MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- The United States Marine Corps added another page to its history Friday as the Marines, Sailors, civilian employees and families of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command celebrated their first anniversary as the Marine Corps component of U.S. Special Operations Command.
The celebration included a prayer breakfast and a unit-wide formation run Friday morning and a Dining Out Saturday evening.
A formal anniversary ceremony was also held at WPT field here Friday.
The National Defense and Global War on Terrorism Service Streamers were presented and affixed to the MARSOC Color during the ceremony.
Activated February 24, 2006, MARSOC now includes nearly 1,400 personnel and is on track to reach full operational capability by the end of September 2008.
According to the MARSOC Commander, Maj. Gen. Dennis J. Hejlik, one of the amazing things about the men and women of the new Marine organization is that they are conducting operations while simultaneously growing toward full operational capability.
“It’s like we’re painting a car while driving 60 miles an hour,” Hejlik said.
"To be part of MARSOC during this important historic time in our nation's history is sobering," said Sgt. Maj. Matthew P. Ingram, MARSOC Sergeant Major. "Every day, we are writing new history for our nation, U.S. Special Operations Command and our Corps. As a Marine in my 29th year of service, I can not think of any place or any unit I would rather be serving in."
Four MARSOC Foreign Military Training Unit teams already deployed and returned from successful deployments in support of USSOCOM and the Global War on Terrorism.
More FMTU teams are deployed now and the first of nine planned Marine Special Operations Companies deployed with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit in January.
Colonel Pete Petronzio, MARSOC operations officer, used an analogy similar to Hejlik’s. “We’re living in the house while we build it,” he said, “and we’re doing an exceptional job.”
MARSOC is currently staffed at approximately 57 percent and equipped at approximately 50 percent of its final goal.
Despite the relentless pace of both growth and operations, Petronzio said, “We are being careful not to confuse enthusiasm with capability.”
MARSOC includes five major subordinate units: The 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, headquartered at Camp Pendleton, Calif.; and the 2d Marine Special Operations Battalion, Foreign Military Training Unit, Marine Special Operations Support Group and Marine Special Operations School, all located here at Camp Lejeune.
The core tasks assigned to MARSOC by the USSOCOM Commander are Foreign Internal Defense, Direct Action and Special Reconnaissance.
MARSOC is also directed to develop Unconventional Warfare, Counter Terrorism and Information Operations capabilities in the near future.
MARSOC’s second year promises to be as busy as the first.
FMTU teams are scheduled to deploy on approximately 30 missions across the globe and three more Marine Special Operations Companies will be trained and deployed worldwide before MARSOC’s second anniversary.
Construction of a MARSOC headquarters facility will begin at Stone Bay this fall, equipment will continue to flow in and units will continue to deploy.
Even with the best facilities and equipment, however, no military unit can succeed without quality people.
According to Hejlik, one of the highest priorities for MARSOC’s second year is to recruit quality Marines and Sailors to fill the ranks of the new FMTU teams and MSOCs.
“The most significant thing MARSOC provides to SOCOM is our Marines,” said Hejlik.
MARSOC recently conducted its first official screening of potential applicants and will kick off a formal assessment and selection program in May.
“We’re not looking for the guy who can swim back and forth across the Mississippi the long way wearing an 80 pound ruck,” said Petronzio.“We need mature Marines who are smart, have combat experience and are capable of operating independently.”
For more information about MARSOC and the requirements to receive orders to one of its special operations units, visit MARSOC online at www.marsoc.usmc.mil or contact the Marine Special Operations School by phone at (910) 450-2722/2762 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.