Infantry: April 19, 2003

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All those incidents where "marines" are reported as working with army special forces, are not regular marines, but marine commandos. Last year, the U.S. Marines asked to contribute their commandos (the Force Recon troops) to SOCOM (Special Operations Command.) The marines declined to put their Force Recon (long range recon troops) in SOCOM when first invited back in the 1980s. But times have changed, special operations are hot, and the marines want in. The navy is not encouraging this time, because SOCOM already has the Navy SEALs and the feeling is that Force Recon would just duplicate a lot of work already being done. To help settle the issue, the marine Force Recon troops were sent to Iraq. Force Recon consists of two companies on active duty, plus two companies of reservists. Some of the reservists were sent to Iraq, along with the regulars. In the field, on recon duty, the Force Recon are hard to miss. They use Mercedes four wheel drive vehicles that have the doors, roof and windshield removed. There is a .50-caliber machine gun mounted in the cargo bed, plus a 7.62mm machine-gun mounted just ahead of the front passenger seat. Numerous other weapons fill the vehicle, which usually operates with a three man crew. But the Force Recon marines are truly an elite, going through an exacting selection and training process, just like all other commandos. Eager to show how they can "fit in," the Force Recon let it be known that they were available to anything, anywhere, anytime. Thus when PFC Jessica Lynch was rescued behind Iraqi lines, the "marines" providing the "support" were Force Recon. It won't be known for months if all this activity will get Force Recon into SOCOM, but the guys certainly put on a good show.

 


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