United States Marine Forces Special Operations Command

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Marine Forces Special Operations Command
Seal of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC).svg
Seal of the Marine Special Operations Command
Active24 February 2006 – present[1]
Country United States of America
Branch United States Marine Corps
TypeSpecial Operations
Size3,195 positions authorized:[2]
  • 2,994 military personnel
  • 201 civilian personnel
Part ofUnited States Special Operations Command Insignia.svg U.S. Special Operations Command
Garrison/HQCamp Lejeune, North Carolina
Motto(s)"Always Faithful, Always Forward"
March"MARSOC Always Faithful, Always Forward"
Anniversaries7 September 2015
EngagementsWar on Terror
CommanderMajGen Matthew G. Trollinger
Sergeant MajorSgtMaj Anthony J. Loftus
Command Master ChiefMCPO Joseph Martin
see List of commanders

United States Marine Forces Special Operations Command[5] (MARSOC) is a component command of the United States 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 and information operations.[6]

History and lineage[edit]

Marine Raiders conduct combat operations in eastern Afghanistan.

Its creation was announced on 23 November 2005 by U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, following a meeting between him, the SOCOM 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.[7] At the time, Marine Corps leaders felt that their Force Reconnaissance (FORECON) units were best kept in the Marine Corps' Marine Air-Ground Task Force command structure and that the detachment of an elite Marine special operations unit would be to the detriment of the Marine Corps as a whole. A re-evaluation following the September 11 attacks and the Global War on Terrorism, along with new policy established by Secretary Rumsfeld and Commandant General 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 Detachment One (Det One), a small Marine Corps detachment formed as a pilot program to test Marine Corps integration into SOCOM. It was made up of mostly Marines from 1st and 2nd Force Reconnaissance Batalions along with other hand-picked support men and served with Navy SEALs under Naval Special Warfare Group One. Det One 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. Det One was disbanded in 2006 soon after the creation of MARSOC. The first of many Marine Special Operations Companies stood up in June 2006.[8]

MARSOC's initial deployment to Afghanistan in 2007 was mired in controversy when its Fox Company was sent back to the United States and its commander relieved from duty after a shooting incident. The incident that resulted in as many as 19 civilians killed involved a complex ambush by insurgents that included a suicide car bomb and small arms fire. Allegations later arose that the MARSOC operators killed the civilians while suppressing enemy fire,[9] but these allegations proved false.[10] MARSOC Marines also took part in Operation Enduring Freedom – Philippines.[11]

Following U.S. Army General David Petraeus' assumption of command in Afghanistan in 2010, in support of the ALP/VSO program (Afghan Local Police/Village Stability Operations), special forces in Afghanistan were task-organized into battalion level SOTF (Special Operations Task Forces), each with a geographic area of responsibility—for MARSOC, this was western Afghanistan and Helmand Province. In March 2012, MARSOC teams suffered several casualties to Green on Blue attacks. In July 2012, a patrol of Afghan Army commandos was ambushed by insurgents from several buildings in Badghis Province and three Afghans were wounded by small arms fire. Gunnery Sergeants Jonathan Gifford and Daniel Price raced forward on an ATV to retrieve the wounded under direct fire from the enemy. After evacuating the wounded to an emergency helicopter landing zone, they returned and assaulted the enemy positions in a fierce close-quarter battle. While throwing grenades down the chimney of an insurgent-occupied building, they were struck and killed by PKM fire; for his actions that day Price was awarded the Silver Star.[12]

On 6 August 2014, MARSOC claimed and officially bestowed the prestigious Marine Raider moniker upon their subordinate combat units (Marine Special Operations Regiment) in commemoration of the fabled and elite amphibious light infantry unit that operated during World War II.[13] Marine Corps Times reported that in 2017, Marine Raiders assisted in the liberation of Marawi from ISIS militants.[14] In February 2019, Marine Corps Times reported that since the formation of MARSOC 13 years before, it had conducted 300 operational deployments across 13 countries, awarded more than 300 valor awards and that 43 Raiders (including two military dogs) had been killed in training and combat operations.[14]

Since MARSOC's first deployment, it has become a strong partner in SOCOM and proven itself able to conduct full-spectrum special operations. They have successfully conducted both long-term counterinsurgency under the VSO program and carried out complex direct action tasks.[9]


Marine Forces Special Operations Command

The base unit of MARSOC is a fourteen-man Marine Special Operations Team (MSOT), commanded by a captain as team commander, assisted by a master sergeant as team chief. Each team has two identical squads, or tactical elements, each led by a gunnery sergeant as element leader. MARSOC is based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and is split into three subordinate commands:

