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Photo Information

Major General Mark A. Clark, the commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command congratulates the winning team leader of the MARSOC warrior challenge at an awards ceremony at MARSOC headquarters aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C. Feb. 22, 2013. MARSOC Marines and Sailors celebrated the command's 7th birthday by competing against each other in the warrior challenge's three separate events, which included a stamina course, a fitness and marksmanship challenge and a soccer tournament. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Kyle McNally/Released)

Photo by Cpl. Kyle McNally

MARSOC celebrates 7th birthday

1 Mar 2013 | Cpl. Kyle McNally

U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command celebrated its 7th birthday on Feb. 22, marking the Corps’s growing commitment to special operations in the Global War on Terror.

“[MARSOC] is no longer new,” said Maj. Gen. Mark A. Clark, the MARSOC commander, addressing his unit. “We are a young organization. We are still growing, but we are no longer new.”

MARSOC Marines and Sailors marked the occasion with a morning “warrior challenge” in which the unit’s subordinate commands competed against each other in events including a stamina course, a fitness and marksmanship challenge and a soccer tournament.

“It was a good way to meet people throughout the command,” said a lance corporal with MARSOC’s Logistics Battalion. “It’s important with the workload that we have to be able to come out here and relax, reflect and get to know each other.”

Teams from MARSOC’s Marine Special Operations School (MSOS), Support Group (MSOSG) and Regiment (MSOR) strapped on 45-pound backpacks and ran a four-mile obstacle course, stopping at different stations to treat mock casualties, assemble weapons and swim 500 meters. During the fitness and marksmanship challenge, Marines and Sailors ran suicide drills, dragged anchor chains and ran up and down flights of stairs until they reached an indoor pistol range, where their marksmanship abilities were tested under stress and fatigue.

The winning team from MSOS was recognized at an awards ceremony that afternoon, where they received a trophy and a Spartan helmet from Clark and Sgt. Maj. Thomas F. Hall, the MARSOC sergeant major. The command also presented the following awards to its top performers: Marine of the Year, SOF Operator of the Year, SOF Support Marine of the Year, Recruiter of the Year, Instructor of the Year, Civilian of the Year, The Luke Milam Excellence Award and The Commander’s Award of Excellence.

 “Because of the passion and perseverance of our Marines and Sailors, [MARSOC] is considered to be one of the most capable and professional special operations forces today,” Clark said at the awards ceremony.

Clark noted that in the past year alone, MARSOC Marines and Sailors have received 135 valor medals, 112 combat action ribbons, and 25 purple hearts.

“It is because of our dedicated Marines, Sailors and government team members, carrying the weight of the command on their backs, that [MARSOC] is where it is today,” he said.

            MARSOC joined U.S. Special Operations Command in 2006, and has since integrated seamlessly, said Clark.

“We are accepted and respected in the special operations community,” he said. “Our operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere over the past 12 months have demonstrated our maturation as a command and have proved our value.”

MARSOC is currently commanding and supporting a Special Operations Task Force of Marines, Green Berets and SEALs in Afghanistan. Its battlespace is larger than that of any other SOTF, covering an area of more than 100,000 miles.

            Although a newcomer to SOCOM, the Marine Corps has a long history of special operations that stretches back to World War II and the Marine Raiders – one of the first special operations forces in U.S. history. Even before the Raiders, Marines were conducting irregular warfare in the Caribbean, Asia and North Africa throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

            MARSOC attributes this lineage with its success in the special operations community; a lineage Clark echoed in his MARSOC birthday address.

            “The vision of [Marine SOF] has changed as the environment has changed,” he said. “But the direction has not.”