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Marine Special Operations Regiment
USMC MSOR logo.svg
Marine Special Operations Regiment insignia
Active 2006–present
Allegiance United States
Branch United States Marine Corps
Type Special operations

Primary tasks:

  • Direct action
  • Special reconnaissance
  • Counter-terrorism

Secondary tasks:

  • Foreign internal defense
  • Unconventional warfare
  • Information operations
Size ~ 850 Commandos
Part of United States Special Operations Command Insignia.svg United States Special Operations Command
MARSOC LOGO.JPG United States Marine Corps Special Operations Command
Garrison/HQ Camp Lejeune, North Carolina
Camp Pendleton, California
Nickname(s) Raiders
Motto(s) "Always Faithful, Always Forward"
Engagements Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Colonel Steven Grass[1]

The Marine Special Operations Regiment (MSOR) is a special operations force of the United States Marine Corps and the principal combat component of the Marine Corps Special Operations Command. The Regiment's organization was finalized in 2007 and contains three battalions, the First, Second, and Third Special Operations Battalions.

Members of 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command Operators are lifted from the ground by a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter during Special Purpose Insertion/Extraction rigging at Camp Margarita, at Camp Pendleton,


The mission of the Regiment is to provide tailored military combat-skills training and advisor support for identified foreign forces in order to enhance their tactical capabilities and to prepare the environment as directed by USSOCOM as well as the capability to form the nucleus of a Joint Special Operations Task Force. Marines and Sailors of the MSOR train, advise and assist friendly host nation forces - including naval and maritime military and paramilitary forces - to enable them to support their governments' internal security and stability, to counter subversion and to reduce the risk of violence from internal and external threats. MSOR deployments are coordinated by MARSOC, through USSOCOM, in accordance with engagement priorities for Overseas Contingency Operations.

  • Direct action
  • Special reconnaissance
  • Counter-terrorism
  • Foreign internal defense
  • Unconventional warfare
  • Information operations
  • Security force assistance
  • Preparation of the environment
  • Counterinsurgency
  • Counter-Narco Terrorism
  • Hostage rescue
  • Maritime Interdiction Operations
  • Gas and Oil Platform Operations
  • Deep reconnaissance
  • Special/clandestine activities

Insertion/Extraction Techniques

  • Patrolling
  • Helicopter Touchdown
  • Helocast Personnel
  • Small Boat/RHIB
  • Rappel
  • Fast Rope
  • Special Patrol Insertion/Extraction (SPIE)
  • Parachute Static-Line
  • Over-the-Horizon Combat Rubber Raiding Craft (CRRC)
  • Kayak/Canoe



In February 2006 Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC) was created at Camp Lejeune North Carolina. The 1st and 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalions were created along with the Marine Special Operations Advisor Group (MSOAG, the predecessor of the MSOR). The majority of the combat personnel assigned to the two battalions were drawn from the Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance community and the MSOAG personnel from the conventional infantry units. In April 2009, the MSOAG was redesignated the Marine Special Operations Regiment which then built in a new level of bureaucracy by making 1st and 2nd MSOB subordinate, and redesignated MSOAG's operational Marines the 3rd Marine Special Operations Battalion. Each battalion consists of four companies and each company consists of four fourteen-man Marine Special Operations Teams.[2] The 1st and 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalions are designated as DASR battalions. These MSOBs focus on direct action raids and reconnaissance operations.

An SH-60 Seahawk waits for a simulated Medical evacuation.

The base unit of MSOR is the fourteen-man Marine Special Operations Team (MSOT). Each 14-man MSOT is organized into three elements: a Headquarters (HQ) and two identical Tactical Squads. The HQ element consists of the Team Leader (Captain), Team Chief (Master Sergeant), Operations SNCO (Gunnery Sergeant), and a Communications SNCO. Each Tactical Element consists of an Element Leader (Staff Sergeant), three Critical Skills Operators (Sergeant/Corporal), and a Navy Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Corpsman (SARC). The organization allows a Team to operate on its own if needed, but maintains the ability to operate as part of a bigger unit such as an MSOC or SOTF, similar to Army Special Forces ODA/B.

Critical Skills Operators (CSO) are the primary career field belonging to marines assigned to United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command. The Military Occupational Specialty for the Critical Skills Operators is 0372. Critical Skill Operator's work in small, highly-skilled and immaculately-trained teams. MARSOC teams are bound by trust and cohesion and work effortlessly together—giving them an advantage over many military units.


The Marine's pilot program consisted of Det One deploying to Iraq with Navy SEALs from Naval Special Warfare Group 1 in 2004. Det One formed into the Marine Special Operations Battalions and deployed to Afghanistan in 2007. This deployment was marked with controversy when elements from 2nd Battalion was ambushed. The Marines were relieved from their operational charter in the country by an Army General from USSOCOM after claims were made that the Marines reacted inappropriately and caused excessive civilian casualties.[3] In September 2009 the 1st Battalion returned to Afghanistan, this time in command of a joint special operations task force in the northwest of the country.[4][5] The MSOR was deployed supporting the Global War on Terrorism in December 2013 alongside the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) where they conducted various special operations missions, ranging from Direct action (military), reconnaissance and other mission sets.

