Reports: Marines Not Permitted Live Ammo

Pentagon denies reports on Marine blogs that U.S. embassy did not authorize service members to carry ammo
An Egyptian protester throws a tear gas canister toward riot police during clashes near the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Sept. 13, 2012. (AP)

An Egyptian protester throws a tear gas canister toward riot police during clashes near the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Sept. 13, 2012. (AP)


UPDATE: A Marine spokesperson at the Pentagon denied reports that U.S. Marines defending the American embassy in Egypt were not permitted by the State Department to carry live ammunition in a statement to Fox News Thursday.

Pentagon Lt. Col. Chris Hughes told the outlet: “The ambassador and RSO (Regional Security Officer) have been completely and appropriately engaged with the security situation. No restrictions on weapons or weapons status have been imposed. This information comes from the Det Commander at AMEMB (American Embassy) Cairo.”

The statement came in response to reports that U.S. Marines defending the American embassy in Egypt were not permitted by the State Department to carry live ammunition.

Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson “did not permit U.S. Marine guards to carry live ammunition,” according to multiple reports on U.S. Marine Corps blogs spotted by Nightwatch. “She neutralized any U.S. military capability that was dedicated to preserve her life and protect the US Embassy.”

Time magazine’s Battleland blog also reported Thursday that “senior U.S. officials late Wednesday declined to discuss in detail the security at either Cairo or Benghazi, so answers may be slow in coming.”

If true, the reports indicate that Patterson shirked her obligation to protect U.S. interests, Nightwatch states.

“She did not defend U.S. sovereign territory and betrayed her oath of office,” the report states. “She neutered the Marines posted to defend the embassy, trusting the Egyptians over the Marines.”

While Marines are typically relied on to defend U.S. territory abroad, such as embassies, these reports indicate that the Obama administration was relying on Egypt’s new Muslim Brotherhood-backed government to ensure American security, a move observers are questioning as violence in Cairo continues to rage.

Marc Toner, the State Department’s deputy spokesperson, did not respond to a request for comment from the Free Beacon. White House National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Vietor also did not respond to a request for comment.

The U.S. ambassador to any nation ultimately decides whether Marines are authorized to carry ammunition, according to a GOP national security adviser knowledgeable about American embassy protocols.

“In the end, the ambassador of any country has the final call on what to do in a country,” the source said. “The buck stops with you. You make every decision.”

Security procedures are subjective and subject to change depending on locale, the source said.

Each ambassador, in consultation with their Regional Security Officer (RSO), sets the policy regarding the rules of engagement, according to the adviser. The RSO is responsible for coordinating all security measures and reports directly to the ambassador in any given nation.

“A decision or order to set rules of engagement that you can’t carry live ammunition and can’t engage violent crowds climbing over your walls and tearing down your flag stems from direct orders from the Chief of Mission and possibly whoever the Chief of Mission reports to,” the source explained.

Given that the siege of the Cairo embassy unfolded over many hours, the source wondered if new orders pertaining to the rules of engagement were ever issued.

Ambassador Patterson was in Washington D.C. during the attacks, according to reports.

“I cannot believe that over an eight hour period that nobody … in that chain of command did not ask those questions of their superiors,” the source said. “These protestors did not just appear and within 20 minutes climb the wall.”

Several sources familiar with foreign embassies in international hotspots who contacted the Free Beacon said that the U.S. government often adheres to a policy of not permitting security officers and other personnel to carry loaded weapons.

Others indicated that in some instances, embassy personnel were prohibited from carrying weapons on embassy grounds altogether.

The Free Beacon will continue to update this report as events warrant.

Adam Kredo   Email Adam | Full Bio | RSS
Adam Kredo is senior writer for the Washington Free Beacon. Formerly an award-winning political reporter for the Washington Jewish Week, where he frequently broke national news, Kredo’s work has been featured in outlets such as the Jerusalem Post, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, and Politico, among others. He lives in Maryland with his comic books. His Twitter handle is @Kredo0. His email address is

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