|United States Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance|
USMC Force Reconnaissance insignia
June 19, 1957 - present*
|Allegiance||Department of Defense, Department of the Navy|
|Branch||United States Marine Corps|
|Type||Special Operations (Capable) Force|
|Role||pre/post-assault amphibious deep reconnaissance, pathfinding, direct action and other supported arms for Fleet Marine Force-level intelligence.|
|Nickname(s)||Force Recon, FORECON|
Celer, Silens, Mortalis
Operation Urgent Fury
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Restore Hope
Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Iraqi Freedom
|Bruce F. Meyers, Joseph Z. Taylor|
The Force Reconnaissance detachments, or FORECON, operate in deep reconnaissance, direct action, and the control of supporting arms; to convey military intelligence beyond the means of a commander's area of influence in the battlefield. They are capable of operating independently in combined methods of amphibious and ground operations by utilizing methods of conventional and unconventional warfare in defense of the United States.
Although Force Recon has never been part of the United States Special Operations Command, their missions slightly differentiate them from other United States Special Operations Forces units. Colloquially, their missions overlap the duties performed by the Navy SEALs and US Army Special Forces.
- 1 Mission
- 2 History
- 3 Tables of Organization
- 4 Selection and Training
- 5 Equipment
- 6 See also
- 7 External links
- 8 Notes
Reconnaissance forces are a valuable asset to the Marine Air-Ground Task Force when the MEF Commander is faced with the uncertainty that exists in the battlefield. Reconnaissance is needed to ensure that proper measures are adhered to when overcoming their adversaries, known to Marines as battlespace shaping, to act and react to the changes in the battlefield. As other Special Operations Forces are tasked and reports to USSOCOM, Marines in reconnaissance units are reserved for supporting the Marine Infantry that are directly involved in battlespace shaping.
However, Force Reconnaissance troops are employed far beyond the battlefield, the 'Area of Interest', while the Division's Recon Marines are tasked within the boundaries of the Commander's 'Area of Influence'. Both 'elite' Marine Reconnaissance units thus differ by the depth of penetration.
Many of the types of reconnaissance missions that are conducted by Marine Recon units are characterized by deep penetrations. This greatly increases the mission time, risk, and support coordination needs. Marine Recon Battalions are in charge of Close and Distant Reconnaissance as Deep Reconnaissance is normally done by Force Reconnaissance. They however both utilize these two separate and distinct missions: 1) reconnaissance and 2) direct action, both in terms of special entry. During the outset of the Vietnam War, they were known as "Key Hole" and "Sting Ray" operations. The versatility of FORECON is demonstrated when missions quickly turn from a deep recon to a direct action, whether it was planned or not.
Green Side Operations
Tasks characterized in 'deep reconnaissance' by FORECON are known as "green" side operations. These operations are missions pertaining to deep pre/post-assault amphibious reconnaissance. Marines are to observe, identify and report their adversaries by collecting any intelligence of military importance to MAGTF. They may also be tasked in battle damage assessment (BDA) missions. Green operations may consist of hydrography, beach, routes, and urban areas recon. They may initiate terminal guidance in landing and dropzones for heliborne, airborne, or waterborne operations, to include forward operating sites for aircraft. They may collect tactical imagery as well in placing or recovering remote sensors and beacons. Silence and stealth are vital to reduce chances or contact with the enemy and mission compromise. This enables them to carry out ground and amphibious reconnaissance and forward observing without interruptions, a single shot heard often will fail the mission.
Black Side Operations
These missions are known as direct action, or DA missions. These operations are the flip side to Green Side missions -- Marines get up "close and personal" and go looking for trouble. Examples of Black Ops are seizures of gas/oil platform (or GOPLAT) and the visit, board, search and seizure (or VBSS) of ships (maritime interdiction operations (MIO). Orchestrating Close Air Support is a vital skill exercised in DA missions, where Recon units will observe from static positions and spider holes. They also provide Personal Security Details (PSD) for critically important personnel. In-Extremis Hostage Rescue was one the tasks oriented by FORECON, this role now has been reserved for the special operations forces.
Marine Corps Test Unit #1
Two atomic bombs were dropped in Japan ending World War II, it was then at this moment that lessons were learned about nuclear weapons which encouraged Colonel Robert E. Cushman, Jr. to question then-Marine Commandant Alexander A. Vandegrift about a feasible massive amphibious landing over small areas subject to potential tactical nuclear weapons.
- "The tiny island, the single port, the small area...these will no longer be proper objectives. We must think in terms of 200 miles in width and depth."
Several years later, on July 1, 1954, Commandant Lemuel C. Shepherd activated Marine Corp Test Unit, or MCTU#1 under his staff’s recommendation that the Marine Corps is in need of a ‘specialized’ unit performing missions outside the Fleet Marine Force to develop special tactics, techniques and organizational concepts to the nuclear age, under operational control of the Commandant of the Marine Corps.
