MARSOC Shares Glimpse into Assessment and Selection

CAMP LEJEUNE, NC (SGT Donovan Lee) – More than 100 Marines accomplished the first step in the grueling process of becoming a Critical Skills Operator after successfully completing Phase I of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command’s Assessment and Selection aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 6.

Phase I of A&S is a 23-day physical training program and is designed to test the candidates to see if they have what it takes to make it through Phase II, said the A&S Phase I Lead Instructor. Before a Marine can make it to A&S they must have a minimum general technical (GT) score of 105, have a minimum physical fitness test score of 225, pass a medical screening, be able to pass the MARSOC swim assessment and obtain a secret security clearance.

MARSOC accepts applications from Marines ranking from E-3 to E-5, and from Marine officers ranking from O-1 to O-3. If one were to meet all of these qualifications their next step would be to contact a MARSOC recruiter or attend a MARSOC screening team visit.

The next MARSOC screening team tour is scheduled for West Coast units on the following dates;

Marine Corps Base 29 Palms, Calif., March 3-4
Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., March 10-12
Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., March 18-19
Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Az., March 30-April 1
Marine Corps Base Hawaii, April 7-8

But just being qualified is only half of the battle, said a Phase I instructor.

Phase I is a very physical course, he said. During this phase, candidates run the Marine Corps PFT, complete weighted pack runs varying between eight to 12 miles, complete multiple swim training sessions, run the Marine Corps obstacle course, and perform other physical training sessions.

“Phase I is not a preparation course for Phase II, it is the beginning of the selection,” said the A&S Phase I Lead Instructor.

Candidates also attend classroom instruction periods where they learn advanced land navigation skills, U.S. Special Operations Command and MARSOC history, good physical fitness and nutrition practices, and other criteria critical to being a MARSOC operator.

“They are presented with information and are expected to apply that information to make them successful in the organization,” said the A&S Phase I Lead Instructor.

Candidates are also evaluated on a mental level outside of the classroom.

“The mental aspects that are identified in Phase I are simple, normal tasks that are expected of everyday Marines,” said the A&S Phase I Lead Instructor. “Things like showing up on time, having the proper gear, following directions; those are the core pieces that make every day Marines squared away, which transfers into being a good operator.”

One of the reasons instructors see candidates and students fail or quit is because they are not already committed to becoming a CSO before they get to A&S, he said. Instructors say candidates who are more successful have typically completed MARSOC’s ten-week fitness preparation program, which is available in a phone application found at

“There is a saying inside the organizations that you shouldn’t make a decision while you are going uphill,” said the Lead Instructor. “The decision to see things through and to persevere should be made before you start the task.”

For more information about becoming a MARSOC operator, visit and consider joining ShadowSpear’s MARSOC mentor program.


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