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Marine Corps unveils new height, fitness standards for embassy guards

Jan. 12, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Cpl. David Stickley stands watch inside Post One at the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group's schoolhouse in Quantico, Va. New rules stipulate that Marines must be at least 5 feet 4 inches tall to quality for embassy guard jobs.
Cpl. David Stickley stands watch inside Post One at the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group's schoolhouse in Quantico, Va. New rules stipulate that Marines must be at least 5 feet 4 inches tall to quality for embassy guard jobs. (Mike Morones / Staff)
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A U.S. Marine from Alert Contingency Platoon 6, 1st Fleet Anti-terrorism, Norfolk, Va., stands guard outside the U.S. embassy in support of Operation Unified Response. (Sgt. Richard Andrade / Army)


Marines wishing to become embassy security guards must meet a host of new criteria, including tougher fitness standards and minimum-height requirements, designed to match the job’s growing importance within the national security landscape.

With orders from Congress, the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group is adding 1,000 Marine security guards and support personnel. These new requirements will ensure that only top performers earn an MSG ribbon while rendering an untold number of Marines ineligible. Officials announced the changes Jan. 9 via Marine administrative message 010/14.

An overview:

Fitness. In the past, to be eligible for this special duty assignment, Marines were required to pass their physical and combat fitness tests with at least a third-class score. Now they’ll need a first-class PFT to qualify, said Capt. Eric Flanagan, a Marine Corps spokesman at the Pentagon.

“Numerous studies demonstrated that there is a high correlation between having at least a first-class PFT score and success at MSG School,” Flanagan said. “These Marines also tended to have successful tours as MSG on post.”

Aptitude. In addition to higher fitness standards, they’ll also need a higher general technical score, which was raised from 90 to 100. Like the PFT score, Flanagan said there was a connection between higher GT and success on the job. And for the staff noncommissioned officers who serve as detachment commanders, the higher standard matches what’s expected of them in the field, he said.

“SNCOs on the program are detachment commanders who have a great deal of responsibility and must have the ability to engage with senior officials in the interagency environment of an embassy,” he said.

Height. Short Marines might have trouble meeting a new rule: It was found that anyone less than 5 feet 4 inches tall can’t observe the lobby, entrance doors and other surroundings from Post One, the entry control point at diplomatic posts, without having their vision obstructed, Flanagan said.

It also ensures that the Marine can be seen by people in the lobby when they’re standing behind the counter, he said.

Clearance. Marines applying to MSG duty need to notify their unit security manager to start the process for the adjudicated clearance, too. Since the top secret security clearance MSGs need can take months to process, having an adjudicated secret security clearance in advance helps speed things up.

Dependents. As for dependents, staff NCOs are still the only MSGs who can be married or have custody of their children. But the new rules require that they can’t have a baby under the age of nine months or any dependents assigned to the Expectational Family Member Program, which helps Marine families dealing with special needs.

Flanagan said some of the austere environments in which MSGs serve can’t handle the required health care those dependents might require, including baby vaccinations.

The new requirements will be enforced by the embassy guard screening team immediately, the MARADMIN said. Since most applicants already meet the new requirements, Flanagan said Marine Corps officials don’t expect it to negatively affect the program’s expansion.

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