General Shepherd appointed Colonel Edward N. Rydalch as the Test Unit's Commanding Officer (CO) and Lieutenant Colonel Regan Fuller as the Executive Officer (XO) over command of 104 Marine officers, 1,412 enlisted, 7 naval doctors and chaplain; and 51 Hospital Corpsmen. Table of Organization: one Headquarters and Service Company; one infantry battalion consisted of four companies; one 75mm anti-tank platoon; one 4.2-inch mortar platoon; one 75mm pack howitzer artillery battery. Furthermore, a Marine Air Wing element attached along with administrative and logistic support at the request from nearby MCAS El Toro.
During the Korean War, helicopters were first used by the Marines in combat. Commandant Shepherd and his staff was interesting into other innovative methods of reconnaissance that could be performed. They recommended planning for a greater mobility and dispersion as well as operating further distances inland from sea. A unit capable of introducing combined supporting arms with heliborne capabilities and make it integral in methods of reconnaissance. Mockups of Sikorsky helicopters made from improvised lumber materials combined with repetitive exercises, by early 1955 the unit became well-organized tasked in heliborne insertions.
In March 1955, MCTU#1 partipated in shot 'Bee' in Operation Teapot, a series of tactical nuclear weapons tests with active nuclear warheads conducted at the Atomic Commission Research test. During exercise "Desert Rock IV", they manuevered near ground zera acting an amphibous battalion landing force in a nuclear environment, simulated in trenches and a mock built-up facility to resemble an urbanized city.
April 1955, Bruce F. Meyers reported to the CO of the Test Unit and was assigned to the unit's Battalion as the Assistant Operations Officer, working under Maj. Bob Bohn. Meyers spent a year cross-trained in the parachutist and pathfinder courses provide by the Navy and Army Colonel Rydalch started making critical changes in the organization to establish elements withing the unit that "validated reconnaissance theories and techniques of all-helicopter assault, not only they apply to the battalion landing team level but to higher levels as well."
This led to the establishment of the Plans and Development (P&D) Section and Reconnaissance Platoon, commanded by Capt Joseph Z. Taylor in September of 1955. He began to assemble and train the Marines who will become the nucleus of 1st Force Reconnaissance Company by bringing fresh submarine and rubber raft experiences to the test unit. Taylor recently returned from reconnaissance exercise (RECONEX) 551 on Iwo Jima aboard the USS Perch (ASPP-313) with 3rd Recon Battalion. Prior to duty abroad in 1950, he served as a reconnaisance company commander under, who is currently the test unit's XO, Regan Fuller's 2nd Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion (who was a Major at that time).
Not until April 1956, the quote requirements has sent a handful of Marines from the unit on Temporary Additional Duty (TAD) to the United States Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia. To prevent anyone from not completing the course and lose Marines, the test unit conducted its own "pre-jump school" with the helping of Sergeant Robert Zweiner, a parachute rigger from an Air Delivery Platoon on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. Robert Zweiner became the founder and head of the Parachute Loft (or Paraloft) of 1st Force Reconnaissance Company.
Every Marine has passed the school, earning their silver wings, however, Meyers have being the only one in MCTU#1 with free-fall experience, the Marines were then sent to the U.S. Naval Parachute Unit under the instructions of very highly qualified navy jumpmaster Chief Warrant Officer Lewis T "Lew" Vinsen at the Naval Auxillary Air Station in El Centro, California in July 1, 1956. Due to the free exchange and cross-training cooperation in these efforts. On one jump, Joseph Kittinger, USAF jumped times with the Marines of MCTU#1..
Jump logs during 1956-67 has shown various types of parachutes and different carrier-based aircraft that they have experimented in finding alternative methods in reconnaissance entry, such as the Douglas F3D Skyknights and A-3 Skywarriors, and the Grumman TF-1 Trader, launching the first HALO/HAHO jumps in Marine Corps history.
In 1957, it was decided that a battalion-size force reconnnaissance will be assembled and reorganized from the Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion with a new T/O and T/E that will directly be under Fleet Marine Force yet detachable to the Marine Air-Ground Task Forces and Marine Divisions. On June 18, 1957, The Marines of Test Unit #1 reported to 1st Marine Division, then to Headquarters Battalion to assume command of 1st Amphibious Reconnaissance Company. The next day, on June 19, 1957 orders were received to the disbanded test unit at 1st AmphiRecon Company to designated their new command 1st Force Reconnaissance Company, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific.
