Special Ops finds a few good men

    The Marine Corps formally entered the world of military special operations
    Friday by establishing a separate command devoted to small-unit tactics and
    stealthy reconnaissance.

    It’s work they’ve done as far back as World War II, but never before as part
    of the U.S. Special Operations Command. The change means battalions of Marines
    will be focused on special ops work just as Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets and
    Rangers are.

    Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made the change official after arriving at
    Camp Lejeune aboard an Osprey tiltrotor aircraft. He said special ops Marines
    will help “seek new and innovative ways to take the fight to the enemy.”

    Demand for highly trained special operations forces has increased as the U.S.
    war against terrorists continues.

    “We face a ruthless enemy that lurks in shadows,” Rumsfeld said. “It has
    become vital the Department of Defense and armed forces arrange ourselves in new
    and unconventional ways to succeed in meeting the peril of our age.”

    The Marines plan to establish their first special operations company in May
    and have the command fully staffed with about 2,500 troops by 2010. The command
    will recruit corporals, sergeants and officers with reconnaissance experience
    and language training.

    As part of the change, the Marine anti-terrorism brigade headquartered at
    Lejeune will go out of business and shift some of its troops to the special
    operations command. The command will have combat battalions on both U.S. coasts,
    along with support units and schools to teach special operations skills to U.S.
    and foreign troops.

    Units to train foreign military officers will deploy within months, Marine
    Commandant Gen. Michael Hagee said. A special operations company will deploy
    with an expeditionary unit aboard ships by the end of the year, other military
    officials said.

    The Tampa, Fla.-based U.S. Special Operations Command will control the
    Marines’ special forces.

    Special operations will give the Marines “a role they otherwise would not be
    able to get, to do counterterrorism,” said military analyst John Pike of
    Washington-based Globalsecurity.org.

    “The struggle against evil doers is a growth industry and the Marines want a
    piece of that,” Pike said. “The special operations community is getting a lot
    larger and they need more people.”


    On the Net:

    Marines: http://www.usmc.mil

    Special Operations Command: http://www.socom.mil

    © 2006 The Associated