of the greater benefits for an MP coming from a law enforcement battalion to the MSG is the SNCO (future detachment commander) leadership opportunities available to him. Very often, along with a second or first lieutenant, SNCOs lead scalable law enforcement detachments that are about the same size as an MSG detachment.

Additionally, law enforcement battalions have conducted refuel/defuel security missions and embassy reinforcement missions, which are similar to the Marine Security Augmentation Unit deployments that MCESG use to conduct proactive augmentation/posturing.

Ultimately, as MCESG begins to look for to lance corporals, instead of the traditional corporal and sergeant, as potential MSGs, it must be taken into account that an MP lance corporal with one and a half years’ time in service will have more practical experience and be more prepared to execute the duties of an MSG than a three year from another combat service support MOS.

Return on Investment

MPs who serve on MSG duty can later apply their training and experiences to their primary MOS. It’s unlikely that the other combat service support MOSs will be expected to utilize defensive tactics, use deadly force, write reports, establish and execute control points, or conduct searches. There is a direct return on investing three years outside the MPs’ traditional primary MOS track; the MP will return with a greater perspective on law enforcement as well as security operations abroad.


Regular career progression requirements can still be met for MSGs stationed abroad (three separate one-year posts at different diplomatic missions). Currently, corporals attend the resident Corporal’s Course post-MSG School graduation, and sergeants are sent on temporary additional duty to Quantico to attend the resident Sergeant’s Course. SNCO detachment commanders are usually expected to be PME complete prior to a Detachment Commander’s Course. Region first sergeants at a slated lieutenant colonel command are regularly provided the opportunity to attend senior-enlisted PME while assigned to a regional headquarters if they have not already attended. MP officers can complete non-resident PME requirements like Expeditionary Warfare School with little difficulty, considering travel and administrative workloads.


MPs are more likely to succeed as MSGs because they have received the majority of the same training and, most importantly, have already had an opportunity to perform many of the same tasks in garrison and abroad. They have already been exposed to a multitude of scenarios that MSGs are likely to experience during their tour and are predisposed to the requirements early in their career, which ensures that a seasoned law enforcement professional is providing top-notch security to missions that require the highest standard.


1. “MCESG Mission,” Marine Corps Embassy Security Group, available at

2. LCpl Ben McDonald, “PMO’s Diverse Military Background Offers Unique Experiences,” Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, (Online: 27 October 2016), available at

3. “2nd Law Enforcement Battalion: Information Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, NC; Mission Statement,” available at

4. Ibid.

Maj Johnston is currently serving with the 1st Marine Division Headquarters G-3 as the Law Enforcement Integration Officer.