Special Operations Training Course Bridges Gap Between Operators

CAMP LEJEUNE, NC — When Marines hear the word ‘MARSOC’ they typically think of stellar Marines with the highest-speed gear who move the quietest, the fastest and have suppressors on every weapon they carry.

While there is that aspect of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command there is also another side, one that often surprises anyone who happens to hear of it, comprised of the combat support Marines that act as the backbone of the Marine Corps’ pony in the U.S. military special operations derby.

While it takes a uniquely talented Marine to earn the title of MARSOC Operator, it takes an equally talented Marine to deploy in support of the special operations forces. These are Marines who love the Corps and their military occupational specialty who are looking for something different, something a little out of the ordinary. However, the transition from operating with conventional Marine Corps units to support special operations teams requires some reinforcement of critical skills.

“The School of Infantry prepares combat support and combat service support Marines to perform common warfighting skills as required in a conventional environment. The Special Operations Training Course was developed to train Marines and Sailors from CS and CSS backgrounds in common warfighting skills. The CS and CSS Marines and Sailors in MARSOC perform their MOS functions, but must perform them in a SOF environment,” said Maj. William Mangus, operations officer for the Marine Special Operations Support Group.

This brand-new, 22-day course is designed to reinforce and enhance the combat basics these Marines learned during Marine Combat Training, and from any pre-deployment training or skills they’ve learned while deployed.

“Prior to STC we conducted pre-deployment training using Division and Marine Logistics Group schools in an uncondensed manner, we needed an efficient and effective way to teach these skills and nothing else worked,” said LtCol. Kevin Hawley, executive officer for MSOSG. “We discovered the most effective way to conduct combat skills training was to have a condensed course tailored to MARSOC’s needs.

The STC teaches combat skills to all personnel deploying with MARSOC,” added Hawley. The STC ensures the support Marines can keep up with the critical skills operators and provide them with every type of support they may need. Eventually, it is the intent of MARSOC to send every Marine who is not a critical skills operator through the STC. This course will become for special combat support operators what ITC is for Marines selected to enter the critical skill operator student pipeline.

During the course, Marines attend weapons classes to reacquaint them with the M9 9mm service pistol, M-4 carbine, M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, M240G medium machine gun and the M2 .50 heavy machine gun. They are also afforded the opportunity to fire these weapons in a variety of scenarios to simulate combat situations in order to refine already present intuition and knowledge and give them the confidence to perform effectively in combat should the need arise.

Prior to the weapons training in STC, the Marines migrate through a variety of training from operations order planning, orders development, fire support and call for fire missions, to land navigation skills building with maps, global positioning systems, compasses and overlay development. They are also put through communications classes to familiarize them with various radios, digital overlays and computer applications.

The remaining portions of the course include medical training and combat life saver classes, warfare tactics in various environments and room-clearing techniques. Students also attend cultural and civil affairs classes to ensure they understand the bigger picture of what MARSOC is doing on the world stage.

Hawley touched on upcoming phases of development by describing how the course will “…grow from a proof of concept that teaches the appropriate level of skills, to verifying that the training is going to fulfill the needs of MARSOC and to determine if we are devoting the right amount of time teaching the right skills we are required to teach before Marines deploy.”

The current model for the course has MARSOC personnel attending the course once they get selected for deployment. In the future, the course will be required for all Marines and sailors who check into MARSOC as a special combat support operator to ensure every member is ready to deploy in support of special operations missions.

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