We have Marine Security Guards at every post. They work with RSO to protect the Embassy, its information and its personnel. It's hard work, I think: they work in shifts, which means there are times they'll stand post throughout the night. Standing post can be boring on the nights when nothing is going on, but then, when something happens, they have to be ready to swing into action - and they have to know exactly what to do, who to call.
Some of these men and women are actually just kids. One of my favorite Marines in Moscow was a skinny 17-year-old, smart as a whip, super-polite, ate like a horse. Somehow he'd managed to sneak into the Corps before he even finished high school. When I was 17, I'm pretty sure I couldn't have handled a job like that, so far from home.
One of the first programs Bart ever ran as a first-tour ARSO was the Marine Security Guard program. He drilled with them every week, covering different emergency scenarios.
One night he left around the dinner hour to run a drill. A short time later, I heard someone pounding on the front door and shouting "Marine Security Guard!" How cute, I thought, they've put me in the drill for some reason. I skipped downstairs and opened the door to find a huge guy in full gear - helmet, weapon, vest - and he was shouting "Marine Security Guard! Lock your doors and stay away from the windows! This is NOT a drill!"
Not a drill? But... I knew they were supposed to be drilling, but he was serious. So I closed the curtains and sat for awhile, nervously wondering what was going on. After a long while, I couldn't stand it anymore, and I peeked out the window. It was quiet out back, with a layer of snow across the Embassy compound behind our house. But I could see Marines moving out there in the snow, looking for something or someone. They were all dressed in full gear, though many of them had come straight from the gym and only had workout shorts underneath. How they didn't freeze, I've no idea.
It wasn't until hours and hours later that my husband returned home and told me what had happened. There were intruders on the compound, and they basically had to search the entire place to make sure none escaped.
Why am I telling you this now? Well, there is a commercial making the rounds on Facebook - perhaps you've seen it? - publicizing the Marine Security program. It's really nicely done, and gives just a brief glimpse into the lives of these men and women who protect our Embassies around the world. In a couple of the scenes, they're dressed pretty much exactly like that guy was when he pounded on my door all those years ago.
I'm not going to link to it, though, because my internet connection is being very stubborn today. Instead, I'm going to send you to another blog that has linked to the video recently: Life After Jerusalem is usually one of the first to find gems like these, anyway, so if you're a foreign service type, you need to be reading her blog. Also, she has taken the time to create a list of links to practically every foreign service blog out there. So while you're over there, you can look at her sidebars and find yourself some new reading material.
And if you happen to run into any Marines today, thank them for me, okay?