Tables of Organization
Force Reconnaissance Companies are deployed within a type of larger Marine Corps units called a Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) or MEU(SOC). MEU(SOC)s are deployed onboard Amphibious Ready Groups, a group of United States Navy ships. This group is usually centered around an amphibious assault helicopter carrier (designations for these ships range between LHA, LPH, and LHD). There may be as many as three of these groups, with their attendant MEU(SOC)s, deployed around the world at any given time. The mobility and continual rotation of these formations is integral to current Marine Corps operating procedure, which sets a stated goal of being able to field a MEU(SOC) on any shore around the world within six hours of an order being given.
There are currently seven MEU(SOC)s in the Corps. In Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) I WestPac, there are three MEUs: the 11th, 13th and 15th. They are responsible for the Middle East and Persian Gulf region. In MEF II MedFloat, there are also three MEUs: the 22nd, 24th and 26th. They focus on countries around the Mediterranean Sea. The last MEF, MEF III, has only one MEU(SOC), based in Okinawa, Japan: the 31st MEU.
As of 2004, there are currently four active Marine Force Reconnaissance companies: 1st Force Reconnaissance, based at Camp Pendleton, California; 2nd Force Reconnaissance, based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company, based in Mobile, Alabama and 4th Force Reconnaissance Company, based in Honolulu, Hawaii. 5th Force Reconnaissance was folded into 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion as Bravo Company, which also deploys as the Deep Reconnaissance Company in the 31st MEU(SOC) at Okinawa.
The structure of a Force Reconnaissance Company is more similar to that of an infantry battalion than a standard company. The command element includes the Commanding Officer or CO (normally a Lieutenant Colonel), Executive Officer or XO (normally a Major), a Sergeant Major and the S1 (Administrative), S2 (Intelligence), S3 (Operations), S4 (Logistics) and S6 (Communications) officers. The bulk of the Company is divided into six platoons, under a Platoon Commander (Captain) and a Platoon NCO (Sergeant, Staff Sergeant or higher). One of the six platoons is a scout/sniper unit retained from the MEU's Battalion Landing Team. Force Recon units also include U.S. Navy Corpsmen as integrated combat medical personnel, and, like corpsmen in all Marine Corps units, these corpsmen receive the exact same training as the members of the units they support.
Selection and Training
Entrance in to FORECON is an extensive and demanding process in which Marines will attend the selection process known as the Reconnaissance Indoctrination and Selection. Marines from any other Reconnaissance unit still must undergo screening as there are no other exceptions into Force Reconnaissance. As there are Marine Officers in the command element of the Force Recon Companies, it is unlikely for an officer to be inserted with a Force Recon team as they are reserved as the supporting commander; officers within the Maritime Special Purpose Force accepts deployment of commissioned officers in limited scale raids during DA missions.
In order for Marines to be accepted for the 'Indoc', they must require:
- current physical
- GT score of 105
- CWS-1 swim qualification
- 20/20 vision; with minimum correction allowed. Laser-eye surgery is acceptable as long 20/20 is corrected.
- Normal color vision (with exceptions of able to identify color contrast between red and green)
- Good Pro/Cons.
- Security Clearance required
The 48-hour Reconnaissance Indoctrination and Screening is held once each month at either Camp Pendleton, CA or Camp Lejuene, NC as each unit hold their selection differently in their selection process. Basically the morning starts off with a standard physical fitness test, a 3-mile run, stomach crunches and chin-ups. Marine candidates must obtain a First Class score of 285 or higher to continue the indoc.
Since Marines are amphibious by nature, they will proceed to the pool next where they will perform water aerobics and underwater push ups while wearing boots and cammies. To simulate a magazine-fed weapon, they swim to the bottom of pool with a depth of 25 feet to retrieve a brick, a 10-pound center-block. They must carry it to the surface and swim it to the a designated spot. Also, the candidates tread water with rubber rifles (or known as a "rubber duck") above their head for 30 minutes.
The candidates then run the Obstacle Course, or "O" Course a few times on the next day. Here the Marines are determined by their effort of how they attempt the course and not by who finishes first. After the "O" Course, marines then attend the Ruck Sack Run with a ruck sack containing a 50-lbs sand bag and a "rubber duck" for a timed 8-mile run. The Candidates must keep up a pace of 4-5 mph or else they are dropped and sent back to their original unit. Any Marine participating as a candidate may at any time dropout and retake the indoc test later; it is common that many Marines will attempt the screening a few times before succeeding.
After the screening, the remaining candidates are then placed for a psychological screening and an interview. For Officers, they are interviewed by the Company Commander, while Enlisted Marines, the Company Sergeant Major and other Senior NCOs.
Mission Training Plan
Phase 1: Individual Training
Once the Marines are accepted for further training, they are inducted into the first step of the excessive "pipeline" whereas Marines will undergo extensive training in 'specialized" schools that is known to last for two years until becoming full-fledged Force Reconnaissance Operators.
