U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command recently stood up two new battalions as part of a reorganization effort designed to accommodate its influx of combat support and combat service support personnel.
The Marine Special Operations Logistics Battalion (MSOLB) and the Marine Special Operations Combat Support Battalion (MSOCSB) will house the nearly 800 Marines scheduled to join MARSOC’s support component by 2016. The new Marines will provide support in intelligence, engineering, explosive ordnance disposal and other capacities to MARSOC’s special operations teams, which often operate in forbidding and remote locations with little reach back to conventional support assets.
Now the need for critical support assets from conventional forces will be even less, as the new logistics battalion will fulfill roles in engineering, embarking and logistics, with Marines trained specifically to support MARSOC’s special operations missions.
“The support we’re going to be able to deliver to our deployed (Special Operations Task Forces) and companies is going to increase their survivability and their ability to conduct operations globally,” said Col. Jeffrey Fultz, commanding officer of the Marine Special Operations Support Group, which oversees the new battalions.
Fultz went on to say that MSOLB is one of the Marine Corps’s most unique logistics battalions, due to its Individual Training Program (ITP).
“For the first time in combat service support in the Marine Corps, the Marines (in MSOLB) will have an ITP,” said Lt. Col. Stephanie L. Walker, commanding officer of the new logistics battalion. “If you’ve ever been in any other unit with combat service support, you’re either deployed or you’re home doing your pre-deployment training. But you never get time to individually train. That’s what MSOLB offers these Marines; some time to hone their skills prior to going out in support of MARSOC.”
Each support Marine at MARSOC is required to complete a comprehensive checklist of individual training requirements, including the Special Operations Training Course (STC), and Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training. Added to a combination of unit training requirements and a short dwell time between deployments, MSOLB’s new ITP is a welcome change, said Walker.
The activation of MSOCSB also brings new advances to the command, particularly in the intelligence realm. A revision of MARSOC’s former intelligence battalion, now equipped with a communications company and a headquarters company, MSOCSB is capable of bringing every intelligence asset to the battlefield, providing another platform upon which MARSOC can operate independently.
“Combat support battalion’s Marines are not only able to find and fix, they’re also able to finish,” said Fultz. “With the addition of headquarters company, which includes Multi-Purpose Canines and Joint Terminal Attack Controllers, and communications company, they’re adding a whole new piece to their kit bag, and their ability to support MARSOC worldwide.”
Fultz went on to say that MARSOC has long prided itself on its ability to task organize a fully enabled and integrated SOF capability, largely through the fusion of operations and intelligence. Combat support battalion, with its additional assets, will enhance this capability.
Growth is steady, but slow. The Corps’s gradual downsizing of 20,000 Marines is shrinking the pool that MARSOC can draw from. However, according to Fultz, that won’t be a problem. MARSOC will continue to do more with less, as all Marines do.
“We’re going to continue to ask a lot of you,” said Fultz, addressing a formation of MSOSG Marines. “We’re going to continue to push you. But I know you’ll continue to accomplish the mission."