The Marine Corps will soon officially join the special operations community with a new Marine Special Operations Command to become a component of U.S. Special Operations Command, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has announced.
Rumsfeld announced his approval of the plan, part of a sweeping range of transformations under way to strengthen the U.S. military and its special operations forces, during a Pentagon news briefing.
The new command "will increase the number of special operations forces available for missions worldwide while expanding their capabilities in some key areas," Rumsfeld told reporters.
The new command will formalize a longstanding relationship between the Marine Corps and Special Operations Command, Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Douglas Powell told the American Forces Press Service.
It will increase Special Operations Command's ability to field highly skilled special operators in the numbers required to support of the war on terror and other missions, he said.
The command's members will train foreign military units and carry out other Marine Corps missions traditionally associated with special operations work: intelligence, logistics, fire-support coordination, direct action and special reconnaissance, among them, Powell said.
The 2,600-member command will have three subordinate elements: a special operations regiment, foreign military training unit and special operations support group.
A portion of the command will train and deploy with Marine expeditionary units, enhancing those units' special operations capability, officials said.
The command headquarters and nearly all its elements will be based at Camp Lejeune, N.C. One element of the Marine Special Operations Regiment will be stationed at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
The activation date for the new command has not been set, and its elements are expected to phase in their operations. Some elements, including the Foreign Military Training Unit, are expected to assume missions almost immediately, officials said.
Marine Brig. Gen. Dennis J. Hejlik will be the MARSOC's first commander, officials said. Hejlik previously served as deputy commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.