Marine Raiders

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

The awkwardly named MARSOC is bringing back an old name — Marine Raiders:

Two battalions of Marine Raiders were raised in World War II, with a view to doing the sort of Commando operations the British were conducting against the German-occupied shores of Europe. There was some resistance to the formation of these units, but they had considerable political support: President Roosevelt’s son James served in one of the battalions, and their commanders, Edson Merritt and Evans Carlson, wrote their names in Marine history (Carlson also wrote the term Gung Ho into Marine slang). By 1944, the brass, always especially suspicious of Carlson (whose ideas of military operations had been forever altered by an observation tour with Mao’s 8th Route Army in China) and generally suspicious of elitism, disbanded the Raiders, after analyzing their missions and concluding that any Marine infantry unit, given some specific pre-mission training, could have done as well. One of the battalions was used to reform the 4th Marines, which had been annihilated in the Philippines.

The MARSOC leaders initially asked for the Raider name when the unit was stood up in 2004, but the same Marine resistance to “elitism” within the Marine ranks torpedoed that idea. Still, unofficial Raider paraphernalia proliferated throughout MARSOC, to the irritation of certain officers and sergeants major (and to the delight of others). Here’s one such Raider patch in Afghanistan:

Marine Raider Patch Unofficially in Afghanistan

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