Marine Times: USMC embassy guard boost will be tough

Thank you to Jenifer Adkins for directing this story my way. AA

The Marine Corps could face significant challenges filling a congressional mandate to nearly double its number of Marine embassy security guards at a time when the service is drawing down its active-duty force.

In response to the deadly attack in September on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Congress has called for 1,000 new Marine security guards to provide additional protection for U.S. diplomatic facilities around the world. With 1,200 Marine security guards currently assigned to more than 130 countries, this would boost the total number by nearly twofold.

The additional guards would be assigned to the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group, which is based in Quantico, Va., and to regional commands and detachments at embassies, consulates and diplomatic facilities worldwide. The extra personnel would be authorized beginning fiscal year 2014, and would be available for three years.

A Marine Corps spokesman at the Pentagon, Capt. Gregory Wolf, told Marine Corps Times that the service anticipates it will be able to assess and train the enough Marines to fulfill the new requirement.

But filling manpower quotas has been a challenge even when the State Department capped the authorized number of Marine security guards at much lower levels, said Andrew Bufalo, a retired Marine master sergeant who served as a detachment commander at American embassies in the Republic of Congo and Australia. He’s the author of “Ambassadors in Blue,” a book about the Embassy Security Group. Nearly doubling its size won’t come easy, Bufalo said.

“When you look at the quality of troops you need out at the [Embassy Security Group], usually they’re the better Marines, so commanders don’t want to let them go to that duty,” he said. “Then you get to the school and you have a high attrition rate because the standards are high.”

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