The US Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC), a top US special forces team, is a command section of and the USMCs contribution to the US Special Operations Command – or – SOCOM. The MARSOC is mainly involved with direct action, special reconnaissance and foreign internal defense, but is capable of conducting counter-terrorism, unconventional warfare and information operations. It wasn’t until the September 11th incident that the USMC seriously considered integration with SOCOM. Up until that point, they had always felt it would be detrimental to the USMC to operate an elite detachment.
First activated in February of 2006, MARSOC is one of the newer units of the US Marine Corps and the military in general. They are also known as the “Raiders”. The headquarters for MARSOC is Camp Lejeunne, NC and is comprised of approximately 2,500 Marines with a base unit of fifteen. It is further split into three subordinate commands – Marine Special Operations Regiment, Marine Special Operations Support Group and Marine Special Operations Intelligence Battalion.
Becoming a MARSOC Member
Marines who wish to become a member of the MARSOC team must first pass a rigorous screening process. If they wish to serve as special operators, they are required to attend Assessment and Section. However, all – including those in support – are required to first meet the stringent pre-screening guidelines of MARSOC. There are three levels to this screening process. The first level involves record screening. Once the individual is cleared, they must then pass a physical screening, followed by a psychological and medical evaluation.
After the Assessment and Section portion has been completed, the potential team members undergo an Individual Training Course, which comprised for four different phases:
1st Phase - Basic Skills – Endurance and physical fitness are challenged as team members undergo rigorous training in hand-to-hand combat and amphibious training and other specialized areas which prepare them for the basic skills required to be a special operator.
2nd Phase - Additional Skills – This next phase builds on the first group of basic skills listed above. During this portion of training, students are trained in small boat and scout swimmer operations, additional weapons and demolition. They are also trained in photography as well as the proper collecting and reporting of information. During this phase, they are also evaluated on two Full Mission Profile exercises.
3rd Phase – Weapons, Tactics, Techniques and Procedures – In this phase of training, students are trained to become excellent combat marksman using both rifles and pistols. They are also taught procedures for serving as a member of MARSOC during defensive operations. Phase 3 finishes with a full mission outline of precision raids.
4th Phase – This fourth and final phase involves training on Irregular Warfare operations. At the end of this phase, students are required to incorporate all skills mastered throughout their training in “Operation Derna Bridge”. Once graduated, each Marine is assigned to one of the three MARSOC battalions. Within each battalion, members undergo an additional 18 months of training.
The motto for the US Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC) is “Always faithful, always forward, (swift, silent, deadly).