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Marines of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit receive a welcome briefing at the U.S. Embassy in Singapore from the Marine Detachment Commander Staff Sgt. Matthew Holcomb and the embassy Regional Security Officer, Oct. 30. The Marines received a tour of the embassy and saw a day in the life of a Marine Security Guard during a port visit while on their deployment with the 31st MEU in the Asia-Pacific region.

Photo by 1st Lt. Caleb Eames

31st MEU Marines visit US Embassy Singapore

5 Nov 2010 | 1st Lt. Caleb Eames

Marines of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit got a glimpse of the challenging and privileged life of Marine Security Guards during a visit to the U.S. Embassy Singapore during their port visit Oct. 30.

 Around the world, only the few and the proud guard our nation’s diplomatic missions; the Marine Corps is the only service authorized by the National Security Act of 1947 to perform internal security missions at U.S. Embassies and U.S. Consulates overseas.

“The Marines are the only ones who are picked to protect embassies world-wide,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Holcomb, Marine detachment commander, U.S. Embassy Singapore. “The Department of State entrusts us with this critical mission knowing that we hold firmly to our Marine Corps values of honor, courage and commitment.”

The Marines of the 31st MEU received a welcome briefing from the Regional Security Officer upon arrival at the U.S. Embassy Singapore.

 “The life of a Marine serving at an Embassy overseas can be great,” the RSO commented. “Yes, it can be a little repetitious, but in the end the rewards far outweigh anything else. It is a wonderful opportunity to be stationed in country, meet people and experience cultures which you might not otherwise get the chance to experience.”

 After the briefing, the Marines received a tour of the embassy and the Marine house from Holcomb and the assistant detachment commander, Sgt. Ron Lima.

The Marines of the detachment live in a large residence with all the modern amenities and conveniences. The visiting service members viewed the Marine’s sleeping arrangements, and saw the large living and dining rooms, kitchen and entertainment areas.

 After the Marine house tour, the visiting Marines saw the detachment ready room, where equipment and supplies are kept for response to potential emergencies within the embassy.

MSGs are responsible for providing security at 149 U.S. embassies and consulates around the world, according to the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group website. Those on MSG duty are responsible primarily for providing interior security services, including the protection of sensitive national security information.  MSGs are trained to react to terrorist acts as well as a variety of other emergencies including fires, riots, demonstrations and evacuations.

 “We have to be ready to respond to any situation,” said Lima. “With any emergency inside the embassy walls, it is up to the Marine detachment to figure it out and save the day.”

The visiting members of the 31st MEU saw the daily life of the MSGs, including standing post at the Embassy entrance, conducting security checks, interacting with local security forces and conducting security drills inside the embassy.

After the tour was complete, the 31st MEU Marines got the chance to sample local Singapore food at the embassy cafeteria and interact with some of the embassy staff.

“It was wonderful for the Marines on the MEU to have this chance to come out and see how the MSGs live and work,” said Staff Sgt. Sean Hofmann, Animal Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 31st MEU, a former MSG who organized the tour. “This is one of the best kept secrets of the Marine Corps – every Marine should seriously consider doing this as a special duty assignment.”

The Marines of the 31st MEU visited the U.S. Embassy in Singapore as part of a scheduled port visit during a patrol of the Asia-Pacific region. The 31st MEU and the Essex Amphibious Ready Group recently completed humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in the Northern Philippines.

31st Marine Expeditionary Unit