United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command

United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command
U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations Command
Active 24 February 2006 – present
Country United States United States of America
Branch Marine corps flag.svg United States Marine Corps
Type Special Operations
Role Primary tasks:
Size ~2,500
Part of United States Special Operations Command
Garrison/HQ Stone Bay, Camp Lejeune, NC
Nickname Silent Warriors
Motto "Always Faithful, Always Forward, (Swift, Silent, Deadly)"
Engagements Operation Iraqi Freedom

Operation Enduring Freedom

Major General Paul E. Lefebvre

United States Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC) is a component command of the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) 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, information operations, and unconventional warfare.[1]


History and lineage

Marines conduct combat operations in eastern Afghanistan.

Its creation was announced on 1 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 11 September 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 finalization of MARSOC's organization began in 2007, after it was realized that a MARSOC unit needed to be able to be part of a Joint Special Operations Task Force and that unit structure was unbalanced.[2]

The first Marine Special Operations Individual Training Course began at Camp Lejeune on 6 October 2008.[3]


A Marine glides towards his target in a parachute during HALO operations.
Marines conduct CQB training.

MARSOC comprises roughly 2,500 Marines and sailors, and is currently commanded by Major General Paul E. Lefebvre. MARSOC's organization was finalized in 2007. The base unit of MARSOC is the fourteen-man Marine Special Operations Team (MSOT), which is commanded by a Captain (O-3). MARSOC is based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and is split into three subordinate commands:

Name Insignia Headquarters Description
Marine Special Operations Regiment Marine special operations regiment logo.jpg Camp Pendleton, CA and Camp Lejeune, NC MSOR consists of a Headquarters Company and three Marine Special Operations Battalions (1st, 2nd and 3rd). The MSOBs are tasked with direct action, special reconnaissance, counter-terrorism, and information operations. They are also trained to carry out peacetime foreign internal defense[4] and unconventional warfare. This includes giving military training to friendly foreign nations. Each MSOB 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 bigger unit such as an MSOC or SOTF, similar to Army Special Forces ODA/B.[2] The core personnel strength of the MSOBs was initially drafted from Force Reconnaissance Marines.
Marine Special Operations Support Group MSOSG1-LOGO.jpg Camp Lejeune, NC Comprises 400 personnel, contains the Command's administrative, intelligence, and support assets.[5]
Marine Special Operations Intelligence Battalion Marine Corps Special Operations Intelligence Battalion.jpg Camp Lejeune, NC Provides intelligence support at all operational levels in order to support training and operations worldwide with mission-specific intelligence capability.[6]
Marine Special Operations School MSOS Insignia.jpg Camp Lejeune, NC Conducts screening, training, selection, assessment, and development functions for MARSOC.[7]



A Marine conducts shooting drills.
A Marine leads his pack mule at Mountain Warfare Training Command.
An SH-60 Seahawk waits for a simulated Medical evacuation.

Selection of the right personnel begins with a rigorous screening process designed to identify the right Marines for the right billet within MARSOC. Only those Marines wanting to serve as special operators, as opposed to support, must attend Assessment and Selection (A&S); however, 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.

MARSOC operational billets are open only to males.

Individual Training Course

The Individual Training Course is a physically and mentally challenging course that lasts up to seven months that is designed to provide MARSOC special operators with a basic foundation of essential special operations skills. The first class graduated from the Individual Training Course in March 2009.[8] The course has 4 phases:

Phase 1

Devoted to basic field skills and SOCOM pre-deployment requirements. Coursework includes Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) and Tactical Combat Casualty Care. Marines receive instruction in individual and small unit movement and tactics. Using a building block approach, the training rigor systematically increases to mimic the complexity and stresses of combat. Marines begin a rigorous physical training program designed around endurance, functional fitness, amphibious training and combatives. This physical training program continues throughout the course and has been designed to prepare the student for the unique demands of special operations. The time period for this training is 12 to 13 weeks.

Phase 2

In the final phase, Marines will receive instruction associated with Irregular Warfare operations and will culminate the course with the long duration operation “Derna Bridge”. Derna Bridge forces the student to use all of the skills mastered throughout the course while training, advising and operating with a partner "nation." This exercise is almost a block by block recreation of the final phase of training for US Army Special Forces, "Exercise Robin Sage," an unconventional warfare exercise that has taken place since the 1950s.

Language Training

All MARSOC Marines 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.

Advanced Training

Training and educating MARSOC 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. Furthermore, Special Operations Marines attend U.S. Army Airborne School and United States Marine Corps Combatant Diver Course.

Current Commander


  • Major General Paul E. Lefebvre

See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
  1. ^ Hejlik, Major General Dennis J; Gilmore, Major Cliff W; Ingram, Sergeant Major Matthew P (August 2006). "Special Operations Marines and the Road Ahead". Marine Corps Gazette (Marine Corps Association). ISSN 0025-3170. 
  2. ^ a b "Questions & Responses Page". U.S Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command. United States Marine Corps. 30 October 2007. http://www.marsoc.usmc.mil/questions-responses.html. Retrieved 28 May 2008. 
  3. ^ Armistead, Michael Warren (20 October 2008). "First US MARSOF Individual Training Course has begun" (Press release). United States Marine Corps. http://www.wnct.com/nct/news/local/article/marsoc_begins_first_individual_training_course/21604/. Retrieved 15 November 2008. 
  4. ^ Stahlman, Josephh (28 August 2007). "MSOAG Marines get LIT". United States Marine Corps. Archived from the original on 15 June 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080615173256/http://www.marines.mil/units/marsoc/Pages/2007/ContentAUG9.aspx. Retrieved 20 November 2008. 
  5. ^ "Marine Special Operations Support Group". U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command. United States Marine Corps. 15 November 2008. http://www.marsoc.usmc.mil/msosg.html. 
  6. ^ Richard Blumenstein. "MARSOC stands up MIB". Marines.mil. http://www.marines.mil/unit/marsoc/Pages/100518-M-MIB.aspx. 
  7. ^ Maurer, Kevin (26 October 2008). "Marine Leader: Unit A Good Fit". Fayetteville Observer. Associated Press. http://www.fayobserver.com/article?id=308583. 
  8. ^ Jennifer Hlad. "MARSOC graduates first class". http://strikehold.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/marsoc-graduates-first-class. 


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