First Marine Special Ops units deploy

Aug. 25, 2006 at 4:09 PM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 25 (UPI) -- The newly organized Marine Corps Special Operations Command deployed three units in early August for the command's first-ever mission.

The three 11-man Foreign Military Training units deployed to two African countries and a country in South America to train foreign military personnel in light infantry tactics, according to the Marine Times newspaper.

MARSOC is a new entity created to help meet the high operations tempo put on Army, Air Force and Navy special operations forces since the war on terrorism began.

While special operations forces are storied for their "direct action" missions -- independent, often covert military operations -- they spend most of their time training foreign militaries to handle terrorist and insurrectionist threats and performing civil affairs missions to improve the stability and capability of civilian governments.

The 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review called for an increase of 15 percent in the number of special forces, which total about 40,000. The creation of the Marine special ops branch in November 2005 will ultimately add about 2,600 to that total. Previously, certain Marine units were trained to be special operations capable in order to supplement the existing special forces. Now the Marine Corps Special Operations Command will field approximately 24 foreign military training units of their own, in addition to 10 special operations companies, from their home base in Camp LeJeune, N.C.

Twenty-two more FMTU will be deployed worldwide in 2007, according to the Marine Times.

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