The auditorium of the Marine Forces Special Operations Command Headquarters at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C, was standing room only as Marine Raiders gathered to celebrate the 14th anniversary ceremony of the organization, Feb. 21, 2020.
The commander and command senior enlisted leader for U.S. Special Operations Command, General Richard D. Clarke and Command Chief Master Sergeant Gregory A. Smith attended the ceremony that also recognized Marines from throughout the component for excellence in their respective fields.
“As we look forward into a future riddled with uncertainty and ever evolving threats, MARSOC will remain an essential part of SOCOM,” said Clarke during his remarks.
“You make a difference wherever you are. Time and time again, Raiders have turned the tide on the frontier in faraway places, and all but unknown to most people.” General Richard D. Clarke, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command
In the past year, MARSOC has supported 12 named operations across 16 countries, to include support to military actions in Iraq, persistent leadership and coordination for the SOF and conventional force efforts in the Southern Philippines, and command and control nodes for SOF operations in Africa.
“A handful of Marine special operators are positively influencing thousands of Filipino Armed Forces members. You are quite literally the force that is preventing another crisis like Marawi,” said Clarke. “In your 14 year history, Raiders have exceeded expectations in terms of capability and you have outside impact everywhere you have been. It is Raiders who are among the brave. Who wade eagerly into the chaos and restore order.”
The ceremony included the rededication of the organizational battle colors, with the addition of the Operation Inherent Resolve Campaign Streamer, and a Bronze Star, in lieu of second award for the Meritorious Unit Commendation.
“It is all about honoring the customs and traditions of our Corps and our military,” said Maj. Gen. Daniel D. Yoo, MARSOC commander, in his brief remarks during the ceremony, though he expressed his appreciation and pride to the Marine Raiders that serve in his charge.
“I am thankful for all that you do, day-in and day-out, to support our warfighters, uphold our Marine Raider legacy, and forge our path of providing the nation and Geographic Combatant Commanders a Marine Special Operations Force capable of dynamically adjusting to meet the complex demands of the future operating environment,” said Yoo. “I am incredibly proud of your accomplishments. At times the ultimate sacrifice was made, and we will continue to honor and remember those that have given their lives in support of this great nation. They, and their loved ones, will forever be part of our Marine Raider family.”
Yoo also expressed his vision for the future of MARSOC.
“Throughout 2019, MARSOC made significant advancements in combat development. In the years ahead, we will pursue consolidation, experimentation, testing, and evaluation of future operating concepts and near-peer offset capabilities, and shape the component for continued innovation in support of MARSOF 2030 and the Joint Force.”
In 2019, Marine Raiders worked with Headquarters Marine Corps to transition optics and enhanced thermal imager as a service-common item. The component is also working to identify a system to better integrate and manage the holistic power requirement of an individual operator.
The decision to consolidate all Marine Raider units on the East coast was also announced this past year. Close to 900 Marines, Sailors and civilian employees from 1st Marine Raider Battalion and 1st Marine Raider Support Battalion will move to eastern North Carolina by 2022, allowing the component to streamline organizational learning, talent management and could save the Marine Corps more than $55 million dollars in housing and family-move costs alone. Other costs savings will allow the component to continue to make headway in combat development initiatives and explore autonomous ground vehicles to add to the successes it has accomplished with ground organic precision strike systems and the medium lightweight machine gun.
“You have a clear and unambiguous vision of the character required to represent our country. The Marine Corps, perhaps better than any other service, has articulated the values that we must hold dear, both day in and day out,” noted Clarke. As he closed out his comments, he recalled having heard MARSOC referred to as, “‘Little Sparta,’ You have blended the martial pride and prowess of Sparta, with the brains of Athens, and the spirit and values of this great American experiment that we all hold so dear.”