Team of US Marines sent to provide more security at US embassy in Haiti


(NEW YORK) — A team of U.S. Marines has been sent to provide additional security at the U.S. embassy in Port au Prince, Haiti, according to a statement from U.S. Southern Command.

This new group of Marines is in addition to the tactical teams of Diplomatic Security personnel from the State Department that had already been sent to Haiti.

“At the request of the Department of State, the U.S. Southern Command deployed a U.S. Marine Fleet-Anti-terrorism Security Team (FAST) to maintain strong security capabilities at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and conduct relief in place for our current Marines, a common and routine practice worldwide,” U.S. Southern Command said. “The U.S. Embassy remains open, and limited operations continue, focused on assistance to US citizens and supporting Haitian led efforts to secure a peaceful transition of power.”

Separately, a spokesperson for U.S. Southern Command says “U.S. Southern Command is prepared with a wide range of contingency plans to ensure the safety and security of U.S. Citizens in Haiti.”

The Marines being sent to Haiti are what is known as a Marine FAST team — Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team — that have specific training in providing additional security at U.S. diplomatic posts anywhere in the world on short notice.

The deployment of Marines to the U.S. embassy is the second time this week that U.S. military forces have been called to assist U.S. embassy personnel in Haiti.

In the early morning hours of Sunday, U.S. military helicopters assisted in the evacuation of American non-essential personnel from the U.S. embassy according to a U.S. official.

A U.S. State Department official had earlier told ABC News that multiple specialized tactical teams from its Diplomatic Security Service had been securing the embassy and protecting the remaining staffers.

The official added that although some embassy employees were airlifted from Haiti this weekend, “a substantial complement of diplomats” are still at the embassy.

“This week, the Department of Defense doubled our funding for the Multinational Security Support (MSS) mission, and we are working with Haitian, Kenyan, and other partners to expedite its deployment to support the Haitian National Police and to restore security in Haiti,” U.S. Southern Command continued. “The Department of Defense is postured to provide enabling support for the MSS, including planning assistance, information sharing, airlift, and medical support.”

Haiti has been engulfed in civil unrest over the past several weeks which led to Acting Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry announcing he would resign on Monday, saying he will cede power to a presidential council following weeks of soaring anti-government violence led by an alliance of gangs.

“My government will leave immediately after the installation of this council,” Henry said in his announcement.

Henry’s resignation comes as gangs have launched an armed rebellion in Port-au-Prince this month, attacking a series of government targets over the last two weeks. Gang leadership had called for Henry to resign, leading to rampant speculation over how he would respond.

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Tuesday the U.S. “welcomes” the outcome of the meeting that created a transitional Presidential Council for Haiti, and commended Henry for “putting his country and Haitians first, agreeing to step down once this council is established.”

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