Editor of sister site Kit Up!, Christian Lowe forwarded me this quote he got from the commander of all Marine forces on the East Coast, Lt. Gen. Dennis Hejlik during a press briefing in Washington yesterday. Basically, Marine Special Operations Command, the amphibious service’s special ops corpus that’s set to expand in the coming years, may someday have its own air element.
When you look at MARSOC today … the Commandant of the Marine Corps has embraced MARSOC and that’s a term we use: “we’re going to embrace MARSOC” — they will be plussed up we’re still looking at that with the fisrig (Force Structure Review Group) but right now it’s right around 1,000. Someday I personally and professionally think that someday they will have air assets like a MagTaf. I firmly believe that. That will take some time just because of the cost and the war we’re in right now. But that’s where I see them going.
Apparently, the three-star didn’t elaborate on when a MARSOC air element would be stood up, how big it will be and what types of aircraft and missions it will perform for the Corps’ special operators.
If you look at the current USMC aviation inventory, it’s already pretty well suited to support a special ops cadre: It’s got MV-22 Osprey tiltrotors which are very similar to Air Force Special Operations Command’s CV-22 troop haulers. The Corps also has its new UH-1Ys that could be used as a light version of the MH-60L Direct Action Penetrators flown by the Army’s 119 Special Operations Aviation Regiment. Heck, the Marines even have KC-130 Hercules tankers capable of air-to-air refueling rotary-wing birds; including the Ospreys. Some of those Herks have even been armed under the Harvest Hawk program, making them light-versions of AFSOC’s legendary AC-130 gunships.
I’e got to say, it will be interesting to see if the Corps tried to purchase a dedicated fixed-wing assault plane similar to the Embraer Super Tucano that supports Navy SEALs via the Imminent Fury program.
Now, standing up a special ops aviation unit will take years of training and may pull badly needed aviation assets away from the rest of the Corps; something that may meet resistance during a time of reduced budgets. Some may even insist that the Corps rely on its existing aviation elements or use the assets of AFSOC and other SOCOM entities. We’ll see what happens.