Date: 03/01/2012 Description: Panel ten - State Dept Image

PANEL FOUR—Diplomatic Security: Regional Security Officers Work with Marine Security Guards

Serving America by Protecting U.S. Embassies. A Regional Security Officer (RSO) is a Diplomatic Security special agent stationed at a U.S. mission abroad who serves as a U.S. Ambassador’s senior U.S. law enforcement and security advisor.

RSOs manage all U.S. embassy and consulate security programs. Because American embassies, consulates, and diplomatic personnel often are targets of terrorists and other criminals, RSOs mitigate threats through a range of physical, cyber, and personnel security programs, and through collaboration with host-nation law enforcement and security agencies.

Marine Security Guards are a critical part of this multi-layered approach to security. The RSO is the operational supervisor of the MSG detachment. In this role, the RSO ensures that MSGs are deployed appropriately, receive proper support and in-service training, and have a safe environment in which to live and work.

In some instances, when the life or safety of any U.S. diplomatic post’s principal officer is in danger and no other adequate means of protection is available, the RSO may assign armed MSGs to provide temporary security within that official’s residence. The RSO also may assign MSGs to protect U.S. diplomatic personnel and property in the event of a post evacuation during emergencies, such as civil unrest or natural disasters.

TIMELINE: As global turbulence swirled in the 1970s and 1980s, the U.S. and its embassies and emissaries overseas were exposed to more danger and violence. Extremists promoting various political, social, cultural, and religious agendas struck directly at American figures and facilities, utilizing bombings, kidnappings, and assassination attempts. In 1979, Iranian protestors overran the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took dozens of U.S. diplomats and Marines as hostages. Security precautions at U.S. missions in Europe, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East were ramped up to meet the growing threat.
January 1979: As Iranian soldiers stand guard outside the wall of the U.S. Embassy to hold off demonstrators rioting in adjacent areas, off-duty U.S. Marine Security Guards monitor the activity from the wall above. (AP/Wide World Photo)

November 1979: The first three U.S. Embassy hostages released in Iran, including two Marine Security Guard Detachment members, arrive at Rhein-Main U.S. Air Force base in Frankfurt/Main, West Germany. (AP/Wide World Photo)
January 1981: Wearing new uniforms, the U.S. Marines among the 52 former American Embassy hostages leave Wiesbaden Air Force hospital en route to the buses that brought them to the airport on their way home. (AP/Wide World Photo)

Serving America by Protecting U.S. Embassies. A Regional Security Officer (RSO) is a Diplomatic Security special agent stationed at a U.S. mission abroad who serves as a U.S. Ambassador’s senior U.S. law enforcement and security advisor.

RSOs manage all U.S. embassy and consulate security programs. Because American embassies, consulates, and diplomatic personnel often are targets of terrorists and other criminals, RSOs mitigate threats through a range of physical, cyber, and personnel security programs, and through collaboration with host-nation law enforcement and security agencies.

Marine Security Guards are a critical part of this multi-layered approach to security. The RSO is the operational supervisor of the MSG detachment. In this role, the RSO ensures that MSGs are deployed appropriately, receive proper support and in-service training, and have a safe environment in which to live and work.