CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Accompanied to the tune of “Auld Lang Syne,” the organizational colors of the Marine Special Operations School were cased during a ceremony here, June 21, 2017.
In their place, the colors of the Marine Raider Training Center were unveiled, flying proudly again after a 73-year retirement.
Marine Corps Bulletin 5400, dated March 27 of this year, authorized the commander of Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command to make the change in order to capture and revive the esprit de corps and pride associated with the term “Marine Raider.”
This action represents the final step in MARSOC inheriting the legacy of the original Marine Raiders of World War II, a process begun in August 2015 with MARSOC Marines assuming the Raider name.
The first generation of Raiders were created in 1942 at a time when the United States and her allies needed to staunch a seemingly endless stream of Axis victories around the world. The Marines established four battalions of hand-selected, specially-trained commandos who could conduct advanced reconnaissance of Japanese defenses and wreak havoc in the enemy system through direct action raids. In order to keep these uniquely-focused units supplied with a pool of qualified replacements, the Marine Raider Training Center was established on Feb. 5, 1943, on property that is now part of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif.
The 8-week training pipeline focused on developing individual skills before moving on to more challenging small unit tactics. The curriculum covered weapons employment, hand-to-hand combat, small boat operations, reconnaissance and patrolling and guerilla warfare. An aggressive hiking program was an infamous staple of the Raider training program, featuring water restrictions to simulate battlefield conditions, a seven mile per hour target movement pace and intense hand-to-hand combat training and obstacle courses following a 42-mile hike conducted in a time limit of 15 hours. Key Raider leaders and MRTC instructors openly highlighted that the primary requirements for Marine Raiders were mental determination and physical stamina. These traits are found in the reincarnated Marine Raider Training Center today.
“[Historical accounts] also mention in several places the tremendous mental determination that was required to be a Raider,” said Maj. Gen. Carl E. Mundy III, MARSOC’s commander. “I mention that because there is no one that has gone through any portion of the Marine Raider Training Center that would call that unfamiliar. That sounds very familiar to what our own [Individual Training Course] does even to this day. There’s a common thread to where the Marine Raider Training Center has been in the past.”
The Marine Raider Training Center continues to be responsible for the creation, training and development of the Raiders’ core competencies. The instructor cadre play a critical role in MARSOC’s mission to man and train capable special operations forces. This starts in the quality control they provide in assessment and selection of potential Raiders. They train and educate them in basic and advanced special operations skills and continue to refine Raiders’ capabilities with follow-on training throughout their careers.
“The lifeblood of any organization is the people in it – it’s the first SOF Truth,” said Mundy. “It’s the human capital that we then provide to those Raider formations that go down range to conduct complex and challenging missions abroad.”
The Marine Raider Training Center’s reputation for competency, professionalism and proficiency has resulted in enhanced interoperability and training opportunities for sister service SOF and the conventional Marine Corps.
Mundy voiced his confidence that like the center of learning and readiness that came before it, the Marine Raider Training Center will continue to serve as a training and proving ground for concepts that will allow Marine Raiders to excel in any clime and place.
“Any professional organization needs a place where you can imbue Marines undergoing the training with the characteristics, the attributes, the culture, the ethos that really lie behind what it means to be a Marine Raider. That’s what the Marine Raider Training Center does for us.”
Story by Maj. Nicholas Mannweiler