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Marine Corps Embassy Security Group

 

Marine Corps Embassy Security Group

"Vigilance, Discipline, Professionalism"

Quantico, VA
If you have a Marine in your life who is considering the Marine Security Guard program, the following information is for families.

This is an “independent” duty. Like other independent duties (sometimes referred to as “B billets”), a successful tour relies on the individual Marine’s ability to function effectively, making good decisions, without constant supervision or base support. Unlike other independent duties, Marines must apply for this program, rather than being selected for it. Another difference is that this is an independent duty that stations Marines overseas.  Being successful offers career enhancement in addition to opportunities to see unique parts of the world. The Marine Security Guard program only accepts carefully screened applicants.

There are two basic billets on Marine Security Guard duty. The majority of Marine Security Guards are “Watchstanders” and are Sergeants and below. The other billet is that of Detachment Commander, which is a Staff Sergeant or above, who is responsible for commanding the Detachment at post. This is the only billet in the United States Armed Forces in which an enlisted service member is designated as “Commander”.

There are some specific requirements for this duty:

Sergeants and below who apply for this program must be single. They are required to sign a document committing to stay single during their three year term on the program. They serve as “Watchstanders”.

Marines applying who are Staff Sergeants and above are permitted to be married, and should be prepared to take their families to post with them. No single, custodial parents are permitted on the program.

Marines must be eligible for a Top Secret Clearance and their spouses must be U.S. citizens.

The school here is demanding. Marines are tasked both mentally and physically during the course, and not everyone completes the eight week school. Marines can be dropped all the way to the last week of class. Therefore, information about the Marine’s duty station is not determined until graduation is anticipated. While the unique concerns of individual families are best addressed directly, there are some concerns that are common to many families. Please review the Frequently Asked Questions page. If your specific concern is not addressed, please feel free to contact the Family Readiness Officer.

Where will the Marine be stationed?

Currently, the Marine Security Guard program supplies Marines to 179 detachments in 149 countries. More of these are remote and austere posts than not. For families of Detachment Commanders, it is especially important to note that the average post has only one Detachment Commander, and opportunities to be posted in luxurious destinations popular with tourists are the exception and not the rule.  A list of Embassies, Consulates and Legations is available athttp://www.usembassy.gov/ , though not all are stations for Marine Security Guards.

How long will Marines be on the program?

Both “Watchstanders” and “Detachment Commanders” serve three years on the program. For watchstanders (Sergeants and below), this includes three (12 month) tours at three different posts. Detachment Commanders typically serve two (18 month) tours at two different posts. Experiences can be widely divergent, from very remote, austere locations to cities comparable to major American metropolitan areas.

Does the Marine get a choice of duty stations?

No. Every student is offered an opportunity to submit a wish list based on posts available at the time of graduation. There is NO guarantee that those preferences will be honored, as the needs of the Marine Corps mission are the priority for post assignment. Additionally, the individual Marine’s strengths and weaknesses and the particular needs of available posts are part of the decision.  If a Detachment Commander is taking dependants to post, the unique structure of that family will be a consideration.  (For example, some posts do not have adequate educational support for school age children, and every effort is made to consider that need as posts are assigned.)

Can Det Commanders and their families take vehicles, pets, etc. to post?

In short, the answer to this is post specific. Because we are talking about posts in over a hundred countries, it is impossible to offer a blanket answer. Marines have an opportunity, after being assigned to a post, to ask questions and get answers prior to arranging TMO. Pet and vehicle restrictions are imposed by some countries, so preparing for alternate solutions is wise.

As the spouse of a Detachment Commander, what are some recommendations for what we should/should not plan to move to post?

Personal firearms should be left in the United States. Also, the housing available to Detachment Commanders includes furniture. While you can ship most items to post, it is important to remember that the housing available at post may not have room for both provided furniture and every piece of your own personal inventory. Any items shipped to post are the responsibility of the Marine who owns them, and if storage is required, it will be at the Marine's expense. Think in terms of what will make your new home feel like your own, and remember that items like electrical appliances will either need to accommodate the unique electrical offerings of power in that country, or use a transformer/adaptor of some sort. You are discouraged from taking items that cannot be replaced.

What do you do with possessions left behind in the U.S.?

