Amos Reconsiders Renaming MARSOC After Raiders

Marine Raiders

U.S. Marine special operators could soon be known as Raiders -- the name the Corps' original commando battalions went by during World War II.

During a recent Facebook town hall meeting, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos said he was reconsidering a request from Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, or MARSOC, to revive the Raider name for its elite units.

"We're looking into it," Amos said. "No decision has been made at this time."

The first Marine Raider Battalion, Amphibious Forces, Atlantic Fleet, Quantico, Va., was stood up in February 1942. The 1st Marine Raider Regiment was organized in March 1943.

Raiders were elite units trained to conduct amphibious light infantry raids and rubber boat landings, as well as operating behind enemy lines.

The distinctive Raider insignia features a white skull inside a red diamond centered on a blue field. Five white stars form a half circle around the skull.

Amos denied the first proposal from MARSOC in 2010 to name the Corps' special operations units after the Raiders. The commandant turned down the proposal because he believed a naming convention was unnecessary because "we're Marines first," Maj. Gen. David Berger, head of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, told Marine Corps Times at the time of the decision.

The Marine commandant did not explain why he is now reconsidering the decision he made four years ago.

Raider units fought on Guadalcanal and in other campaigns, but they were disbanded in January 1944. The anticipated need for small commando units did not materialize, and most Raider units ended up performing the same missions as regular line infantry units.

This is a stark contrast from MARSOC's beginning. The creation of the Marine Corps element to U.S. Special Operations Command was announced in November 2005, four years after the war on terrorism began.

Even as the pace of combat slows, the Pentagon continues to place a strong emphasis on growing the special operations community across all the services to perform counterterrorism and unconventional warfare missions.

MARSOC candidates are required to attend the Marine Special Operations Individual Course at the Marine Special Operations School. The seven-month course centers on the skills necessary to develop a Marine special operator to include direct action; close quarters battle; special reconnaissance; survival evasion resistance and escape; and infantry weapons and tactics.

The training occurs in four phases. Phase 1 is a 10-week basic skills course that incorporates individual fitness, such as swimming, running, rucking, hand-to-hand combat as well as patrolling, mission planning, fire support, land navigation, combat medic training, and SERE training.

Phase 2 is an 8-week course that focuses on the Marine Special Ops Unit. Marines will master small-unit tactics, intelligence gathering, maritime navigation, small boat handling and field training exercises in urban/non-urban environments.

Phase 3 is a 5-week course where precision training starts to challenge the Marines further. Close Quarters Combat, marksmanship, shooting and moving through a target as a team is the focus of Phase 3.

Phase 4 is a 7-week course on Asymmetric Warfare, which teaches the Marine how to think like the enemy in order to disrupt their insurgencies, acts of terror, or guerrilla warfare.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at

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