Tempo ramps up for safety guard Marines as COVID restrictions fall

The Marine Safety Guard Augmentation Unit is on observe to execute a full load of deployments for the primary time because the begin of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And because the unit matures, different Marine components are beginning to take higher discover of its work.

“We’re on observe to execute roughly 70 missions this 12 months, which is able to return us to our operational tempo pre-COVID ranges,” Col. Kelly Frushour, commanding officer of Marine Corps Embassy Safety Group, informed Marine Corps Occasions in an interview.

Frushour, a profession public affairs officer, grew to become the primary girl to guide the Marine Corps Embassy Safety Group when she took command in June.

Pandemic journey restrictions and host nation limitations had severely curtailed the Marine Safety Guard Augmentation Unit’s typical excessive deployment tempo.

The unit, established in 2013 following the lethal assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, exists to shore up embassy safety amid menace or unrest.

However 13-Marine groups additionally frequently deploy to embassies forward of VIP visits and to conduct proactive safety validation assessments. In a typical 12 months, groups are deploying nearly consistently to enhance the 183 Marine safety detachments at embassies in 148 international locations.

“The typical dwell time between MSAU missions is about seven-and-a-half days,” Frushour stated.

From a excessive of 92 missions in 2017, nevertheless, Marine Safety Guard Augmentation Unit groups did simply 22 in 2020 as COVID-19 swept the world.

In 2021, Frushour stated, the Marine Safety Guard Augmentation Unit had 36 deployments. The unit has surpassed that quantity already in 2022.

Thus far, Marine Safety Guard Augmentation Unit groups have deployed practically 500 occasions because the unit stood up, with bigger contingents pushing out to help embassy evacuations or to ramp up safety in locations with threats of violence.

In 2016, a 40-Marine contingent pushed out to Juba, South Sudan, because the embassy evacuated nonessential workers amid threats of a civil battle.

Marine Safety Guard Augmentation Unit Marines, who differ from Fleet Antiterrorism Safety Groups (FAST) in that they’re thought-about diplomatic belongings and immediately conscious of the wants of the State Division, do obtain extra coaching than common Marine Safety Guard watchstanders, which has supplied the possibility to remain busy in the course of the deployment stoop.

Marine Safety Guard Augmentation Unit-assigned Marines get seven additional weeks in of coaching in marksmanship, medical expertise, communication and techniques, in addition to a two-week collective coaching cycle on the International Affairs Safety Coaching Heart in Blackstone, Virginia, which incorporates the Division of State’s Excessive Threat Atmosphere Firearms Course and enhanced room clearing.

They’re additionally supplied the possibility to take seven elective superior particular person expertise programs in subjects equivalent to international weapons instruction, survival, evasion, resistance and escape, or SERE, and counter-threat driving.

Because the unit approaches its ten-year anniversary, the Marine Safety Guard Augmentation Unit is changing into a extra well-known and established functionality contained in the Marine Corps ― and that’s main to higher collaboration with different items who’ve been much less accustomed to what it provides up to now.

Particularly, Frushour stated, she is seeing the leaders of deployed Marine Expeditionary Units pay extra consideration to when Marine Safety Guard Augmentation Unit groups are dispatched of their area.

“If MSAU is getting despatched someplace, it may be an indicator of issues possibly not going effectively in that a part of the world, and [a MEU commander] can put people on alert: ‘Hey, this is happening, we would should go do one thing to assist,’” Frushour stated. “So extra items are beginning to use MSAU deployments as an data requirement to arrange for what they could get requested to do.”

Marine Safety Guard Augmentation Unit and the bigger embassy safety group have additionally been conducting extra built-in coaching with a spread of items from Marine Expeditionary Operations Coaching Teams to MEUs and diplomatic safety and international affairs personnel.

“Contemplating latest occasions with Kabul and Kyiv, it’s more and more important to strengthen and rehearse our interagency interoperability,” Frushour stated. “Whereas our core coaching and readiness focuses on the MSG mission that permits them to face ‘Put up One’ and all different mission particular posts whereas reacting to emergencies and threats, our headquarters has coordinated priceless engagements with the interagency and joint drive in coaching, mission rehearsal workouts, and deployment certifications.”

Whereas regular operations have largely resumed for all Marine safety guards, there are nonetheless a number of nations and diplomatic areas, largely within the Pacific, that don’t enable area commanders to go to deployed Marine safety detachments. Usually, detachments get a number of visits per 12 months, which provides Marines the possibility to carry up considerations and get direct mentorship.

One regional commander, Frushour stated, had magnets made and distributed to his Marines containing a QR code along with his contact data and a promise that he’d reply any request inside 24 hours.

“I feel that was rather well acquired there,” she stated. “So there was some creativity in ensuring that Marines know that, regardless that we’re not bodily there, you’re nonetheless in our ideas each day … our whole goal in life is ensuring that they’re arrange to do that mission that we’ve got assigned them to do.”

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