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MARSOC Marine Raiders
So what is the difference between Force RECON and MARSOC? Well, MARSOC has only been in existence since 2006 and are now the Marine Corps Special Operations component of the Special Operations Command (SOCOM). In order to create MARSOC, the USMC Force RECON units had to quickly evolve into this new jointly operated unit. No longer were these Marines under the control of the Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) like Force RECON has always been. Now MARSOC is a part of the bigger Special Operations community that is comprised of Navy SEALs, EOD, SWCC, Army Special Forces, Air Force Special Tactics / Combat Control, and Special Operations pilots of Air Force and Army. With the development of MARSOC – Marine Special Operations Command, they now perform a variety of special operations missions around the world to include foreign internal defense, unconventional warfare, special reconnaissance, direct action and other missions. See RECON Article for more info about RECON.
Since 9-11, as the United States has ramped up it battle against terrorists worldwide, the Special Operations community has grown and made changes to better prepare our Special Operators to do their mission. The Marine Corps has also changed the way they do business on the Special Ops side of the house.
Here is the new breakdown to clear up any confusion with the temporary changes in USMC RECON and the new structure of MARSOC.
MARSOC took both Force RECON Companies originally BUT Force RECON Teams are now manning and operational. MARSOC are divided into the MSOB (Marine Special Operations Battalions now coined Marine Raider Battalions). The West Coast Marine Raider Battalions are located in Camp Pendleton, CA and the East Coast Raider Battalions are in Camp Lejeune, NC. From the MARSOC Website, they state:
The Raider Battalion is organized, trained
and equipped to deploy for worldwide missions as directed by MARSOC. It will
consist of four Marine Raider Companies and be
task-organized with personnel uniquely skilled in special equipment support,
intelligence and fire-support.
Now as of 2015 - All Marine Special Operations Regiment, Battalions and subordinate commands, all units are renamed Marine Raider Regiment, Marine Raider Battalions, Marine Raider Support Battalions and below.
all O-4 and below positions at MARSOC units have to go through a 3-week
central screening that is overseen by MSOS Marine Special Operations
School. It is pretty standard physical and tactical testing
for Special Operations Community under USSOCOM operational control.
Once in the MARSOC community, it is now possible to stay in the Special
Ops side of the house for your entire career.
The Marine Special Operations School mission is to assess
and select personnel for assignment for Marine Corps Forces Special Operations
Command (MARSOC) and to train and educate designated personnel in individual,
basic, and advanced special operations in order to meet MARSOC's requirement to
provide capable personnel to conduct special operations.
Assessment & Selection – Phase 2 – A&S2 is a mentally and physically challenging three week evaluation that enables MARSOC to identify Marines that have certain attributes / personality compatible with special operations missions.
Individual Training Course (ITC) - The ITC training occurs in four phases and nine months in length: (from Marsoc website)
Phase 1 – (Basic Skills) Phase 1 trains and evaluates students in the basic skills of operating from land navigation and patrolling, mission planning, and the physical training will continue throughout the course. Special Operational skills include: Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE), Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC), fire support training and Communications.
Phase 2 – (Small Unit Tactics) Phase 2 builds upon the foundation of Phase 1, training the student in small boat and scout swimmer operations, crew served weapons, demolitions, photography and information collection and reporting. Students will be evaluated in two Full Mission Profiles focused on patrolling and combat operations, and urban and rural reconnaissance.
Phase 3 – (Close Quarters Battle) Students will be trained in rifle and pistol combat marksmanship and will then learn the tactics, techniques and procedures need to serve as a member of a Marine Special Operations Team during assault operations. This Phase culminates in a series of full mission profile precision raids on rural and urban objectives.
Phase 4 – (Irregular Warfare) In the final phase, students will receive instruction on Irregular Warfare (Asymmetric Warfare) operations. The course requires the student to use all of the skills mastered throughout the course while training, advising and operating with a Partner Nation / Irregular force. Newly graduated MARSOC CSO’s will be assigned to one of the three Marine Raider Battalions.
Here is a quote from a Marine LT who is considering attending MARSOC in his future. “MARSOC likes for you to be an NCO before you can tryout, which means that you have to do about 3 years or two deployments before you can tryout. The tryout consists of a pool portion to see if you know what you are doing in the water. Then you take a PFT and see between the two of those if you can go to the 3 week screener. They give you a packing list and do not tell you much more than that, you just go and have fun for 3 weeks. Similar to the Army’s SFAS and BUD/S Indoc, which screens you prior to entering the MARSOC Training School is the goal of the screener. I think that it is more intimidating than anything else, as I hear that it is physical but if you can run a 300 PFT you will do well physically, but you still need to be able to learn new operations and tactics.”
(from MARSOC Website) The Marine Special Operations Advisor Group (now Marine Raider Battalion) provides tailored military combat-skills training and advisor support for identified foreign forces in order to enhance their tactical capabilities and to prepare the environment as directed by USSOCOM. Marines and Sailors of the MSOAG train, advise and assist friendly host-nation forces -- including naval and maritime military and paramilitary forces -- to enable them to support their governments’ internal security and stability, to counter subversion and to reduce the risk of violence from internal and external threats. MSOAG deployments are coordinated by MARSOC, through SOCOM, in accordance with engagement priorities within the Global War on Terrorism.
A forward deployed Marine Officer said it best when commenting about the MARSOC trained Marine, “The product going in is far more advanced as these are seasoned Marines going to MARSOC training. It is still growing, but you cannot argue with results. They have done well while deployed to Africa doing FID, and equally well in Afghanistan doing DA/SR.”
"This is a commercial site and not affiliated in any way with the Federal Government - The use of the words USMC or MARSOC does not imply nor infer any endorsement, either explicit or implicit, by the Federal Government or any military unit"
Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author
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