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U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command


U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command

Camp Lejeune, NC

MARSOC looks for the right stuff

By Lance Cpl. Stephen C. Benson | | October 30, 2007

When most Marines enter the Corps, they have some idea of what they want to do while serving their country. Some envision themselves being a military policeman or working on aircraft. Others see themselves patrolling through the jungle with their rifle at the ready or being inserted into foreign territory by parachute under the cloak of darkness. Whatever the case, most are looking for a challenge. Some experienced Marines want to take that challenge to a unique new level and U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command may provide what they are looking for.

 To find these Marines and bring them into the special operations community, a dedicated team of Marines was established to run MARSOC's recruit, screen, assess and selection process.

 Marine Special Operations Companies, built upon the heritage and specialized expertise of the legendary Marine Force Reconnaissance Companies, are conducting special reconnaissance and direct action missions against America’s enemies in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, small teams of MARSOC Marines and Sailors draw upon 232 years of Marine Corps mastery of small wars when deployed to austere locations in Africa, South America and other foreign lands as part of a persistent engagement strategy designed to maintain stability, increase security and win wars before they ever begin.

 Throughout the past year, MARSOC companies and teams deployed 18 times to carry out special operations missions worldwide. The mission list for the upcoming year is even longer, and as MARSOC builds toward full operational capability in September 2008, the demand for Marine Special Operations Forces continues to grow.

 To meet that demand, MARSOC recruiters work tirelessly to find experienced and highly adaptive Marines who will be successful in screening, assessment and, eventually, with MARSOC. Recruiters visit units throughout the Marine Corps to present briefs, set up displays, and create and use various recruiting tools to raise interest in MARSOC. Interested candidates are then sent through the screening process.

 The screening includes several steps. First, Marines conduct a physical fitness test. They must score at least a 225 and then pass a modified second-class swim qualification. Marines also take an aptitude test and are given a psychological evaluation.

 After the screening, MARSOC candidates move on to an assessment course designed to test their mental agility, leadership ability, judgment and physical fitness. Marines and Sailors who demonstrate the ability and potential to excel at special operations missions during the assessment process are selected for assignment to MARSOC.

 Marines and Sailors who are selected may be required to return to their units to finish out that obligation first, but once they receive orders to MARSOC, they will begin the training pipeline. Starting in October 2008, all new MARSOC operators will attend an Individual Training Course designed to provide the baseline individual skills required by all MARSOC operators. Skills introduced during ITC include foreign language and culture, medical, communications, close quarter battle tactics and more.

 Marines will then move on either to one of the Marine Special Operations Battalions or the Marine Special Operations Advisor Group and begin training with their company or team. The MSOBs and the MSOAG share similar mission sets but prioritize them differently. MSOAG focuses primarily on foreign internal defense missions, while MSOBs focus primarily on direct action and special reconnaissance. As MARSOC continues to grow, its companies and teams will continue to develop capabilities in a wide range of SOF missions.

 Staff Sgt. Melbin Medina, a recruiter with RSAS, said MARSOC Marines will have the opportunity to attend almost any advanced training course available. Training opportunities include special reconnaissance, airborne, combatant diver and assault climber, scout sniper as well as U.S. Army Ranger School.

 A large part of the training Marines receive is focused on culture and language skills. One unique aspect is language immersion. For example, when a team of Marines is assigned Russian as its language, then Marines from that team may go to Russia for three to four months to absorb the culture and improve their language skills.

 “Our Marines learn so much about different countries and get a great sense of how foreign militaries work,” said Medina. “The training they get here is really going to help out the rest of the Marine Corps because, when they leave to other units, they take with them a wealth of knowledge and experience they can pass on to their junior Marines.”

 Medina, who was the chief weapons instructor with an MSOAG Team before being assigned to RSAS, said the Marines MARSOC wants are mature, intelligent and experienced. A special operations Marine needs to be able to build relationships, teach important tactics to foreign militaries, and also maintain the skills necessary to effectively conduct direct action and special reconnaissance missions when needed.

 MARSOC’s RSAS team works hard to find Marines and Sailors who are looking for new challenges, and they work just as hard to ensure MARSOC and U.S. Special Operations Command have mature and intelligent personnel to handle the unique and integral role MARSOC plays in the Global War on Terrorism.

 To learn more about what it takes to qualify as a MARSOC operator, contact the Marine Special Operations School at (910) 450-3349/3123 (DSN 750-3349/3123) or visit us online at www.marsoc.usmc.mil/recruiting.