USMC Involvement in Recent Actions in Egypt and Libya


2012-09-19 As is far too typical of the global media, “facts” are asserted but not proven. 

A recent example is various claims about USMC actions during recent flare ups in Libya and Egypt.

Here is a good corrective provided by the USMC.


The Ambassador did not impose restrictions on weapons or weapons status on the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group (MCESG) detachment.

The MCESG Marines in Cairo were allowed to have live ammunition in their weapons.  The Ambassador and Regional Security Officer have been completely and appropriately engaged with the security situation. Reports of Marines not being able to have their weapons loaded per direction from the Ambassador are not accurate.

The Marine Corps does not establish Rules of Engagement (ROE). Nonetheless, ROE is classified and release of that information would jeopardize the Marines and U.S. interests.  Any further inquiry should be directed to the State Department, since Marine security guards report to the ambassador not to a military commander.

As reported in open sources, approximately 2000 personnel were protesting outside the U.S. Embassy and six individuals entered Embassy grounds.  The Marines quickly took control of these six individuals and subsequently turned them over to local security officials.

There were no Marines injured in this, or other actions in Cairo.

There are no Marine dependents in Cairo.


Contrary to open source reporting, there are no Marines currently stationed at the Embassy in Tripoli, or the Consulate in Benghazi.

There were no Marines killed in the attack on the Consulate in Benghazi.


The American Embassy in Sana’a, Yemen has a MCESG reinforced with a Marine security force. Due to operational security, we are not at liberty to provide additional details at this time.

Marine Corps Embassy Security Guards (MCESG):

Embassy security in Tripoli and the consulate in Benghazi fall under the Regional Security Officer with the State Department.  The U.S. maintains over 285 diplomatic facilities worldwide.  MCESG provides 152 security detachments provide internal security at designated U.S. diplomatic and consular facilities in order to prevent the compromise of classified material vital to the national security of the United States.  Perimeter security is the responsibility of the host nation police/security forces.

AMEMB Tripoli does not have a MCESG detachment.  Typically, when a new embassy is established, it takes time to grow a new MCESG detachment.  In coordination with the State Department, there was discussion about establishing a detachment in Tripoli sometime in the next five years.  Overall, the plan is to grow the number of MCESG detachments worldwide to 173.

The size of a MCESG detachment depends on the size of the Embassy and the security situation on the ground.  They normally range anywhere from 5-20+ Marines in size.  MCESG can, and have, provided security at Consulates as well as Embassies.  For example, Marines guard the US Consulate in Hong Kong and, in the past, have guarded the US Consulate in addition to the Embassy in Haiti.

The decision as to which consulates receive this augmented security lies with the State Department.  State identifies its requirements and DOD/Marines work to provide it.  A U.S. Ambassador serving in an unstable region can/will normally have a security detail provided by the State Departments Diplomatic Security Corps.  State has agents specially trained to provide personal security details (similar to the Secret Service).

Fleet Anti-Terrorism Support Team (FAST):

A FAST platoon deployed to Libya yesterday (12 Sep 12) to provide security for the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli.  Established in 1987, FAST platoons provide a limited-duration, expeditionary security force to protect vital naval and national assets.  FAST companies maintain forward-deployed platoons at various naval commands around the globe and possess U.S.-based alert forces capable of rapidly responding to unforeseen contingencies worldwide.  FAST is not designed to provide a permanent security force for installations.

FAST platoons are primarily designed to conduct defensive combat operations, military security operations, and rear area security operations in response to approved requests in support of geographic combatant and fleet commanders.  When deployed to reinforce embassies with existing MCESG detachments, FAST platoons will customarily provide an outer cordon of security inside the embassy compound, while MCESG Marines maintain security of the chancery proper, and host nation police/security forces provide an outer cordon of security beyond embassy grounds.

NOTE:  Although a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) has traditionally been forward deployed to the Mediterranean (2.5 MEU forward deployment-1 x east coast MEU to the Med, 1 x west coast MEU to the Pacific, and the 31st MEU forward based out of Okinawa, Japan), there is currently no MEU presence in the Mediterranean.  The Marine Corps currently maintains a 1.5 MEU presence forward deployed.  We currently have the 24th MEU from the east coast deployed to the Persian Gulf, a west coast MEU is conducting work-ups for deployment, and the 31st MEU is operating from Okinawa.