United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command

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United States Marine Corps Special Operations Command
Marine Corps Special Operations Command Emblem
Active February 24, 2006 - present[1]
Country  United States of America
Branch  United States Marine Corps
Type Special Operations
Role Train, organize, equip and deploy task organized, scalable and responsive Marine Corps special operations forces worldwide in support of combatant commanders and other agencies
Size 2,500[1]
Part of 20px U.S. Special Operations Command
Garrison/HQ Camp Lejeune, North Carolina
Motto "Always Faithful, Always Forward"
Engagements Afghanistan War
Iraq War
Major General Joseph L. Osterman[1]

United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) is a component command of the United States Special Operations Command that comprises the Marine Corps' contribution to SOCOM. Its core capabilities are direct action, special reconnaissance and foreign internal defense. MARSOC has also been directed to conduct counter-terrorism, and information operations.[2]

History and Lineage

Marine Raiders conduct combat operations in eastern Afghanistan.

Its creation was announced on 23 November 2005 by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, following a meeting between him, the USSOCOM commander General Bryan D. Brown, and the Marine Corps Commandant General Michael Hagee on 28 October 2005. MARSOC was officially activated on 24 February 2006 with ceremonies at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

The potential participation of the Marine Corps in SOCOM has been controversial since SOCOM was formed in 1986. At the time, Marine Corps leaders felt that their Force Reconnaissance units were best kept in the Marine Corps' MAGTF command structure, and that the detachment of an "elite" Marine Special Operations unit from the Marine Corps would be to the detriment of the Marine Corps as a whole. A re-evaluation following the September 11 attacks and the War on Terrorism, along with new policy established by Secretary Rumsfeld and then-Commandant Gen. James L. Jones at The Pentagon, caused the Marine Corps to work towards integration with SOCOM. The establishment of MARSOC represented the most significant step towards that goal, and followed the establishment of MCSOCOM Detachment One (DET1), a small Marine Corps detachment formed as a pilot program to test Marine Corps integration into SOCOM. It was made up of mostly Force Recon Marines from 1st and 2nd Force Reconnaissance Companies along with other hand picked support men and served with Navy SEALs under Naval Special Warfare Group One. Detachment 1 conducted a multitude of special operations in Iraq alongside their Special Operations brothers of the sister services. SOCOM conducted a study of the unit's deployment, which clearly indicated success and strong performance. Detachment 1 was disbanded in 2006 soon after the creation of MARSOC.

The first Marine Special Operations Company was stood up in June 2006, shortly after the creation of MARSOC and were sent to Afghanistan. It was deployed supporting the Global War on Terrorism in December 2013 alongside the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) where they conducted various special operations missions, ranging from Direct action (military), reconnaissance and other mission sets.[3]

The first Marine Special Operations Individual Training Course began at Camp Lejeune on 6 October 2008.[4] MARSOC's stated end-goal is 850 CSOs.[5]


A Marine Raider glides towards his target during HALO operations.
Marine Raiders conduct CQB training.

MARSOC is composed of about 2500 Marines[6] and Sailors, and is currently commanded by Major General Joseph L. Osterman. MARSOC's organization was finalized in 2007. The base unit of MARSOC is the fourteen-man Marine Special Operations Team (MSOT), commanded by a captain (O-3) as Team Commander, assisted by a master sergeant (E-8) as Team Chief. Each team has two identical squads, or Tactical Elements, each led by a gunnery sergeant (E-7) as Element Leader. MARSOC is based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and is split into three subordinate commands:

Name Insignia Headquarters Description
Marine Raider Regiment[7] 55x55px Camp Lejeune, NC and Camp Pendleton, CA MRR consists of a Headquarters Company and three Marine Raider Battalions (1st, 2nd and 3rd). The MRBs are tasked with direct action, special reconnaissance, counter-terrorism, and information operations. They are also trained to carry out peacetime foreign internal defense[8] and unconventional warfare. This includes giving military training to friendly foreign nations. Each MRB consists of four Marine Special Operations Companies (MSOCs) that contain four Marine Special Operations Teams (MSOTs) in each Company. The organization allows a Team to operate on its own if needed, but maintains the ability to operate as part of a larger unit such as an MSOC or SOTF, similar to Army Special Forces ODA/B.[9] The core personnel strength of the MRBs was initially drafted from Force Reconnaissance Marines.
Marine Raider Support Group[7] 55x55px Camp Lejeune, NC The MRSG, comprising the Group HQs, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Marine Raider Support Battalions, contain the Command's administrative, and support assets.[10] The MRSG trains, equips, structures, and provides specially qualified Marine forces to augment MSOTs, including operational logistics, intelligence, multipurpose canines handlers, Firepower Control Teams and communications support in order to sustain worldwide special operations missions.[11]
Marine Special Operations School MSOS Insignia.jpg Camp Lejeune, NC Conducts screening, training, selection, assessment, and development functions for MARSOC.[12]
US Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command

