Marines with Marine Forces Special Operations Command celebrated the 15th anniversary of the organization, Feb. 22, 2021.
Fifteen years ago, the Marine Corps combined several of its specialized and uniquely trained units to become pioneers in a new chapter of Marine Corps history within Special Operations Command. While MARSOC can still be considered a relatively young unit, the history of Marine Corps specialized forces can be traced back much further than 2006.
The original Marine Raiders date back to World War II when the Marines were called on to solve complex problems posed by our nation’s adversaries. These specially trained Marines helped turn the tide in the early stages against the imperial Japanese Army. In honor and recognition of those that came before, the Marine Corps officially re-designated those serving with MARSOC as Marine Raiders in 2015.
MARSOC was created Feb. 24, 2006 by the Marine Corps at the request of U.S. Special Operations Command to execute unconventional missions in a variety of environments. At its inception, MARSOC was composed of senior Force Reconnaissance Marines that stood up 1st and 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalions under the new Marine Special Operations Advisor Group. These Marines brought decades of combat experience to the newly created unit from their time with the Marine Expeditionary Unit, Special Operations Capable Teams.
The first commander of MARSOC, Lieutenant General Dennis J. Hejlik, was unable to attend the event due to weather but passed on his remarks to commemorate the fifteen-year milestone. “As MARSOC enters it’s 16th year, it’s important to know and understand the history of this exceptional group of warriors, where you came from, why and how.” Hejlik’s words continued to be read, “You have become the go-to Special Operations Force in the battlefield and are becoming world renown as America’s finest and most intelligent warriors with unparalleled technology, intelligence gathering and dissemination to many controlled surveillance, direct action and training techniques.”
MARSOC remains unique in how they build a fully capable special operations company. MARSOC utilizes the skills already found in the Fleet Marine Force by augmenting support Marines with advanced training and schools and preparing them to serve as Special Operations Capability Specialists. These SOCS then attach to and train with the companies in order to deploy as a fully enabled and capable unit.
MARSOC’s accomplishments over the last year include support to 13 named operations across 18 countries. While forward deployed, Raiders were called upon to respond to emerging situations and support regional partners in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Distributed teams supported diverse and complex missions in conflict zones and assisted in setting the conditions for integrated warfighting capacity of special operations forces, conventional forces, regional partner forces and allies adept in meeting the nation’s requirements in conflict and competition.
Major General James F. Glynn, MARSOC commander, spoke of the accomplishments of MARSOC as well as his vision for the future, “We recognized that the strength of our organization would be the drive and the pride, the character, the esprit and the commitment to be the best. You all represent and are setting the conditions like those 15 years ago, that will stand here 15 years from now and profess with pride all that has been achieved.”
The fighting characteristics of the WWII Raiders and their unconquerable spirit will live on in the modern era as MARSOC proudly carries the Raider tradition into the twenty-first century. “Marines are who we are. Special operations are what we do.” This mantra points to the foundational experiences that unite all Marine Raiders.