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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.

Each Raider Company is commanded by a Marine Major and capable of deploying task-organized expeditionary Special Operations Forces to conduct special reconnaissance and direct action and missions in support of the geographic combatant commanders.

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.

Now 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.

Becoming a MARSOC Marine Raider

In addition to being a Marine for three years, a MARSOC Raider candidate will be required to attend the Marine Special Operations Individual Course (ITC) at the Marine Special Operations School in Camp Lejeune NC. The nine month course centers on all the skills necessary to develop a highly capable Marine special operator, which include direct action, close quarters battle, special reconnaissance, foreign internal defense, fire support, tactical casualty care, irregular warfare, survival evasion resistance and escape, and infantry weapons and tactics.  Officers will also attend a four week Team Commanders Course (TCC) after successful completion of ITC.

Assessment & Selection – Phase 1 is a three week Assessment and Selection Preparatory and Orientation Course (ASPOC) proceeds the main selection phase. The Marines Raider candidates will be challenged both mentally and physically in this phase.  You will learn about the requirements of being a MARSOC Raider and personally assess your desire to continue.  The attrition rate is comparatively low due to the seasoned Marines entering the course however, surviving Assessment does not ensure your selection to attend the next phases.

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.” 

 For more information see the USMC MARSOC and RECON Websites listed in this article. 

"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 certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at

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Complete List:  BOOKS / eBOOKS / DVDs

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Published Books / DVDs
Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness (Book / DVD)

The Complete List of Stew Smith's eBooks:

Fitness for All Levels of Fitness

The 90 Day Beginner Guide to Fitness
The Advanced Maintenance and Recovery Program

Reclaim Your Life - The Erin O'Neill Program

Veteran's Fitness - Baby Boomer and a Flat Stomach

The Busy Executive Workout Routine
The Advanced Weights / PT Workout (Fall / Winter Weight Gain Cycle)
The Perfect Pushup Workout

The TRX Workout
NEW - Circuit Training 101 ebook
NEW Obstacle Course Race Ebook


The Special Forces Physical Fitness Workouts
 Combat Conditioning Workout

Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1  Beginner Weeks 1-9
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3 - Intermediate Weeks 1-12
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4  Grinder PT -  Four weeks before Hell Week

Navy SWCC Workout

The Army Special Forces / Ranger Workout 

The Army Air Assault School Workout

The Army Airborne Workout

The OCS, ROTC, Service Academy, & Bootcamp Workouts

Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard OCS Workout
The USMC IST and PFT Workout
USMC OCS / TBS Workout
The Service Academy Workout (West Point, Navy, Air Force Academy)
The Navy, Air Force, Marine Corp Bootcamp Workout

The Army OCS and PFT Workout
The NEW Army PRT and Combat Readiness Test Workout
The PFT Bible - Military / Police Standard PFT


The Law Enforcement Physical Fitness Test Workouts

The FBI Academy / PFT Prep Workout

The DEA Prep Workout

The FLETC Prep Workout - Ace the PEB

The State / Local Police Academy Workout

The Fire Fighter Workout

Why a 52 Week Workout Cycle?

  Seal Multi Men's Multi-Vitamin Multi-Mineral    

 TRX Train Like the Pros


Some Titles Above available in Print Softcover Format