Tucked away at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C. lies the protocol
office; responsible for tasks that vary from coordinating parking spaces to
escorting important and influential guests. Behind the scenes the office works
diligently to ensure that the presentation of the Barracks and the events are executed
“[Marine Barracks Washington] hosts a multitude of events
year round, and we are also responsible for carrying out any other official
events as required by the Commandant of the Marine Corps,” said Capt. Desiree
Sanchez, protocol director.
The protocol office arranges the intricacies of events that
range from the evening and sunset parades to ceremonial events such retirements,
wreath laying ceremonies and promotions. The office ensures that each event
carries on as smooth and seamless as possible.
Individually, components such as seating arrangements and
guest lists seem to be a minor concern. What makes these tasks difficult is the
detail that goes into the coordination along with the amount of events that
occur. The section also coordinates the reservations for official personnel
that visit the Barracks.
“The battalion has so many responsibilities that it really
needs someone to solely focus on these events,” said Sanchez.
Distinguished guests such as the President of the United
States, the Secretary of the Navy, congressmen, senators and foreign
dignitaries have visited the Barracks. Protocol coordinates with the
commandant’s protocol directorate and the special project directorate to host these
“We are the
[commanding officer’s] subject matter experts on how to interact with
distinguished [guests],” said Sanchez.
The protocol office and the guest’s liaison officer identify
the support needed to ensure that guest leaves the Barracks with a keen sense
of the Marine Corps’ attention to detail, professionalism and dedication to
“Without protocol, the planning process would not be as easy
or as smooth because this office is in charge of coordinating every event,” said Cpl. Lucero Santiago, protocol non-commissioned officer.
“I don’t feel this section is important, I know this section is important
because protocol is the biggest supporting element for the Barracks.”
Other challenges the protocol office must overcome are unexpected
logistical changes, such as adjusting seating arrangements to accommodate
guests, shifting the event to an alternate location or cancelling the event due
to inclement weather. These changes can occur after events have already begun. The
office is currently staffed with three Marines and one civilian who work
rigorously to ensure that the Barracks mission is accomplished with the upmost
professionalism, precision and timeliness.
Although we put in long hours and often work late nights and
weekends, the support the Barracks’ Marines provide is greatly appreciated,