The U.S. has sent additional Marines to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad in Iraq following last week's breech of the Green Zone in the country's capital.
Officials in Washington declined to discuss were mum about which units to which the extra Marines are assigned or to and what their mission is at the embassy. tasks in Baghdad will be.
"We routinely re-balance our security and diplomatic personnel at all of our missions worldwide," said a U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity."We do not discuss internal security procedures at embassies. The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad continues to operate normally."
The Marine Corps has a host of tools it can use to assist with embassy security in the face of a crisis.
Marine security guards are assigned to about 175 diplomatic facilities in close to 150 countries. Those Marines guard embassies' access points known as Post One and safeguard classified material. They are also equipped with weapons and nonlethal tools to deal with emergencies or security breaches at embassies.
If an ambassador, chief of mission or regional security officer at an embassy fears their post is in trouble, they can call on the Marine Security Augmentation Unit to respond. That unit dispatches additional embassy guards who can assist the existing MSG detachment at the facility.
Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Teams can send platoons of Marines to guard an embassy under threat of an attack. The service also has land- and sea-based units in the region that can send teams of infantrymen to shore up security at diplomatic posts.
Marines with the service's land-based crisis response units, for example, are staged in different parts of the world to respond to emergencies or threats at embassies or consulates. Marine infantrymen from those units in the Middle East and Africa have been dispatched to U.S. embassies in hot spots like Iraq, Yemen and Libya in the past.
The deployment of more Marines to the embassy in Baghdad comes as the Iraqi government is at risk of coming apart. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's attempt to reform the government has run into a brick wall in parliament where on April 26, lawmakers threw water bottles at each other when an expected vote on Abadi's proposed new cabinet melted down into a brawl.
The crisis has presented an opportunity for anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose forces U.S. troops have fought in the past. Al-Sadr has staged massive anti-government rallies in Baghdad and it was his followers who stormed the Green Zone last week.
If the Iraqi government falls, al-Sadr could become the country's new leader.