MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C.(Feb. 27, 2008) — U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command commemorated its second anniversary by breaking ground on the construction site of its future headquarters building during a ceremony at Stone Bay here, Friday.
The ceremony marked a significant milestone in MARSOC’s continued growth as the Marine Corps component of U.S. Special Operations Command and was attended by Congressman Walter B. Jones of North Carolina, Admiral Eric T. Olson, Commander, USSOCOM, the Honorable Michael G. Vickers, Assistance Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict and Interdependent Capabilities, Lt. Gen. Keith J. Stalder, Commanding General, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Maj. Gen. Dennis J. Hejlik, MARSOC Commander, Capt. Richard D. Roth, Commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Mid Atlantic, Sgt. Maj. Matthew P. Ingram, MARSOC Sergeant Major, Chairman Lionell Midgett, Chairman of the Onslow County Board of Commissioners and Mr. Dan White, Executive Vice-President, Whiting Turner, who all participated by turning over the first shovels of soil on the construction site.
“It is the beginning of MARSOC getting its initial, permanent facilities,” said Maj. Casey Barnes, engineer officer, MARSOC G-4. “It consolidates all of MARSOC and will help us be more effective.”
According to Master Sgt. John J. Walworth, engineer chief, MARSOC G-4, all of MARSOC’s Camp Lejeune units – Marine Special Operations Advisor Group, 2d Marine Special Operations Battalion, Marine Special Operations Support Group and Marine Special Operations School – will eventually be located at Stone Bay with all-new headquarters facilities and training areas.
“The biggest misconception about the groundbreaking is that since we’re breaking ground on the headquarters facility, people think that is all we’re building,” said Walworth. “In fact, that is just the start of the build plan out at Stone Bay.”
Construction of the MARSOC headquarters will cost $51.6 million. The entire MARSOC compound planned for Camp Lejeune will cost an estimated $518 million and will include the facilities and ranges needed to support the full process of preparing MARSOC warriors for special operations missions. A smaller facility at Camp Pendleton, Calif., will be constructed to support 1st MSOB there. In all, the military construction plan for MARSOC’s facilities extends into fiscal year 2015.
Construction of new facilities represents more than just a place for MARSOC’s men and women to train, plan operations and maintain their equipment, it also represents the permanence of home and the strength of heritage. The new headquarters will provide a place from which MARSOC’s warriors will deploy to carry out challenging missions abroad, and a place to which they can return once their missions are complete and victory in the Long War has been secured.
“This shows the special operations community and the rest of the Marine Corps that we’re here to stay,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Donald Snyder, religious program specialist, MSOAG. “MARSOC has been spread out all over the base, but this will make communication easier and help us come closer together as a command.”
“This is historic for MARSOC. This will be a great headquarters for us, and we’ll continue to move forward from there,” said Hejlik. “The really impressive thing is that we’re building and growing this organization at the same time that we are conducting SOF missions worldwide.”
MARSOC contributed increased capability and capacity to USSOCOM operations throughout the past year while simultaneously growing by more than 500 personnel to more than 70 percent of the approximately 2,500 Marines, Sailors and civilian employees who will complete the command.
Companies and teams from two MSOBs and MSOAG, supplemented by specialized enabler teams provided by the MSOSG, carried out special operations throughout the world. Missions ranged from direct action and special reconnaissance in Afghanistan to foreign internal defense in countries throughout the Southern, European, Pacific and Central Commands.
As MARSOC celebrates a successful second year of growth and operations, the road ahead promises to bring even greater challenges and rewards. The command will deploy for more than 40 missions by the end of Fiscal Year 2008, which is nearly double the number of MARSOC missions performed during its first year.
Hejlik says he is humbled when he thinks about the future site of MARSOC and how the personnel within the command will have a home as a full fledged component of USSOCOM.
“Right now, we’re spread throughout Camp Lejeune,” said Hejlik. “We’ve had great support from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Installations, but we are spread and it makes it a little bit more difficult to plan and coordinate. But when our facility is finished in the next 18 months to two years, we’ll have all the commanders and primary staff in one facility.”