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Preparing U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command Critical Skills Operator candidates for the mental, physical, and leadership challenges of Assessment and Selection is the principal goal of the newly-implemented Assessment and Selection Preparation and Orientation Course (ASPOC). The first ASPOC class began Sept. 15.

Photo by Cpl. Richard Blumenstein

MARSOC implements new training

15 Sep 2010 | Lance Cpl. Kyle McNally Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command

U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command will implement a new training course Sept. 15 at the Marine Special Operations School here. The three-week Assessment and Selection Preparation and Orientation Course (ASPOC) will serve as the precursor to the roughly three-week Assessment and Selection Course and the seven-month Individual Training Course, with the purpose of preparing MARSOC Critical Skills Operator candidates for the challenges of A&S.

“We’re trying to improve the success rate in A&S,” said a MARSOC training specialist. “We looked at some things candidates were having problems with and created a program to improve each individual’s capabilities in those areas,” he said.

The MSOS staff worked hand-in-hand with strength and conditioning coaches, physical therapists and nutritionists to create a three-week course designed to build candidates to their physical peaks by the time they reach A&S. Aside from the physical training, which includes running, swimming and hiking, the course incorporates a mix of classroom instruction and practical application of basic Marine Corps knowledge and MARSOC and Special Operations Forces fundamentals.

“The course is designed to enhance operator candidates’ physical capabilities, but also to prepare them mentally for A&S and to orient them to the roles and missions of MARSOC at the team member level,” said Col. James R. Parrington, the commanding officer of MSOS. “Marines will get a chance to interact with seasoned MARSOC CSOs as well,” he said.

Perhaps the most important element of the course is the physical therapy training, said ASPOC’s section leader.  “We’ve identified trends that cause injuries or cause people to quit,” he said. “We’re going to teach these Marines proper nutrition, what supplements to take, and what supplements not to take. We have physical therapists and strength and conditioning coaches who will teach them proper post-workout regeneration - how to warm up for physical training and how to cool down. I think we’ll see a reduction in the attrition rate because of this initiative.”

MARSOC CSO candidates are also encouraged to complete a 10-week training regimen before they arrive at A&S. However, many lack the time and resources to prepare, often because of deployments and operational tempo.

“A lot of Marines don’t have the opportunity to complete the 10-week program because they’re fighting a war right now,” said John R. Miller, the deputy officer in charge of A&S. “They don’t get a chance to acclimate to this kind of environment. Less than 24 hours after they get to A&S, they’re conducting physical training. Now we have a chance to bring them here and get them acclimated first,” he said.

But Marines are still expected to show up in shape, said ASPOC’s section leader.  “Do as much of the program as you can, and then come here,” he said. “Your chances of success will be greatly improved.”

MARSOC is always looking for better ways to select, prepare and train Marines who will be able to make critical decisions at critical times without hesitation while maintaining the physical fortitude to succeed.  ASPOC will help to better prepare Marines for the rigors of A&S and set the stage for their success as CSO’s.