About a year and half ago, FAST Company sent a platoon to reinforce security at the American Embassy in Cairo. I had the opportunity to visit the Marines for a few days during the mission. All the FAST Marines as well as Marine Security Guards were armed and were carrying live ammo. I have a hard time believing this would suddenly change a year later.
Embassies are generally not guarded by hordes of heavily armed infantrymen. Marine Security Guard’s primary duties include the protection of classified material. They are well armed but they are armed for an internal security mission and not to repel enemy assault by fire and close combat.
I actually met a Marine who was at the embassy in Iran back in 1979. He taught a class at what was then Marine Security Guard School in Quantico in 1995. Marine Guards were instructed not to engage the Iranians as they were coming over the wall that day. Why? There were only seven or so Marines and about a million Iranians.
As far as ROEs in Cairo I can only speculate. Security personnel were most likely instructed not to engage anyone hopping over the walls. I imagine most of the Americans were in the main building at the embassy which is built like a keep. Again, Marine guards are armed for internal security and were more than likely standing by to repel invaders from the main building. Since I wasn’t there I can only guess as a former embassy guard and FAST Company 1stSgt. Even if I knew I wouldn’t say it here, so there you have it.
Another thing to keep in mind when you hear about security personnel not being armed is that outside the American compound, we all have to follow the laws of the host nation. If they don’t allow the carry of firearms then guess what? We obey the local laws.
Anyway, if you see a Marine overseas, he is probably armed. More than likely with bullets too. Don’t let the hype of your preferred political spectrum spin you into believing something untrue. I think it’s good advice no matter where you fall.