This first step, Marines are placed in Reconnaissance Indoctrination Platoons, or RIP. This is the next step for honing and progressing their skills necessary to function within a Force Reconnaissance Company. Also acts as another selection and screening board to 'weed out' the lesser motivated Marines (aside from the Reconnaissance Indoctrination and Screening).
The candidates are given further training in patrolling, amphibious reconnaissance, communications and land orientation which will warm-up the Marines before attending the rigorous and demanding Basic Reconnaissance Course. While in the RIP, candidates are issued a 12 foot rope; at any time instructors will demand the candidates to tie knots (they've learned during RIP) of his choosing. To the common practice, the candidates are often known as "ropers".
The Force Recon Marines that are qualified and already have obtained the MOS 0321/8654 will take advantage of this phase to attend other specialized schools while the candidates must continue their training before moving onto Phase 2 of the MTP. They attend the Ranger, Pathfinders, Long Range Surveillance Course in Fort Benning, GA, Emergency Medical Technician Course at the Naval Base Kitsap, Low-Level Static Line and Military Free-fall Jumpmaster Course, Winter/Summer Mountain Leadership Course, Helicopter Rope Suspension Training (HRST) Master, Scout/Sniper Course, and the High Risk Personnel (HRP) Course.
During this phase, the candidates attend the Basic Reconnaissance Course (BRC) at the School of Infantry, East and West coast. This course used to be taught at the Amphibious Reconnaissance School, which is located either at NAB Coronado, CA or Little Creek, VA of the Expeditionary Warfare Training Group, Pacific or Atlantic. Since 2007, due to the availability of housing the facilities, and coordinated support of personnel, the course has been moved to its new locations.
The course is 49-days long with the average training day of 13.5 hours. This course is what introduces them to the Force Reconnaissance environment. Marines will gain a working knowledge of the reconnaissance doctrine, concepts and techniques that emphasize on ground and amphibious reconnaissance missions. To fill a spot in the school, the Marine must have been on one year deployment and a minimum of two years left on their contract, or make a commitment in reenlisting. The candidates will receive basic knowledge of coxswain skills in planning, organizing, and execution in operating the Combat Rubber Reconnaissance Craft and necessary skills in operating the on board motor, launch and recovery procedures, over-the horizon (OTH), amphibious raids, and operations in the surf zone Also, maritime navigation is included in the training program, as well as the launch and recovery procedures of the CRRC.
Other training includes beach reconnaissance, underwater and breach demolitions, communications, rough terrain skills, and scout swimming. Also, they will learn the fundamentals of weapons of all types (air, sea, and land) that are employed in supporting arms in interfacing with calling and adjusting naval gunfire, artillery, close air support (CAS). They will practice day and night in learning to operate behind enemy lines and conduct immediate action drills when encountered. Photography with a field camera and underwater camera for surveillance are also taught along with field sketching where they include to learn range estimations. Above all, they learn insertion/extraction techniques in Helicopter Rope Suspension Training, such as fast roping, rappelling, and SPIE rigging.
Even though every Marine in the past have read a map and patrolling, training is more in depth to ensure that the candidates will receive the skills to efficiently work in a recon team. Upon graduation, Marines and Corpsmen will then receive the MOS 0321 or NEC 8427; The Marines who are already qualified as parachutist and/or USMC combatant divers and completed the BRC will be assigned as MOS "B" 8654.
In order for Marines to remain undetected, they utilize the fundamentals of underwater infiltration in order to execute their objectives. The USMC Combatant Diver Course is created for that reason. The course is taught at the Navy Diving and Salvage Training Center in Panama City, FL. During this eight-week course that they are introduced to open and the closed-circuit diving (using the LAR-V rebreather), diving physics and medicine, to give first aid to personal or other casualties in cause of diving-related hazards. Most of the training in combatant diving is mostly done at night
This course is to provide the Marines with the best possible combat underwater tactical swimming training available and developing the skills required to successfully conduct an underwater infiltration and exfiltration required by the Marine Corps Orders pertaining the reconnaissance doctrine. The candidates will learn through classroom instructions on physical training, drown-proofing and pool familiarization. Given the confidence and capabilities as a combatant diver enables the Marines to negotiate long distance in open water infiltrating in surface and sub-surface, and learn to deal with the hazards of a "surf zone" tangle, simulating equipment malfunction; to learn how to regain control without panicking.
The purpose for learning open-circuit instills the discipline that involves in descending and ascending procedures, searching for lost, submerged equipment, and day/night surface compass swims as closed-circuit emphasizes on the sub-surface navigation infiltration and exfiltrations. The combatant divers course combines lecture, demonstration, and practical application in gas mixtures of oxygen and nitrogen and oxygen charging procedures by using the USMC Oxygen Transfer Pump System, or USMC OTPS. Upon completion of the course, the candidates are honored with the Special "B" MOS 8643.
