WASHINGTON, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Monday approved the creation of a new branch of special operations forces composed of U.S. Marines.
While for several years the Marine Corps has been working closely with Army Special Forces to augment their capabilities, it has not until now had a separate special forces unit of its own.
Marine Special Operations Command, organized under U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), will have three elements: the Marine Special Operations Regiment for direct action missions; the Foreign Military Training Unit for helping foreign militaries; and the Marines Special Operations Support Group to provide intelligence, logistics and fire support coordination.
MARSOC will have about 2,600 personnel.
Lt. Gen. John Sattler, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, said Monday the unit will draw on the most experienced Marines, and is a continuation of work already underway.
"This started 18 to 24 months ago," Sattler said. "In sequence it's the best next step to go ahead and formalize it."
MARSOC headquarters will be organized at Camp LeJeune, N.C., where the Marine Corps has already been standing up a foreign military training unit. That effort will be wrapped into the new organization. Training foreign militaries is one of the primary functions of special forces units across the services.
MARSOC will be headed by Brig. Gen. Dennis Hejlik.