The Marine Corps is close to completing a realignment of its elite Special Operations troops, sending some of them to the Middle East in January 2015. Maj. Gen. Joseph L. Osterman, the new commander of the Marine Corps’ Special Operations force said they will be spread across the Middle East and focused on training and coordinating with friendly governments to guard against insurgencies. Others already have been deployed to Africa and the Pacific….
The new deployment to the Middle East is part of a wider effort to “regionalize” Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC), the general said…The force’s three battalions have been reorganized regionally, with one each focusing on the Pacific, Africa and the Middle East…
MARSOC was first established in February 2006 at the order of then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, as the Iraq War raged and an increasing emphasis on Special Operations emerged….
The command was established by pulling Marines from the service’s highly trained Force Reconnaissance units, however, and first sent a Special Operations company to Afghanistan in 2007. The first deployment was mired in controversy after a convoy of Marines in Nangarhar province was ambushed in March 4, 2007, and a firefight led to the death of at least 10 Afghan civilians. Army commanders removed the unit from the battlefield, but top Marine Corps commanders ultimately found that no one involved should face criminal charges. MARSOC eventually found its footing in Afghanistan. Deployed mostly to western and southern Afghanistan, the unit trained Afghan Local Police and other Afghan troops and engaged in combat regularly with the Taliban and other insurgent groups….
While much of the military shrinks after years of war in Afghanistan, MARSOC is still expanding. The organization is expected to eventually have about 2,500 troops, including 830 elite “critical skills operators,” …[Bu] roles that MARSOC trains for, but also are carried out by Navy SEALs, Force Reconnaissance Marines and other well-trained U.S. troops.
Excerpts from Dan Lamothe, Marine Corps realigns its Special Operations, sends elite troops to Middle East, Washington Post, Jan. 20. 2015