A controversy has erupted about whether US Marines posted to the US Embassy in Egypt (or any US embassy) are allowed to use live ammo to defend US ambassadors, embassy staff and themselves. The first link contains one of the first reports about this story. The initial stories asserted that the US Ambassador to Egypt did not permit US Marines stationed there to carry live ammo. The second story offers additional details about this story, but it includes an added comment from the Pentagon denying the report that Marines are not allowed to carry live ammo.
A copy of the Washington Times National Weekly Edition, dated 9-17-12, also asserted that US Marines were not allowed to carry live ammo at the Egyptian embassy (it is essentially the same story as in the second link but without the Pentagon denial). The story asserts that each US ambassador “has the final call” on whether Marines can carry live ammo, and it included refusals by State Department officials to deny that the initial story was true. Indeed, these officials refused any comment, which implies the original reports were true.
If true, it is a sad commentary on the woeful state of the US government’s foreign policies. If it will not even allow US Marines at its embassies to carry live ammo, how can they be expected to do their duty of protecting embassy staff? Any such policy would, in the eyes of the world, brand the USA as a “paper tiger” which has lost its superpower resolve. One would think that given the unstable security situation in Egypt, that Embassy is one where US Marines ought to surely be carrying live ammo.
I do have a concern the way the Pentagon denial may have “weasel-worded” its commentary on this situation. It denied that US Marines were not allowed to “carry” live ammo. That is not the real crux of the matter. The real question to be addressed is whether they were/are allowed to “use” live ammo if necessary. In other words, what were (are) the rules of engagement for US Marines at not only the Egyptian embassy but all embassies worldwide? It is entirely possible that Marines are allowed to “carry” live ammo, but may be forbidden to actually “fire” any live ammo if the situation calls for it.
US Marines guarding US embassies ought to at all times not only “carry” live ammo, but be authorized to “fire” such live ammo if the security situation requires it. Indeed, given the instability in many nations, US Marines detached to embassy protection duty ought to be able to have not only live rifle and small arms ammo, but they should have Light-Antitank weapons (LAW), anti-personnel fragmentation grenades and many other types of weaponry to drive off an invading mob attacking its embassy.
Is the USA still a self-respecting superpower in regards to its embassy security policies or has it become a “paper tiger” with spineless wimps calling the shots? Other nations, including those mentioned in the Gog-Magog alliance of Ezekiel 38, are keenly watching this situation. A nation that has lost the nerve to protect its own embassies is broadcasting to rival nations that it is ripe for an aggressive attack upon its interests.
The Pentagon denial did not address the real questions in this controversy. The State Department hasn’t addressed the question at all to my knowledge, but that is typical of the denizens at Foggy Bottom.