CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- The first element of the Marine Corps' new special-operations command already is scrambling to tackle its mission--to help prepare the soldiers of under-developed nations to defend themselves against terrorists.
The foreign military unit, as it has been dubbed, was established in October 2005, said its operations officer, Maj. Herman Glover. Ultimately, it will include 430 Marines and Navy medical corpsmen. The unit will be organized into a headquarters element, four companies built around two-dozen 11-man teams and a standards and training cadre. The companies will focus on specific regions where cultures and languages are similar, Glover said.
"We want to operate in 'Phase Zero' countries, Third-World locations where things haven't gone totally wrong yet." These include countries in Asia, Africa and South America, he said. Thus far, Glover said, 10 nations have indicated an interest.
Training foreign military personnel has been a core assignment for special operators at least since 1952, when the Army's Special Forces were founded. But the pace of that training has grown significantly in recent years as part of emerging U.S. counter-terrorist operations. In 2004, in addition to fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, special operators participated in more than 50 joint combined-exercise training events with other nations around the world.
Marines have begun relieving them of some of that burden. In 2002, Marine Corps Forces Europe took over the training of military units in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. Since then, Marines have provided schooling for soldiers in wide swaths of Africa, Asia and South America.
The FMTU will centralize and focus those efforts and coordinate them more closely with the U.S. Special Operations Command, Glover explained.
Teams will deploy to host nations for periods ranging from six weeks to three months, he said. They will teach basic infantry and counter-terrorist tactics. Among the subjects will be:
* Individual skills, such as marksmanship with individual and crew-served weapons, hand-to-hand combat, first aid and tactical communications.
* Small-unit tactics, including coastal interdiction, patrolling, offensive and defensive operations, urban shooting skills and civil affairs.
* Anti-terrorism and force protection, such as access control and unit self-defense.
* Support functions, including basic logistics and casualty evacuation.
* Leadership and law of land warfare.