Name Insignia Headquarters Description
Marine Raider Regiment[15] USMC MSOR logo.svg Camp Lejeune, NC and Camp Pendleton, CA The Marine Raider Regiment (MRR; previously MSOR-Marine Special Operations Regiment) consists of a Headquarters Company and three Marine Raider Battalions (1st, 2nd and 3rd).[16][17] The Marine Raider Battalions (MRB; previously MSOB-Marine Special Operations Battalion)[17] are tasked with direct action, special reconnaissance, counter-terrorism, and information operations. They are also trained to carry out peacetime foreign internal defense[18] and unconventional warfare. This includes giving military training to friendly foreign nations. Each MRB 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 larger unit such as an MSOC or SOTF, similar to Army Special Forces ODA/B.[19] The core personnel strength of the MRBs was initially drafted from Force Reconnaissance Marines.
Marine Raider Support Group[15] MSOSG1-LOGO.jpg Camp Lejeune, NC The Marine Raider Support Group (MRSG; previously MSOSG-Marine Special Operations Support Group),[17] composed of the Headquarters Company and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Marine Raider Support Battalions (MRSB; previously MSOSB-Marine Special Operations Support Battalion), contain the Command's administrative, and support assets.[16][17][20] The MRSG trains, equips, structures, and provides specially qualified Marine forces to augment MSOTs, including operational logistics, Marine Corps Intelligence, multipurpose canines handlers, Firepower Control Teams and communications support in order to sustain worldwide special operations missions.[21]
Marine Raider Training Center MSOS Insignia.jpg Camp Lejeune, NC The mission of the Marine Raider Training Center (MRTC; previously MSOS-Marine Special Operations School)[16][17] is to assess and select personnel for assignment to Marine Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC). They conduct language and cultural training, perform required curriculum review and updates of training material for all assigned courses, introduce and reinforce Personnel Resiliency (PERRES).[22]



All Marines are screened to ensure that the Marines joining MARSOC meet the established prerequisites for duty within the command.


Selection of the right personnel begins with a rigorous screening process designed to identify the right Marines for the right billet within MARSOC. Operational billets are open to females as of 2016.[24] Screening takes place in 3 stages: record screening, physical screening, and a psychological and medical evaluation.

Special Operations Training Course[edit]

The Special Operations Training Course (SOTC) is six weeks of unhindered, realistic, challenging basic and intermediate Special Operations Forces (SOF) warfighting skills training. During STC, the Special Operations Capabilities Specialists will also attend Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training along with a MARSOF Level 1 Course specific to their MOS: Explosive Ordnance Disposal (6 weeks), Communications (12 weeks), Intelligence (14–17 weeks), Joint Terminal Attack Controller (4 weeks), Multi-Purpose Canine (10 weeks).[25]


Critical Skills Operators (CSOs) are the primary special operations Marines within MARSOC. They are trained to execute a variety of missions. Specialized training also provides capabilities in language fluency necessary for crossing cultural barriers, allowing CSOs to connect with the local forces as well as civilians.[17] Marines designated CSOs are awarded MOS code 0372. CSOs are assigned to Marine Special Operations Teams (MSOT), Companies (MSOC), and Battalions (MSOB).

Special Operations Officers (SOOs) are Marine Corps officers awarded the MOS code 0370. Officer candidates trying to obtain this MOS have to be rank of first lieutenant or higher and must go through similar training and more compared to enlistees. SOO candidates will attend Assessment & Selection (A&S) Phase 1 and 2 together with their enlisted counterparts. Upon successful A&S Phase 1 and 2 completion, Marines selected for assignment as CSOs or SOOs attend Individual Training Course (ITC). Officers attending ITC will also attend MARSOC Team Commander's Course (MTCC), which coincides with ITC. Once all training has been completed, SOOs will be sent to their Marine Special Operations Teams, Companies, and Battalions.

Special Operations Combat Service Specialists (SOCS-Ss) are combat service support Marines who serve one standard tour with MARSOC in their primary MOS. Their training includes core skills for joint and interagency work as well as enhanced SOF combat skills training to enable their successful integration and survivability in special operations environments.[25]

Special Operations Capabilities Specialists (SOCSs) are combat support Marines who are able to join MARSOC based upon their MOS skill. They receive advanced special operations forces training and certification. SOCSs are operational and tactical force multipliers and frequently deploy alongside CSOs. SOCS billet fields include intelligence, communications, explosive ordnance disposal, dog handlers, and fire-control specialists. SOCSs are awarded the MOS of 8071 and return to the operating forces after an extended tour of service with MARSOC.[25]


In August 2016, the Marine Corps approved a new Marine Special Operator Insignia for wear by graduates of the five-phase Individual Training Course (ITC).[26] The pin device will first be issued to the next ITC graduating class of critical skills operators. Critical skills operators and special operations officers already in the field will receive their pins later.

