Marine Special Operations (MARSOC)

Marine Raiders shown at Camp Pendleton.
These U.S. Marine Raiders dash at full speed along narrow poles in January 1943. It's part of their training at Camp Pendleton, California, to make them the finest combat organization in the world. (Courtesy photo)

In October 2005, the secretary of defense directed the formation of a Marine component of U.S. Special Operations Command (MARSOC). It was determined the Marine Corps initially would form a unit of approximately 2,500 to serve with USSOCOM.

On Feb. 24, 2006, MARSOC activated at Camp Lejeune, N.C. MARSOC initially consisted of a small staff and the foreign military training unit, which had been formed to conduct foreign internal defense. FMTU then was designated as the Marine Special Operations Adviser Group.

In the months after the activation of MARSOC, the structure and personnel of 1st and 2d Force Reconnaissance Company transferred to MARSOC to form 1st and 2d Marine Special Operations Battalions.

In April 2009, MSOAG was redesignated as the Marine Special Operations Regiment with the 1st, 2d, and 3d Marine Special Operations Battalions (MSOBs) as subordinate units. The newly designated 3d MSOB incorporated the structure and personnel from MSOAG's former companies.

MARSOC also formed the Marine Special Operations Support Group and the Marine Special Operations School. The MSOSG provides combat support and combat service support to MARSOC units to include logistics, communication and intelligence. There are three subordinate commands.

The MSOS screens, assesses, selects and trains Marine Special Operations Forces and is responsible for developing doctrine.

In 2014, the Marine Commandant (Gen. James Amos) announced at a MARSOC change of command that all units in MARSOC commands would undergo a name change. The Marine Raider moniker was brought back to give an identity to the Marines fighting as MARSOC. The term "Raider" is a fabled identity that honors and links World War II Special Operations Marines to today's MARSOC Raider. As of 2015, the MARSOC regiment and battalions are now redesignated the Marine Raider Regiment, Marine Raider Support Group, Marine Raider Battalions and Marine Raider Support Battalions.

As a service component of USSOCOM, MARSOC is tasked by the commander of USSOCOM to train, organize, equip and -- when directed by commander of USSOCOM -- deploy task-organized, scalable and responsive U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations Forces worldwide in support of combatant commanders and other agencies. MARSOC has been directed to conduct foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance and direct action. The commander of USSOCOM assigns MARSOC missions based on USSOCOM priorities. MARSOC units then deploy under USSOCOM deployment orders.

MARSOC deployed its first units in August 2006, six months after initial activation. Since then, MARSOC continuously has deployed. MARSOC's current deployments include Marine Special Operations teams conducting foreign internal defense and Marine Special Operations companies from the Marine Special Operations battalions, conducting foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance and direct action.

Stew Smith works as a presenter and is on the editorial board with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).

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