The U.S. Marine Corps is creating a special anti-terrorism brigade in response to last month's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
In what Pentagon officials say is the first military reorganization since the September 11 attacks, the Marine Corps has announced plans to combine its existing anti-terrorist capabilities into a single new unit.
The anti-terrorism brigade will consist of some 5,000 Marines in all. The unit combines existing Marine units that provide security for naval installations in the United States together with the rapid deployment anti-terrorism security teams dispatched overseas to protect ships, bases and diplomatic missions.
In addition, the new brigade will include the Marine's Chemical Biological Incident Response Force. That unit was formed in response to the 1995 Tokyo subway terrorist gas attack.
Marine Brigadier General Douglas O'Dell tells reporters formation of the new brigade does not reflect any change in mission. "This is not a change in mission for us. This is just a restatement definitively, loudly that we are prepared to be vigilant with an attitude and we have got the muscle to back it up as Marines deployed around the world."
In addition to its anti-terrorism capabilities, the Marine Corps has so-called special operations capabilities that would enable elite Marine units to conduct covert raids, possibly including attacks on terrorist suspects.
Units with this special operations capability are part of marine expeditionary units like those already deployed in connection with Operation Enduring Freedom, the military mission against terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden and his supporters who are believed to be in hiding in Afghanistan.