List of commanders[edit]

  1. Dennis Hejlik – February 2006 – April 2008
  2. Mastin M. Robeson – April 2008 – November 2009
  3. Paul E. Lefebvre – November 2009 – August 2012
  4. Mark A. Clark – August 2012 – August 2014
  5. Joseph Osterman – August 2014 – August 2016
  6. Carl E. Mundy III August 2016 – June 2018
  7. Daniel Yoo – June 2018 – June 2020
  8. James F. Glynn – June 2020 – May 2022
  9. Matthew G. Trollinger – May 2022 – present


See also[edit]


  1. ^ SOCOM Public Affairs (2014). SOCOM Fact Book 2014 (PDF). SOCOM Public Affairs. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 December 2013.
  2. ^ Special Operations Forces Opportunities Exist to Improve Transparency of Funding and Assess Potential to Lessen Some Deployments. GAO-15-571 (PDF) (Report). Government Accountability Office. July 2015. Archived (PDF) from the original on 22 March 2016. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  3. ^ "More U.S. troops are being wounded in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon quietly acknowledges". Military Times. 5 January 2017.
  4. ^ South, Todd (7 May 2018). "Leading over 800 enemy kills to guiding elite forces: These Marines were honored for combat ops". Marine Corps Times. Archived from the original on 8 May 2018.
  5. ^ "Marine Forces Special Operations Command". Marine Forces Special Operations Command. Retrieved 26 April 2020.
  6. ^ Hejlik, Dennis J; Gilmore, Cliff W.; Ingram, Matthew P (August 2006). "Special Operations Marines and the Road Ahead". Marine Corps Gazette. Marine Corps Association. 90 (8): 39. ISSN 0025-3170.
  7. ^ Seck, Hope Hodge (21 February 2015). "MARSOC remains a growing, changing force after 9 years". Marine Corps Times. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  8. ^ Bruce, Robert (10 February 2012). "MARSOC, Part 1: Devil Dogs of SOCOM". Small Arms Defense Journal. Vol. 4, no. 1. Archived from the original on 17 July 2022. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  9. ^ a b Nevillle 2015, p. 165.
  10. ^ deGrandpre, Andrew (1 February 2019). "These Marines were falsely accused of war crimes. Twelve years later, they have vindication". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 3 February 2019. Retrieved 2 February 2019 – via MSN.
  11. ^ Neville 2015, p. 183.
  12. ^ Neville 2015, p. 161-162, 166-167.
  13. ^ Lamothe, Dan (6 August 2014). "Marine Corps to adopt iconic Raiders name for its Special Operations troops". The Washington Post. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  14. ^ a b Snow, Shawn (22 February 2019). "MARSOC's tab after 13 years: 43 deaths, more than 300 valor awards, and 300 operational deployments". Marine Corps Times. Archived from the original on 27 January 2022.
  15. ^ a b Hodge Seck, Hope (11 June 2015). "MARSOC units to get Raiders name after 10-month delay". Marine Corps Times. Archived from the original on 1 July 2022. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  16. ^ a b c "Personal & Family Readiness". Marines.mil. Archived from the original on 25 September 2022. Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  17. ^ a b c d e f "MARSOC Command Pamphlet" (PDF). MARSOC. March 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  18. ^ Stahlman, Josephh (28 August 2007). "MSOAG Marines get LIT". United States Marine Corps. Archived from the original on 15 June 2008. Retrieved 20 November 2008.
  19. ^ "Questions & Responses Page". US Marine Special Operations Command. 30 October 2007. Archived from the original on 11 January 2010. Retrieved 28 May 2008.
  20. ^ "Marine Special Operations Support Group". US Marine Special Operations Command. 15 November 2008. Archived from the original on 12 February 2010.
  21. ^ "Marine Raider Support Group". MARSOC. 4 August 2016. Archived from the original on 23 September 2022. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  22. ^ "Marine Raider Training Center". MARSOC. Archived from the original on 24 September 2022. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  23. ^ a b c d e "Prerequisites" (PDF). MARSOC Recruiting. Archived from the original on 9 August 2022.
  24. ^ Schehl, Matthew L. (27 January 2016). "Marines' special operations command gets first female applicants". Military Times. Archived from the original on 11 October 2022. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  25. ^ a b c "Join Us – MARSOC Recruiting". MARSOC. Archived from the original on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  26. ^ Eckstein, Megan (23 August 2016). "Marine Corps Announces New MARSOC Insignia Pin". USNI News. U.S. Naval Institute. Archived from the original on 14 March 2021. Retrieved 23 August 2016.

Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.

Works cited[edit]

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