Next in the pipeline is Jump School, the bread of butter of FORECON. After they graduated from the BRC and USMC Combatant Diver Course, they are introduced to the skill of parachuting at the United States Army Airborne School stationed abroad Fort Benning, Georgia. This course is outlined to teach candidates in insertion with a parachute. This course is separated into three training weeks, Ground, Tower and Jump Week.
Ground Week - Marines are introduced to the MC-5 Ram parachute. This Ram Air parachute is combined for low-level static line (LLSF) and military free-fall (MFF). He will learn to properly execute a Parachute Landing Fall (PLF) by absorbing the shock of landing and learn to distribute across the balls of the feet, calf, thigh, buttocks, and back muscle and the proper procedures of exiting an aircraft via static line, landing safely land in an Drop Zone (DZ).
Tower Week - Two towers are used for training, the Swing-Landing Tower, or SLT and the "Tower". The SLT is a 12-foot high platform to simulate the downward inertia and oscillation of an actual jump. Instructors have full control of the SLT and can make it challenging as they can determine how hard or soft the Marine will land. The 250-feet high "Tower" is designed for PLFs, practicing landing during the descent.
Jump Week - In order for a Marine to earn his "silver wings", he is to perform five parachute jumps; an individual jump, and another with tactical assembly, mass exiting jump with equipment - day and night, and an individual mass exiting jump. In order to earn the USN/USMC parachutist badge, or "gold wings", he must perform and additional five jumps; to include a day/night slick jump which is without equipment, and the fifth jump is a water jump. A Marine that is Parachutist Qualified is assigned the MOS 8652.
By then, the candidates are now officially Force Recon Marines and they still must undergo training in Individual Training Phase such as the Survial, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School at either NAS North Island, CA, located north of NAB Coronado, CA or NAS Brunswick, ME. In this 12-day course, the training curriculum is divided into 3 phases; phase one consist of classroom lesson, lectures and demonstrations. The second phase deals with six field laboratory days, and debriefs and graduation is in the last phase.
While Level A is mainly taught for Recruits or candidates in OCS. It is this base that provides Level C Code of Conduct that is necessary for Force Recon as they are a high risk, since they are the "eyes" and "ears" the MEF commander, carrying knowledge of pertinent information in the battlefield.
Any additional survival training in Level C Code of Conduct may include the five-day Peacetime Detention and Hostage Survival (PDAHS) training. This training provide the skills necessary to survive in a hostile government and/or terrorist cell captivity during peacetime.
Phase 2: Unit Training
After the Marines have undergone all the training required to be a qualified FORECON Marine, they regroup together within the Company and train together, purposely formed for team-building which is essential for a recon team to successfully complete their objectives. During this six-month phase, experienced Staff NCOs and Officers from the S3 section in the Company are charged with conducting training packages. They are called the T-Cell, and has proven useful for this portion of the training as it allows the experienced FORECON operators within the T-Cell to elaborate any training on everything Marines will be hardened against.
The Long Range Communications Package is a three-week course covered by the Communication Section. As Force Recon operates in deep reconnaissance, to report observations, call for fire or extraction, they need to understand to use the equipment that they have at bay. It includes training in Long Range High Frequency, multi-band, digital and satellite communications (SATCOM).
The first two week of the Weapons and Tactics Package involves 5000-8000 rounds fired from the M4 Carbine equipped with a Special Operations Peculiar Modification kit and the MEU(SOC) .45 ACP. A live fire and maneuvering exercise is conducted on the third week in immediate action (IA) drills in close range of rotary wing support as well as transportation.
As the Marines become familiar with their weapons, they conduct field exercise, force-on-force, live fire drills using a militarized version of the Simunitions kit called the Special Effects Small Arms Marking Systems, or SESAMS. They are marking cartridge ammunition that contains a small plastic sabot round encasing a colored detergent, or paint; usually red or blue.
The one-week Threat Weapons Familiarization package concludes knowledge of weapons in identification and operation of threat weapons used by adversaries of the United States. Threat Weapons consists of assault, automatic and mobilized weapons.
Force Fires Package will give the Marines a working knowledge of fixed and rotary wing close air support and Naval Gun Surface Fire (NGSF) by utilizing the AN/PEQ-1A Laser Acquisition Marker, or (SOFLAM) to "paint" their targets.
In order to rapidly deploy FORECON on a mission-oriented tasks requires fast mobilization; the Mobile Reconnaissance package covers all aspects in operating and maintaining the M998 HMMWV and the Interim Fast Attack Vehicle. The current IFAV is a replacement of the two earlier FAVs, the M-151A2 and the Chenowth FAV that were employed in the 1980s and 1990s.
