By John Pelesh
Marine Security Guards (MSGs) are a key part of regional security offices (RSO) worldwide. They work with security teams to protect embassies and consulates, allowing American diplomats to safely advance U.S. interests overseas.
After years of meticulous planning, the U.S. Consulate General in Hyderabad welcomed its first-ever detachment of eight MSGs in 2021. The thorough preparations from New Delhi’s Management Office, Hyderabad’s Management Office, and Hyderabad’s RSO ensured that the detachment met its June 2021 activation deadline. Post’s welcoming of MSGs in June signaled their 12-year-old post’s emergence as a key component of Mission India and fulfilled a critical prerequisite to occupying a new consulate compound in the fall of 2022.
In October 2016, Hyderabad received notification from India’s Ministry of External Affairs approving the creation of post’s MSG Detachment. Since then, several RSOs dedicated painstaking effort to prepare for the arrival of MSGs. This included proactively navigating lengthy bureaucratic visa issuances, and coordinating a security exception waiver to obtain a critical certificate of occupancy for the off-compound MSG quarters. Through the process, ConGen Hyderabad became Mission India’s informational expert in meeting MSG requirements and has advised their fellow consulate counterparts in Chennai and Kolkata for their eventual MSG activations.
As soon as the MSGs were on board, Hyderabad Regional Security Officer John Pelesh, Assistant Regional Security Officer Michael Lee, and Detachment Commander Staff Sgt. Andrew Teel designed and implemented regular response drills based on challenging and realistic security scenarios. After each drill, Pelesh engaged the MSGs in discussions that helped sharpen their operational readiness. Pelesh and the MSG team completed the activation process by drafting comprehensive guard orders and developing operational plans. They coordinated the technical security upgrades of Post-1 (the main MSG watch post) operations with a dedicated Washington-based support team, and successfully transitioned from a “Lock and Leave” to a 24/7 post.
Consul General Joel Reifman hosted a virtual townhall and proudly introduced the new MSGs to the consulate community, June 4. Effective June 21, 2021, ConGen Hyderabad MSGs took charge of Post-1 operations and officially activated Hyderabad’s MSG Detachment, cementing this key event into history.
John Pelesh is the site security manager at the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos and the former regional security officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Hyderabad.