WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- The Marine Corps is setting up a new Special Operations Command to ease the strain on other services' elite units.
The new command will also contribute to the nation's readiness in the global war on terror, the new unit's commander said Thursday.
"I firmly believe that this is the right thing to do for the country at this time," said Marine Brig. Gen. Dennis J. Hejlik, commander of Marine Corps Special Operations Command, according to a report carried by the American Forces Press Service.
The Marine Corps Special Operations Command, or MARSOC, will formally stand up its headquarters Feb. 24 at Camp Lejeune, N.C. In addition to the headquarters, Camp Lejeune will be home to the Marine Special Operations Support Group, several foreign military training units, a Marine special operations battalion, and the Marine Special Operations School, Hejlik said. Another Marine special operations battalion will be stationed at Camp Pendleton, Calif., he said.
Over the next five years, MARSOC will grow to an end strength of 2,600 people, Hejlik said.
The Marine special operations battalion will include four Marine special operations companies, each with 97 to 118 people, depending on mission requirements, Hejlik said. The core of these companies will be experienced force reconnaissance Marines taken from the mainstream Marine Corps, he said. The Marine special operations companies will deploy with Marine expeditionary units, Hejlik said. Once deployed, the companies will under operational control of the special operations commander in theater, but be available to support the MEU if needed, he said.