Special Operations Combat Service Specialist

Special Operations Combat Service Specialists (SOCS-Ss) are Combat Service Support Marines who serve one standard tour with MARSOC in their primary MOS, such as Motor Transport or Logistics. Their training includes core skills for joint and interagency work as well as enhanced SOF combat skills training to enable their successful integration and survivability in special operations environments.[13]

Special Operations Capabilities Specialist

Special Operations Capabilities Specialists (SOCS) are Combat Support Marines that are able to join MARSOC based upon their MOS skill. They receive advanced special operations forces training and certification. SOCSs are operational and tactical force multipliers and frequently deploy alongside Critical Skills Operators (CSOs). SOCS billet fields include Intelligence, Communications, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Dog Handlers, and Fire-Control Specialists. Special Operations Capabilities Specialist are awarded the AMOS of 8071, and return to the operating forces after an extended tour of service with MARSOC.[13]


All Marines are screened to ensure that the Marines joining MARSOC meet the established prerequisites for duty within the command.

  • Have a minimum GT score of 105.[14]
  • Have a minimum PFT of 225.
  • Be able to pass the MARSOC swim assessment.
  • Meet the MARSOC medical screening criteria.
  • Be eligible to obtain and maintain a secret clearance.
  • Be willing, upon selection, to make a lateral move to the critical skills operator MOS.


Selection of the right personnel begins with a rigorous screening process designed to identify the right Marines for the right billet within MARSOC. Operational billets are open only to males. Screening takes place in 3 stages: record screening, physical screening, and a psychological and medical evaluation.

Special Operations Training Course

The Special Operations Training Course (STC) is six weeks of unhindered, realistic, challenging basic and intermediate Special Operations Forces (SOF) war fighting skills training. During STC the Special Operations Capabilities Specialists will also attend Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training along with a MARSOF Level 1 Course specific to their MOS: Explosive Ordnance Disposal (6 weeks), Communications (12 weeks), Intelligence (4–6 weeks), Joint Terminal Attack Controller (4 weeks), Multi-Purpose Canine (10 weeks).[13]

Critical Skills Operators

Critical Skills Operators are the primary special operations Marines within MARSOC. They are trained to execute a variety of missions. Specialized training also provides capabilities in language fluency necessary for crossing cultural barriers, allowing CSOs to connect with the local forces as well as civilians.[15] Marines designated CSOs are awarded MOS 0372. Critical Skills Operators (CSOs) are assigned to Marine Special Operations Teams (MSOT), Companies (MSOC) and Battalions (MSOBs).[16]

Raider Legacy

On August 6 of 2014, MARSOC claimed and officially bestowed the prestigious Marine Raider moniker upon their subordinate combat units (Marine Special Operations Regiment) in commemoration of the fabled and elite amphibious light infantry unit that operated during World War II.[17]

See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 SOCOM Public Affairs (2014). SOCOM Fact Book 2014 (PDF). SOCOM Public Affairs.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Hejlik, Major General Dennis J (August 2006). "Special Operations Marines and the Road Ahead". Marine Corps Gazette. Marine Corps Association. ISSN 0025-3170. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. MARSOC, Part 1: Devil Dogs of SOCOM. Sadefensejournal.com (2012-02-10). Retrieved on 2014-05-24.
  4. Armistead, Michael Warren (20 October 2008). "First US MARSOF Individual Training Course has begun" (Press release). United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 15 November 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Kyle McNally. "ITC 2-11 Graduation". Marines.mil.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. U.S. Seeks Faster Deployment; Smaller, More Flexible Special-Operations Teams Would Tackle Emerging Threats Under New Plan May 7, 2012
  7. 7.0 7.1 http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/story/military/2015/06/11/marsoc-units-raiders-name-10-month-delay/71072932/
  8. Stahlman, Josephh (28 August 2007). "MSOAG Marines get LIT". United States Marine Corps. Archived from the original on 15 June 2008. Retrieved 20 November 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Questions & Responses Page". U.S Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command. United States Marine Corps. 30 October 2007. Retrieved 28 May 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Marine Special Operations Support Group". U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command. United States Marine Corps. 15 November 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. http://www.marsoc.marines.mil/Units/MarineRaiderSupportGroup.aspx
  12. Maurer, Kevin (26 October 2008). "Marine Leader: Unit A Good Fit". Fayetteville Observer. Associated Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Join Us - MARSOC Recruiting. Marsoc.com. Retrieved on 2014-05-24.
  14. MARSOC.com
  15. [1] Archived 24 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  16. Critical Skills Operator Training & Selection. Americanspecialops.com. Retrieved on 2014-05-24.
  17. Lamothe, Dan (6 August 2014). "Marine Corps to adopt iconic Raiders name for its Special Operations troops". Washington Post. WashingtonPost.com. Retrieved 29 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>