Like any other overseas permanent change of station (PCS), there will be storage provided for household goods that fall within the weight allowance allotted to the Marine, based on his/her rank. (For example, if the Marine’s PCS move weight allowance is 11,000 pounds, and the Marine moves 3,000 pounds to post, the Marine can store up to 8,000 pounds at government expense. --These numbers are not specific to any specific case, but just an example to show how the amount stored is calculated.)

What about items already in storage because of a permanent duty station overseas? 

These items can continue in storage while on the MSG program, or, if desired, items can be withdrawn from storage and shipped to post.

Is the Marine given any leave after completing MSG school?  

Marines are strongly encouraged to take leave prior to coming to MSG school. “Watchstanders” and single Detachment Commanders are generally sent directly to post within just a few days of graduation without additional leave time. However, under normal circumstances, an outbound married Detachment Commander is given an opportunity to go home and arrange the movement of family and household goods, prior to going with his/her dependants to post.

What will the Marine’s hours be like while on post?

This is truly" post-specific". Watchstanders work shift work dependent on the number of posts within the embassy and the number of persons available to work. A new Detachment Commander should plan to work long days when newly arrived at post.  There is a learning curve affiliated with taking command of a detachment, forging a working relationship with the Regional Security Officer, getting to know the watchstanders and assessing the needs and concerns involved in executing the mission excellently. Although a Detachment Commander’s hours usually get better after the initial learning curve, this is a demanding duty. The Detachment Commander is part of a rapid reaction force and their duties can include obligations any time, day or night. After hours checks, unannounced drills, etc. are key to maintaining a ready and effective detachment.

What about medical care at post?

There are basic medical services at the Embassy Health Care Unit. The extent of more advanced services is post specific. A brief will be provided to the Marines, and to spouses who attend the spouse training, on how services can be obtained at post.

It is important to note that the Marine and all dependants must be medically screened for overseas duty, and the results of those screenings should be brought to school when the Marine initially checks into the schoolhouse.

If we take children to post, where will they go to school? 

Again, this is post specific, but there are some general points. There are educational services which support the families of Embassy personnel, including the Marine Security Guard families. This includes opportunities to have alternate arrangements if the local schools are inadequate. Most families find educational services which are age appropriate and well within the standards of United Statespublic school systems.

How does mail service work at post?

You will have mail service of some kind. This will either be an Army Post Office (APO)/Fleet Post Office (FPO)/Diplomatic Post Office (DPO) address or a “Diplomatic Pouch” address. Some locations have more than one address. It is important to note that there may be restrictions on what can be sent through the mail. Some of these may relate to the type of mail service you use, or the country through which the mail travels. It is important to know the restrictions and to follow them carefully.   

Can the significant other (not spouse) go to post with the Marine?

While the United States Marine Corps cannot prohibit a U.S. citizen from moving to a foreign country, the following should be considered. First, the Marine will have very little free time, especially when arriving at post. It is imperative to the success of that Marine that he/she not be distracted during the tour of duty. Additionally, Marines are often sent to third world countries where even minor medical situations can require expensive medical evacuations to other locations. While the United States Marine Corps and the Department of State assist with such expenses for their own personnel and dependants, there is no such assistance for citizens choosing to live abroad without such sponsorship.  Additionally, the Marine is required to live in provided housing, but this housing is not available to individuals that are not sponsored by the United States Marine Corps. Moreover, while a Marine Security Guard is usually at a given post for at least 12 months, they are subject to being moved at any time, without any notice, to cover the needs of another post.

My spouse is a Detachment Commander and I was told to stock up on necessities before leaving country, are we given extra money in advance to do so?

No. You may rate a "consumable goods shipment". Not every post rates this, but the money to purchase items for it is the responsibility of the Marine. Marines can, if they choose, request advance pay for this, but that money must be paid back over a period of time.  This shipment is intended to assist with items either unavailable, or available at a cost that is far greater, or a quality that is far less than we are accustomed to in the United States. 

I understand that there is spouse training at Quantico after graduation. I have young children.  What childcare is available?

We do not provide childcare, but can assist with obtaining childcare through the local Child Development Center and base childcare providers. Should you need this assistance, please notify the Family Readiness Officer at the earliest opportunity. It is important to note that we do not pay for childcare, but we can assist the family in obtaining it.

 

 

Jennifer Douglas

Family Readiness Officer

Marine Corps Embassy Security Group

(703) 784-4907 (office)

jennifer.douglas@usmc.mil