The Advanced Airborne package is extremely important for Recon Marines when it comes to inserting behind enemy lines. In this three-week period, Marines will make the changing approach from conventional LLSL insertions into the hallmark of HAHO techniques. Usually it consists of night consecutive night jumps with night combat equipment, but also HAHO training are exhibited in the Paraloft of the S3 Section using a complex virtual reality-based computer system. While wearing a VR headset device, the Marines hang suspended from the Paraloft ceiling that resembles the MC-5 Ram Air parachute. Many simulations are factored in this Virtual Reality Parachute Simulation; it allows the Marine to jump at high altitudes and visually check his main canopy for proper deployment, alleviate malfunctions, to cutaway and deploy a reserve parachute, then employ guidance and control to an unmarked drop zone (DZ).
Many other trainings are listed to mold the Marines into a fully functional recon unit, many training packages include long range patrolling in desert areas to dissemble desert regions such as Kuwait (which is taught either at 29 Palms or Yuma AZ.), mountainous terrain and many other regions and environments that they may face in peacetime or during a conflict. It is vital for each and every Marine to apply all their skills in order for their team to accomplish the missions that are at hand.
Combat Trauma Package is an examination of first aid and medical treatment that can prepares Marines in many realistic scenarios where Marines can become casualties. Since Marines will be either in the swamps, in the water, helocasting, or jumping from aircraft. This package is built for Marines to give them confidence and knowledge to apply medical attention to themselves or others while operating in hazard environments whether they are engaged in combat or not.
Combatant Dive Package is designed for concentrating on the unit's capabilities in the water. They will learn more about the LAR V rebreather as they have been taught at the USMC Combatant Dive Course. The T-Cell will introduce the Diver Propulsion Device (DPD) and the "buddy line", a plastic pipe made from composite plastics that every every marine is attached to. This ensures that the team remain close together as the water may be impossible for visuals contact in subsurface swimming.
While Marines were introduced to amphibious reconnaissance from the BRC, the T-Cell outlines the Amphibious Training package before they are attached to a MEU(SOC), this package refines their ability to conduct amphibious operations, and conventional and selected maritime special operations capabilities incorporating all their skills for Marines to work as a team.
Phase 3: MEU(SOC) Training
This training phase concentrates more in direct action while the unit training phase was involving more in the "greenside" operations. The next phase in training is conducted by the Special Operations Training Group (SOTG). The mission of the SOTG is to qualify and prepare the Marines attached to the MEU to be 'Special Operations Capable' (required by MEF) for mission-oriented operations through series of courses before they are bound for a six-month deployment. These course involves close quarters combat and applied science in demolition, Gas/Oil Platform (GOPLAT) training, Cordon and Search, Visit, Board, Search, & Seizure, shipboard assaults training and humanitarian operations.
Urban warfare came to be the most dangerous for any Soldier or Marine to be engaged in combat. Since the first time the Marine Corps has fought in a built-up area in Huế City, Vietnam, the U.S military concluded that a new doctrine is to be formed as they face a new era of urban warfare, bringing the battlefront from a sparsely populated area to the city. To hone these skills, Marines are introduced to the "Shooting House", a maze-like structure that is designed to facilitate any combat scenario they may face while conducting a room-to-room search and sweep.
After they are taught the skills to operating in DA missions, they participate in a Training in Urban Environment Exercice (TRUEX). The municipal, state, and federal officials such as the local and state police, fire departments, the Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigations have coordinated to make this training as realistic as possible for Marines. Force Recon Marines will get together with the MEU and conduct the Special Operations Capable Exercise, or SOCEX for preparation for any world conflict to peacekeeping/humanitarian operations.
Phase 4-5: MEU(SOC) Pre/Post-Deployment
Force Reconnaissance will be under a sustainment of training on a daily basis during their six-month deployment. 1st Force Recon Company on the West Coast embarks to the Persian Gulf, 2nd Force Recon of the East Coast deploys to the Mediterranean Sea. Upon returning from deployment, the cycle continues with the first phase in the cycle. The Marines can either choose a career path, leave the company and return to their previous or new command or stay with Force Recon to begin the cycle starting with the Individual Training Phase all over again.
- A "boonie hat", more recognizable to the general public as a fishing-style hat in camouflage pattern.
- Camouflage Utility Uniforms; Marines are now issued the new "MARPAT" Marine Pattern utility uniforms with a "digital" or pixelated camouflage pattern.
- A load bearing vest (LBV), a vest with many pouches for carrying ammunition and supplies. This could either be the current standard issue second generation US Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment (MOLLE) Fighting Load Carrier vest (FLC) or the late 1980s to early 1990s US Integrated Individual Fighting System (IIFS) non-modular load bearing vest (LBV-88) (the latter of which is actually more popular, since the current issue MOLLE is considered not durable enough for prolonged use by many Marines), or an operator-bought third-party LBV. Chestrigs are currently very popular amongst the operational units.
