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MARSOC Could Grow to SEAL Strength

Kit Up! just returned from a breakfast interview with the commander of all Marine forces on the East Coast, Lt. Gen. Dennis Hejlik with some DC-based defense reporters and one of the (many) interesting things he said was that he saw the role and size of the Corps' special operations cadre growing by about 500 percent over the next few years.

Currently the number of MarSoc Marines stands at about 1,000 -- drawing mostly from the Force Recon community but also from some high-speed infantry guys and other intel-centric MOSs. Hejlik said he sees the force growing to about 5,000, or about as many SEALs in the Navy.

While their first few deployments were rocky to say the least, Hejlik said they're doing a bang up job in Afghanistan.

If you had asked me ... the day we stood up if we'd be where we are today five years down the road, I'd have said 'I don't think so' -- and I'm a pretty optimistic guy. In the [time] I was there, I saw tremendous growth. And I didn't see growth as much in capacity as I saw it in capability.
Hejlik, you'll remember, was the first commander of MarForSOC.

The general also said he envisions the Corps establishing a separate air wing to support MarSoc missions -- a controversial gap when the units were established back in 2006. But he admitted that given current budget realities, it's going to "take some time" for the service to eek out the cash to buy planes for the Leatherneck snake-eaters.

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