Editor's note: The following is an opinion piece. The writer is not employed by Military Times and the views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Military Times or its editorial staff.
I've read and heard concerns surrounding the new insignia for Marine Corps special operations officers and enlisted personnel who have successfully completed the Individual Training Course and become full fledged members of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command. Marines and others should understand that every decision made by the Marine Corps' senior leadership regarding MARSOC takes a large number of factors into consideration: purpose, intent and potential unintended consequences. Is it good not only for MARSOC but also good for the Marine Corps at large?
This decision is part of the "embracing MARSOC" mandate that former Commandant Gen. James Amos said we would do as a Marine Corps. In turn, MARSOC has embraced the Marine Corps as well. Talk to any MARSOC Marine Raider, and they will tell you "Marines are who we are. Special operations are what we do."
Then-Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos, left, speaks with MARSOC Commander Maj. Gen. Mark Clark, center, and an unidentified Marine first sergeant at a MARSOC event in 2012. (Photo by Sgt. Mallory S. VanderSchans/Marine Corps)
I can tell you that the Marines assigned to MARSOC live up to that every day. They are some of the finest Marines with whom I have had the honor of serving.
Within the special operations community, MARSOC Marine Raiders are viewed the same way — as Marines who carry out special operations in a most professional, adaptable, can-do manner. The Marine ethos and fabric that is interwoven into each of them are what add to their specialness, their uniqueness.
Retired Adm. Bill McRaven, who led U.S. Special Operations Command, once said that being Marines is our niche within the special ops community; it’s what makes us special and unlike any other in that realm. That was, is, and will remain our identity within MARSOC — the fact we are Marines. The tag on the front of our utility uniforms reads the same as every other Marine who earns the eagle, globe and anchor.
The new insignia is a means of identification, not separation, within the Corps just like naval aviator wings, aircrew wings, scuba insignia, explosive ordnance disposal insignia and jump wings.
This means of identification also serves another purpose for the Marine Corps — MARSOC operates 90 percent of its time in a joint special operations environment. Special operations credibility is a must immediately in this environment. The insignia offers that credibility without having to state it.
MARSOC has faithfully maintained its role and responsibility as the Marine Corps’ special operation component to the joint community, and it has continued to be a strong part of the Marine Corps fabric even though there were concerns with the special operations specialty designations and the Marine Raider name inheritance. Marine Raiders will continue to stay the course of "always faithful" with the insignia.
Names etched on the memorial wall in front of the MARSOC headquarters building in Stone Bay, North Carolina, attest to this fact. Marine Raiders have proven it in combat.
I would ask, rather than have concerns about this, embrace it as a good thing for the Marine Corps and the Marine Raiders who have worked so very hard and sacrificed much to achieve this designation.
Clark is a retired Marine Corps major general and the fourth commander of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command. He left active duty in 2014. These views do not necessarily represent those of the Marine Corps or the Defense Department.