- A rucksack, a large backpack for carrying items that need not be often accessed. Many Marines have publicly voiced a preference for the seventies-era All-purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment (ALICE) packs over the unreliable modern MOLLE packs, but individual operators may buy third-party packs which surpass both aforementioned government issue products in durability. The MOLLE packs are currently being replaced by the Arcteryx designed ILBE.
- Rations, toiletries, fuel, water, ammunition, etc.
- Primary weapon depends on the Marine's role in the squad. It can range from carbines (M4) to rifles (M16, M14) to squad automatics (M249 SAW).
The MEU(SOC) Pistol
Force Recon uses a modified and improved M1911A1 .45 pistol, originally introduced in 1924, and largely replaced in 1985 by the 9 mm M9 due to logistic concerns (the M1911/M1911A1 used .45 ammunition, whereas the rest of NATO used 9 mm ammunition) and capacity issues (the M9 features a 15-round, double-stack magazine, while the older M1911A1 only holds 7 rounds in a standard single-stack magazine). The pistol is constructed at the Precision Weapons Section at Quantico, Virginia, and are made from original service M1911 frames dating back to the 1940s. MEU(SOC) pistols use a variety of parts from different high-end manufacturers (they are all hand-built and maintained; no two MEU(SOC) .45s are exactly the same) and are some of the most reliable pistols in the world. When a pistol malfunctions due to wear and is irreparable without special equipment or parts, the pistol is sent back to Quantico for repairs. Repairs include changing slides and various parts, but the frames are never changed, as the U.S. government no longer produces them (many of the frames have gone through hundreds of thousands of rounds).
The MEU(SOC) pistol will be replaced by a commercially-produced improved MEU(SOC) pistol. The Interim Close Quarters Battle (ICQB) pistol produced by Kimber for MCSOCOM Detachment One is not a replacement for the MEU(SOC) pistol.
Springfield Armory is currently supplying the new MEU(SOC) pistols.
A lightweight ballistic helmet that incorporates excellent ballistic protection with the ability to interface with most tactical communications headsets and microphones utilized by high-speed units, replacing the bulky standard issue PASGT "K-pot." This helmet is now in use with most acitve duty US Army units, and is available in three design varieties. This helmet is also available to civilian consumers for around $450 USD per helmet. Two versions of the MICH, the 2000 and 2002 models are preferred, the difference being that the 2002 has earlobes that extend about half the distance than the 2000-series MICH earlobes.
- The MICH Helmet and a hands-free communications headset (usually a TELEX Stinger 700) and tactical goggles. A NOMEX balaclava (a hood with a large opening for the eyes). NOMEX is a fire-retardant fabric developed post-Korean War for use by aircraft pilots that has since been found useful for many other applications.
The Full Spectrum Battle Equipment Amphibious Assault Vest, Quick-Release (FSBE AAV QR)
A light weight assault vest system that incorporates protection (in the form of soft armor coupled with hard ballistic inserts) with cargo retention capabilities (in the form of various pouches and pockets attached via standard PALS webbing). The entire FSBE kit includes the vest body, a throat protector, a groin protector and an assortment of load bearing pouches. A fully loaded vest with armor plates can prove quite heavy, and is only used in high-risk DA (direct action) missions. This vest is unique in its quick release system, where the Marine can ditch the entire vest very quickly in case of emergency. This quick release (ditch) feature (now also used on newer modular plate carriers such as the Paraclete Releasable Assault Vest) was developed in response to a December 9, 1999 CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter crash over the Pacific, where several members of 5th Platoon, 1st Force Reconnaissance Company drowned because they could not eject their heavy armor in time to swim away freely. Only one Marine was able to successfully ditch his equipment and survive. The FSBE vests are manufactured by Point Blank Armor (US), but Recon operators purchase additional modular load bearing pouches from a number of manufacturers.
The CIRAS suite of equipment manufactured by Eagle Industries is currently the new FSBE II system, and has replaced the FSBE AAVs.
Prior to this, the FSBE series replaced the older Close Quarters Battle Equipment Assault Vest (CQBE AV) that had been used by Force Recon since 1996. This kit is available to civilians, with prices for the FSBE vest body starting at $500 USD. This price does not include any ancillary pouches or soft armor or hard ballistic armor inserts.
- FSBE vest (earlier years) or the now standard Land CIRAS or Maritime CIRAS with attached pouches for magazines, grenades, flashbangs, breaching charges, gas masks, medical supplies and communications equipment. Ballistic insert plates are used in this case.
- NOMEX flightsuits and NOMEX aviator's gloves. These are usually sage-green in color, but there is a khaki version as well for desert operations.
- High-tensile nylon pistol belt or rigger's belt with suspenders, used to attached more pouches or drop-leg devices. This may be worn like a traditional belt (mostly rigger's belts) to keep their trousers, or as a second belt, specifically for equipment.
