Marine Corps Special Operations Command Activated

 By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
 American Forces Press Service

 CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C., Feb. 24, 2006  - The Marine Corps officially joined the ranks of U.S. Special Operations Command here today in a ceremony that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld called an important milestone in the nation's fight against terrorism.

"It pairs two of history's most dedicated groups of warriors -- the men and women of the U.S. Special Operations Command and the United States Marine Corps," Rumsfeld said at the activation ceremony.

Special operations forces and U.S. Marines are legendary for their agility, creativity and willingness to take on difficult missions, Rumsfeld said, and Marines have played important roles in past U.S. victories.

"Today in the global war on terror, we call on Marines again ... to seek new and innovative ways to take the fight to the enemy," he said. "Our country needs agile, highly mobile forces to track down terrorist cells that are dispersed across the globe."

The Marine Corps will bring new capabilities to Special Operations Command, Marine Gen. Michael W. Hagee, commandant of the Marine Corps, said.

Marine Special Operations Command will add new foreign military training units to the force, and the first of these teams will deploy in April, Hagee said. The Marines will also increase the logistics capability of Special Operations Command, he said, and will provide maritime raid capabilities for the first time in history.

The Marine Corps was added to Special Operations Command because it is the right thing to do for the country, Army Gen. Bryan Brown, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, said. "This is not about change for the sake of change," Brown said. "It is about enabling special operations forces to become even more capable against future threats."

Today's activation brings together two organizations that are tremendously capable and prepared to meet the threats of the changing battlefield, Brown said. Special operations Marines will be specially selected, organized, trained and equipped, and will be deployed within the next two months to fight the war on terror, he said.

The war on terror is a long war that requires a flexible U.S. military force that is able to face unconventional threats, Rumsfeld said. Special Operations Command has always been able to meet these unique threats, and the addition of the Marine Corps to the command gives it even more capability, he said. "Our country will now have the benefit of being able to draw on some of the most dedicated, innovative and capable warriors our country has ever known," he said.

Marine Special Operations Command is headquartered at Camp Lejeune and includes about 2,600 Marines and sailors. The command has five supporting commands: the Foreign Military Training Unit, Marine Special Operations Battalions East and West, the Marine Special Operations Support Group, and the Marine Special Operations School.