The Army has the Green Berets, while the Navy is known for the SEALs. Now, an elite branch of the Marine Corps will officially be known as Raiders. The Marines renamed several special operations units as Marine Raiders at a ceremony yesterday, resurrecting a moniker made famous by World War II units that carried out risky amphibious and guerrilla operations. The exploits of the original Marine Raiders—who pioneered tactics used by present-day special forces—were captured in books and the movies Gung Ho! in 1943 and Marine Raiders in 1944.
The name gives a unique identity to the Marines' branch of US Special Operations Command, which includes special forces from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. During World War II, the Raiders were organized in response to President Franklin Roosevelt's desire to have a commando-style force that could conduct amphibious raids and operate behind enemy lines. Raider commanders studied unconventional warfare tactics, including Chinese guerrillas, and were given their pick of men and equipment, according to Marine historians. Raider units were credited with beating larger Japanese forces on difficult terrain in the Pacific, and they participated in key battles including Guadalcanal and Bougainville.