Marines have been flexed to the Middle East to bolster security at embassies across the region amid worries of violence over the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.
Corps officials would not detail how many Marines were sent or at what locations, but stated the Marines were part of the Marine Security Guard Security Augmentation Unit, headquartered at Quantico, Virginia.
“A number of Marines from the Marine Security Guard Security Augmentation Unit (MSAU) have been requested to augment a number of embassies in light of current events. The exact locations and/or number of Marines will not be released,” Capt. Ryan Alvis, a Marine spokeswoman, told Marine Corps Times in an emailed statement.
NBC News reported Monday that dozens of Marines were sent to embassies in Turkey, Jordan and Israel ahead of the opening ceremony of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.
The Pentagon and State Department also are considering bolstering security at a number of other embassies in the region, NBC News reported.
The MSAU is a detachment of around 135 Marines trained in embassy security.
“These Marines, assigned to the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group, headquartered at Quantico, Va., are uniquely postured to respond expeditiously to augment embassies at the request of the State Department,”Alvis said. “All Marines who comprise the MSAU have served as Marine Corps Security Guards in the past and receive specialized training.”
The Corps can also call on Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Teams, or FAST teams, to reinforce security in the area if the embassy comes under direct attack.
The Corps’ FAST teams are deployed around the globe in order to quickly respond to events when they are called upon. These teams go through specialized training to recapture or secure U.S. installations around the globe.
Training includes evacuating civilians, urban warfare and shipboard interdiction operations.
FAST teams positioned in Rota, Spain, responded to the infamous 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, but it took nearly 23 hours before they arrived in Tripoli, Libya.
“While augmenting embassy security, Marines will serve under the authority of the embassy’s ambassador or chief of mission,” Alvis said.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.