Awarded to Marines who have earned their MOS 8151 and have served at least 24 months at a foreign establishment, the Marine Security Guard Ribbon was established by the Secretary of the Navy in July, 1997, just a little over a year before the devastating attacks on the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania highlighted the critical role that security plays in an age where terrorism is an ever-present possibility.

This harsh reality was hammered home again in 2012 following a deadly attack on a consulate in Libya. In response, Congress authorized the Corps to double the number of Marine Security Guards deployed at nearly 175 embassies and more than 145 consulates around the world. The duty at many of these locations can sometimes be dangerous; the round-the-clock nature of these billets means filling them can also be stressful.

But the Corps has not lowered its recruiting standards in order to more quickly fill posts. Some of the requirements that must be met to attend the Marine Security Guard School include:

Superior performance: Corporals must have ratings of at least 4.2/4.3 with non NJPs or negative Page 11 entries. Sergeants and below must have technical score of at least 90, while NCOs must score 100 (these scoring requirements cannot be waived).
Financially stability: Applicants must have a running average of $800 in the bank.
Citizenship status: Only U.S. citizens can apply.
Time in service: Thirty-eight months obligated service before attending the MSG School, with Sergeants and below required to have served 18 months on station. Staff NCOs are required to have served two full years on station and have spent at least twelve months in grade.
Family: While Sergeants with dependents may volunteer for a three-year tour with the MSG Security Augmentation Unit at Quantico, Virginia, Sergeants and below at all other billets cannot be married or have sole custody or dependents. Staff NCOs have a bit more leeway: they are allowed up to four dependents provided none are younger than nine-months-old, and they aren’t allowed to have any family members assigned to the Exceptional Family Member Program. Spouses are required to be U.S. citizens (dual citizenship is permitted, however).

To encourage applicants, the Corps offers several benefits for the MSG personnel. Graduates from the MSG School automatically receive 100 promotion points, for instance, and the rate of meritorious promotions for those performing embassy duty is higher than in any MOS’s. Financial compensation is also an incentive: Instead of the standard special-duty pay rate of $75 per month for a corporate with three years time-in-service, an MSG will take up almost $600 extra per month for embassy duty in Congo, and more than double that ($1200) for duty in Switzerland. (Pay rates reflect varying cost-of-living expenses

To earn the MSG Ribbon, Marines must complete twenty-four months of service at a foreign establishment; subsequent awards are issued for every twenty-four months served (these need not be consecutive).  The ribbon can be rewarded retroactively for service dating back to 28 January 1949, but only Ribbon is awarded for service dating from that time to August 15, 1974.

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