- A thigh-mounted tactical holster (usually a Safariland 6004 holster) with the MEU(SOC) .45 sidearm, at times with an underframe flashlight installed. This sidearm is usually attached to the operator's belt via a retention lanyard.
- Another drop-belt thigh setup on the leg opposite the operator's handedness, either with a "dump" pouch, for easily stowing spent magazines, or additional ammunition and munitions pouches.
- Tactical kneepads and elbow pads, for protection and operator comfort as he moves into various firing positions.
- Boots, or specialized hiking shoes (seen in Iraq).
- The primary weapon for Force Recon is the M4A1 Close Quarters Battle Weapon (CQBW), which replaced the Heckler & Koch 9 mm MP5 in 1998. M4s can be found configured with a variety of reflex sights and attachments for quicker target acquisition.
- A back-worn scabbard for a breaching shotgun, either a Remington 870, a Mossberg 500, or a Benelli M1014.
Interim Fast Attack Vehicle (IFAV)
These are deployed and used by Force Recon. Force Recon used to operate a fleet of Desert Patrol Vehicles (formerly known as Fast Attack Vehicles or FAVs for short), popularized by the Navy SEALs as the "black dune buggy". However, this vehicle lacked cargo capacity and firepower, so Force Recon moved to a militarized Mercedes-Benz G-Class, also known as a G-wagon, 290 GDT diesel 4x4, a much more traditional "Jeep" type truck. The vehicle has only minimal armor, but numerous defensive weapons, including a Mk 19 automatic 40 mm grenade launcher. This vehicle is manufactured by MAGNA STEYR (Austria) for Mercedes-Benz (Germany).
M3A1 Grease Gun (during Vietnam War), M4A1 Close Quarters Battle Weapon (CQBW) with SOPMOD kit, M203 grenade launcher, Colt Commando, M9 pistol, M16A2, M40 Sniper Rifle, Designated Marksmen Rifle (DMR), M82A3 SASR .50 anti-materiel weapon, M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, Mk 19 Grenade Launcher, Model HD .22 Pistol, M240 General Purpose Machine Gun, Remington 870, M2HB .50 heavy machine gun, Mossberg 500, M79 grenade launcher (Vietnam Era - still in use), H&K MP5N SMG (replaced by M4A1)
- US Marine Corps
- Force Recon Association
- 3rd Force Reconnaissance Co.
- 4th Force Reconnaissance Co.
- SpecialOperations.com Marine Recon Page
- Marine 3rd Recon Bn., 31st MEU(SOC)
- Recon Marines
- Global Security USMC Unit Listings
- SpecWarNet: USMC Recon Battalions
- FM 7-92, The Infantry Reconnaissance Platoon and Squad (Airborne, Air Assault, Light Infantry)
- MCRP 2-1C, Marine Air-Ground Task Force Intelligence Dissemination
- MCO 3500.20B, 05 Oct 2004
- FMFM 2-1, Intelligence, 30 Sep 1980
- MCWP 2.15.1, Remote Sensor Operatons
- Bruce F. Meyers, Fortune Favors the Brave, 2000; Chap. 4, para.1 (pg. 38)
- Bruce F. Meyers, Fortune Favors the Brave, 2000; Chap. 4, para.2 (pg. 38)
- Edward N. Rydalch, CO of MCTU#1 ltr to Lemuel C Shepherd, CMC, May 12, 1955.’’
- Edward N. Rydalch, ’’Briefing for SecNav Thomas Gates on Marine Corps Test Unit #1’’, Oct 16, 1956
- in aide memoir to Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr., CMC, ’’Note for... Briefing’’, May 12, 1955
- ltr fr Edward N. Rydalch, CO, Marine Corps Test Unit 1 to Lemuel C. Shepherd, CMC; May 12, 1955
- Edward N. Rydalch, CO of MCTU#1 ltr to Lemuel C. Shepherd, CMC; ‘’Request for Specialized Training for Reconnaissance Platoon’’, Oct 3, 1955
- Bruce F. Meyer, Fortune Favors the Brave, 2000; line 2, pg. 44
- Michael Lee Lanning and Ray W. Stubbe, Inside Force Recon: Recon Marines in Vietnam, May 29, 1989; pg. 33
- Bruce F. Meyers, Fortune Favors the Brave, 2000; pg. 47
- MARADMIN 417/07, Reconnaissance Marine Lateral Move Policy and Procedures
- MCO 1543.12 W/Ch.1, Material Fielding Plan for the Combat Rubber Reconnaissance Craft, 09 Jun 1993
- MCO 3500.42A, 09 Jul 2004
- MCO 1510.125, Individual Training Standard for Marine Combat Water Survival, 30 Dec 02
- Operational Requirements Document, Underwater Reconnaissance Capability
- MCO 3502.2A, Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) Special Skills Certification Program
- MCO 3502.3A, Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) Predeployment Training Program