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U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Frederick Owens, a squad leader with Battalion Landing Team 1/8, prepares to move off an objective with a critical skills operator from Marine Forces Special Operations Command during an integration training event on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Nov. 21, 2023. MARSOC worked with Marines from BLT 1/8 to increase interoperability with the Fleet Marine Force. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Henry Rodriguez)

Photo by Cpl. Henry Rodriguez

MARSOC conducts small unit tactics training with BLT 1/8

11 Dec 2023 | Cpl. Henry Rodriguez Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command

CAMP LEJEUNE, NC – For the past 15 months, Marine Raiders from Marine Forces Special Operations Command  trained alongside Marines from Battalion Landing Team 1/8, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, to build the most capable forces possible.

The trainings have enhanced the operational readiness of both Marine Special Operations Companies in their core capabilities, as well as the level of performance seen by the Battalion Landing Team. Lt. Col. William Kerrigan, BLT 1/8 commanding officer, has placed an emphasis on raising the level of training for his Marines by working with MARSOC and other special operations forces, such as Naval Special Warfare, as often as possible.

“Ever since Lt. Col. Kerrigan took command at BLT 1/8, we’ve really ramped up the integration with MARSOC,” said Sgt. Frederick Owens, a squad leader with the BLT. “My platoon, alone, has worked with them multiple times in the last year.”

In that time, Marines from BLT 1/8 have trained with Marine Special Operations Teams and Companies from each of MARSOC’s three Marine Raider Battalions. The training events included a variety of live-fire events: marksmanship on both flat ranges and indoor shoot houses, emphasizing small unit tactics in a kinetic environment; mortar fire training to compare standard operating procedures between BLT 1/8 mortar platoon and MARSOC’s mortarmen; and squad and company level ground, air, and amphibious raids with MARSOC tactical support.

Additional integration between the two parties took place on exercises, such as BLT 1/8’s Marine Corps combat readiness evaluation and MARSOC’s Exercise Raven, a special operations forces level certifying exercise that all MSOCs attend before deploying. At every phase of training, preparation from both units ensured the mutual benefit had in relation to their relevant mission demands and requirements.

“It really is a win-win,” said a Team Chief on a Marine Special Operations Team with MARSOC. “We get to work on our ability to do foreign internal defense and the infantry Marines work through their small unit tactics and advance their skills before deploying.”

Foreign internal defense, one of MARSOC’s core capabilities, sees MSOC’s deploy to other nations and train their militaries, preparing them to conduct more complex operations.

“The more repetitions we can get on training other forces to operate at a high level, the better our processes and efficiency will be when we go down range,” added the Team Chief.

The latest of these integration training events included a live scenario that simulated a raid on an objective building where adversary combatants were housing dangerous munitions. The integration saw critical skills operators and special operations officers conduct full mission profiles alongside infantry squads.

Marine Raiders maneuvered side by side in all aspects of the training, from planning and briefing together, to being a seamless part of their assault and support elements. While developing skillsets to work more closely with partner forces outside of their team, the CSOs and SOOs were also able to highlight positive habits to increase combat effectiveness.

“It’s all about composure while you are operating,” said Lance Cpl. Liam Wood, a team leader with 1/8. “A lot of younger or more inexperienced guys have a tendency to get overwhelmed or rush, and working side by side with the CSOs, it reinforces the right way which is to remain calm and composed.”

He added, “being able to move side by side with them really reinforces what we are taught and helps us step our training up to another level.”

Beyond just the physical tactics that benefit from the integration, the CSOs  helped the infantry small-unit leaders improve their tactical evaluation.

“The CSOs are able to go into a situation and create an effective plan at a rapid pace and that has started to rub off on us as well,” said Sgt. Owens. “My thought process and how quickly I can work through problems has definitely improved from before my experiences with MARSOC.”

“It’s vital that special operations forces and conventional forces train, integrate, and complement one another,” said Lt. Col. William Kerrigan, commanding officer, BLT 1/8. “The current and future operating environments require a fast and adaptable battalion landing team that can respond to everchanging threats. From September 2022 to November 2023, Battalion Landing Team 1/8 built relationships early and often with our MARSOC teammates. Together, we learned that we have the same drive and professionalism to accomplish any mission assigned. As we look to the future, this training makes BLT 1/8 and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit more lethal, employable, and sustainable to meet geographical combatant commanders’ operational needs.”

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