US Marines resurrect historic Raiders name for Special Ops

The Marines will rename eight branches of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command as Raiders at a ceremony on Friday.

AP Photo/File
US Marine Raiders posing in front of a Japanese stronghold they conquered at Cape Torokina, Bougainville in Papua New Guinea in Jan. 1944.

The Raiders are back. After years of controversy and dispute, an elite branch of the US Marine Corps will officially be known as Raiders.

The Marines will rename Marine special operations battalions as Marine Raiders at a ceremony on Friday, in honor of World War II units that were engaged in special operations.

The name will be given to eight branches of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, known as MARSOC. Active since 2006, the command is part of the global fight against terrorism and has more than 2,700 Marines.

Ben Connable, a military and intelligence analyst at the nonprofit research agency RAND Corporation told The Associated Press that while most people in the US would not know what MARSOC stands for, “Raider will jump off the page.”

World War II Raiders were organized in response to President Franklin Roosevelt’s desire to have a commando-style force to conduct special amphibious light infantry warfare.

They were disbanded toward the end of the war and so was the Raider name, but since the Iraq war some Marines have worn the Raider emblems unofficially.

In 2011, Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos rejected a proposal to rename Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command for the Raiders. David Berger, director of operations at Marine Corps headquarters, said at the time that General Amos denied the proposal because “your allegiance, your loyalty … is to the Marine Corps, based on the title you have on your uniform.”

However, three years later in August 2014, after being heavily lobbied by the Marine Raider association to make the change, Amos agreed to rename MARSOC units to the Marine Raiders.

Members of the original World War II Raider companies will be present at Friday's ceremony, according to Marine Corps Times.

MARSOC spokesman Barry Morris says by June 22, all eight units’ web pages will reflect the name change.

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