The Marine Special Operations Regiment (MSOR) is a special operations unit of the United States Marine Corps and the principal combat component of the Marine Corps Special Operations Command. The Regiment’s organization was finalized in 2007 and contains three battalions, the First, Second, and Third Special Operations Battalions.
In February 2006 Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC) was created at Camp Lejeune North Carolina. The 1st and 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalions were created along with the Marine Special Operations Advisor Group (MSOAG, the predecessor of the MSOR). The majority of the combat personnel assigned to the two battalions were drawn from the Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance community and the MSOAG personnel from the conventional infantry units. In April 2009, the MSOAG was redesignated the Marine Special Operations Regiment which then built in a new level of bureaucracy by making 1st and 2nd MSOB subordinate, and redesignated MSOAG’s operational Marines the 3rd Marine Special Operations Battalion. Each battalion consists of 4 companies and each company consists of 4 fifteen-man Marine Special Operations Teams. Prior to MSOR and MSOAG, the unit was known as the Foreign Military Training Unit (FMTU).
The Marine’s pilot program consisted of Det One deploying to Iraq with Navy SEALs from Naval Special Warfare Group 1 in 2004. Det One formed into the Marine Special Operations Battalions and deployed to Afghanistan in 2007. This deployment was marked with controversy when elements from 2nd Battalion was ambushed. The Marines were relieved from their operational charter in the country by an Army General from USSOCOM after claims were made that the Marines reacted inappropriately and caused excessive civilian casualties. In September 2009 the 1st Battalion returned to Afghanistan, this time in command of a joint special operations task force in the northwest of the country.
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. Marines wanting to serve as special operators must attend Assessment and Selection (A&S). All Marines are screened to ensure that the Marines joining MARSOC meet the established prerequisites for duty within the command. Screening takes place in 3 stages: record screening, physical screening, and a psychological and medical evaluation.
Assessment and Selection
Once a Marine is qualified through the MARSOC Recruiter’s screening process, he will be assigned to the Assessment and Selection (A&S) Program. A&S is mentally and physically challenging. The program is conducted 3 times a year at an undisclosed location following the 3 week Assessment and Selection Preparatory and Orientation Course.
Individual Training Course
The Individual Training Course is a physically and mentally challenging 7-month course designed to produce Critical Skills Operators who can operate across the spectrum of special operations in small teams under spartan conditions. ITC uses a building block approach; the training rigor will systematically increase to mimic the complexity and stresses of combat. During ITC students are under constant observation from the instructor cadre as well as their peers. ITC is broken down into four training phases:
Phase 1 trains and evaluates students in the basic skill sets required of all special operators. Physical fitness, swimming and hand-to-hand combat are stressed in a PT program designed around endurance, functional fitness and amphibious training. This physical training program will continue throughout the course and has been designed to prepare the student for the unique demands of special operations. Field skills including: navigation, patrolling, Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE), Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC). Mission planning, Fire support training and Communications round out the first phase.
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 Profile exercises “Operation Raider Spirit”, a 2 week exercise focused on patrolling and combat operations, and “Operation Stingray Fury” focused on urban and rural reconnaissance.
Student 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 during “Operation Guile Strike”.
In the final phase, students will receive instruction on Irregular Warfare operations. The course culminates with “Operation Derna Bridge.” Derna Bridge will require 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 Marine special operators will be assigned to one of the three Marine Special Operations Battalions.
All Marine special operators are required to undergo continual language training. However, based on ability, certain Marines will be selected for follow-on language training at an Advanced Linguistics Course.
The training of Marine special operators does not end with ITC. Marines will continue training at their assigned battalion for another 18 months. In addition, the MSOS offers advanced-level courses in a number of subject areas: Special Reconnaissance, Close Quarters Battle, Sniper, Breaching, and weapons employment. MSOS and advanced training courses:
MSOS and advanced training courses:
- Advanced Linguist Course (ALC)
- MARSOF Advanced Sniper Course (MASC)
- MARSOF Close Quarters Battle Level II (MCQBL2)
- Marine Technical Surveillance Course (MTSC)
- MARSOF Dynamic Entry Level II Course (MDEL2)
- Tactical Acquisition Exploitation (SR level II)
- Hostile Forces Tagging Tracking Location (HFTTL)
- Helicopter Rope Suspension Training (HRST)
- Advanced EOD
- Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC)
- Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Operator
- Advanced mountain warfare
- Advanced Driving Skills
- Survive, Evade, Resist and Escape (SERE)