Senate voted Wednesday to authorize a 1,000 person increase in the size of the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group to provide additional protections for embassies and consulates.
By voice vote, the Senate approved an amendment to the 2013 defense authorization bill that is in direct response to the Sept. 11 attack on the diplomatic consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which resulted in the death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith and security officers Tyrone S. Woods and Glen A. Doherty.
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Because there is no similar provision in the House version of the defense bill, the fate of the provision will be determined by negotiations involving the House, Senate, Defense Department and White House over final details of the measure. Those negotiations won’t begin until the Senate passes its full version of the $648.5 billion bill, something not expected before Friday.
R-Ariz., who offered the amendment, said the Benghazi attack was “a stark reminder that the security environment confronting American personnel serving in the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad is as dangerous as any time that I can remember.”
The additional 1,000 Marines are needed, he said, because there are many diplomatic facilities that have no Marine Corps personnel providing security and many facilities that have Marine security guard detachments of only six people.
“Today, there are 126 U.S. diplomatic missions outside the United States without Marine Corps security protecting [them], including parts of Asia and Africa where we suspect that al Qaida is expanding its presence,” Sen. John McCain said.
Extra Marines need to be provided, he said, because moving Marines from some diplomatic facilities to improve security at other facilities would be unwise. “Increasing one — as is necessary in light of the attack at Benghazi — cannot come at the expense of another,” he said.
In addition to the extra Marines, the amendment calls for a reassessment by the Defense Department of the risk for diplomatic personnel. That does not necessarily mean a detachment is needed at every diplomatic facility, McCain said.
More Info: Marine Corps Embassy Security Group Home
The primary mission of the Marine Security Guard (MSG) is to provide internal security at designated U.S. diplomatic and consular facilities in order to prevent the compromise of classified material vital to the national security of the United States
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