Additional Embassy Guards Won’t Be Cheap
Putting additional security in place at high-risk embassies and consulates is going to cost money:
WASHINGTON — When the State Department fields the first of 350 additional Marine security guards at high-risk embassies and consulates around the world later this year, the price tag will be steep: about $1.6 million per Marine.
Why so much?
It turns out that about $525 million of the $553 million that Congress approved this year to deploy more Marine guards — fulfilling a recommendation of the independent review panel that investigated the attacks last year on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya — is going toward building new command-and-control hubs in the posts and living quarters for the Marines.
The department plans to send 35 new Marine detachments, with about 10 Marines each, to diplomatic posts over the next few years. The first 90 are expected to arrive by the end of the year, officials said.
At each of the 35 missions receiving Marine guards, the department plans to spend about $15 million to build a command-and-control center, called a Post One, equipped with security cameras and communications equipment, from which guards serving around the clock can control access in and out of the embassy buildings.
The 1,200 Marine security guards now stationed in more than 130 countries live in a variety of locations depending on the embassy’s design and space. Some live on the diplomatic compound; others do not.
The financing for the new facilities also covers living quarters, which would include bedrooms and common areas, as well as small gyms and cafeterias. The department prefers that the Marines live on the compound when possible, officials said.
“They’re trying to make these living arrangements as comfortable as possible,” said one government official who has been briefed on the construction plans.
State Department officials are reluctant to provide details on the building arrangements, for security reasons.
But they said each of the new command centers and additional housing would be custom-designed, either as part of brand-new embassies or leased housing. The department is in the process of developing specific project plans for each of the new Marine detachments, with the first new facilities to be included in embassies under construction in Laos and the West African country of Benin.
No doubt, additional security is necessary in many of these cases. However, one has to wonder if we’re not going to end up going over the top here, especially if it means spending money in parts of the world where we don’t really need to.