Marines assigned to MSOB DASR (direct action special reconnaissance), fire their M4A1 carbines during CQB drills on the range. The 1st and 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalions (1st and 2nd MSOB) are designated as DASR battalions. As the name indicates, these MSOBs focus on direct action raids and reconnaissance operations.

Marines with the 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command fast-rope from a CH-47 helicopter during Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) training with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment near Camp Pendleton, Calif. MARSOC Marines train extensively in VBSS and gas/oil platform raiding

A sergeant with a Marine Special Operations Team urges Afghan National Army Commandos to move together during a drill at a rifle range outside their compound in Herat, Afghanistan 6 Nov.. Members of the 9th Commando Kandak alongside their Marine counterparts conducted a familiarization fire in order to sharpen their weapons accuracy and safety skills.

Camp Lejeune, NC - Marines with U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command freefall during a High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) training exercise at an airfield in North Carolina, 8 July 2013. The Marines conducted the HALO jump to reinforce the skills employed to safely complete the exercise.



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 only to males. Marines wanting to serve as special operators must attend Assessment and Selection (A&S). All Marines are screened to ensure that the Marines joining MARSOC meet the established prerequisites for duty within the command. Screening takes place in three stages: record screening, physical screening, and a psychological and medical evaluation.

Assessment and Selection

Once a Marine is qualified through the MARSOC Recruiter's screening process, he will be assigned to the Assessment and Selection (A&S) Program. A&S is mentally and physically challenging. The program is conducted three times a year at an undisclosed location following the three-week Assessment and Selection Preparatory and Orientation Course.

Phase 1

The three-week A&S Phase 1 course serves as the precursor to the roughly three-week Assessment and Selection Course (A&S), and the nine-month Individual Training Course (ITC), with the purpose of preparing MARSOC Critical Skills Operator candidates for the challenges of 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.

A&S Phase 1 completion does not guarantee selection.

Phase 2

A&S is a mentally and physically challenging evaluation that enables MARSOC to identify Marines that have attributes compatible with special operations missions and the MARSOC way of life. A&S is highly competitive. The program is conducted three times a year at an undisclosed location following the three-week Assessment and Selection Preparatory and Orientation Course.

Individual Training Course

The Individual Training Course is a physically and mentally challenging nine-month course designed to produce Critical Skills Operators who can operate across the spectrum of special operations in small teams under spartan conditions. ITC uses a building block approach; the training rigor will systematically increase to mimic the complexity and stresses of combat. During ITC students are under constant observation from the instructor cadre as well as their peers. ITC is broken down into four training phases:

Phase 1

Phase 1 trains and evaluates students in the basic skill sets required of all special operators. Physical fitness, swimming and hand-to-hand combat are stressed in a PT program designed around endurance, functional fitness and amphibious training. This physical training program will continue throughout the course and has been designed to prepare the student for the unique demands of special operations. Field skills including: navigation; patrolling; Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE); and Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC). Mission planning, fire support training, and extensive communications round out the first phase.

Phase 2

Phase 2 builds upon phase 1, the next phase teaches mission planning, fire support training, small boat operations and scout swimming, demolitions, photography and information collection/reporting and crew served weapons. A 9-day exercise, "Operation Raider Spirit", is run to evaluate the candidates in patrolling and combat operations. Following on from this, students are taught Special Reconnaissance skills on a 3-week course. The end of phase 2 is an exercise, "Operation Stingray Fury", which tests the ITC students in urban and rural reconnaissance.

Phase 3

Phase 3 focuses on close quarters combat (CQB) operations, phase 3 of the ITC trains the student to high degrees of proficiency in rifle and pistol marksmanship (Combat Marksmanship), CQB Tactics, Techniques and Procedures, demolitions and urban combat skill sets employed by a frontline Marine Special Operations Team (MSOT). Phase 3, which lasts 5 weeks, culminates in a series of simulated raids against urban and rural targets in an exercise named "Operation Guile Strike".

Phase 4

In the final phase, students will receive instruction on irregular warfare operations. The course culminates with "Operation Derna Bridge". Derna Bridge will require the student to use all of the skills mastered throughout the course while training, advising and operating with a Partner Nation/Irregular force. Newly graduated Marine special operators will be assigned to one of the three Marine Special Operations Battalions.

Language training

All Marine special operators are required to undergo continual language training. However, based on ability, certain Marines will be selected for follow-on language training in an Advanced Linguistics Course.

Advanced training

The training of Marine special operators does not end with ITC. Marines will continue training at their assigned battalion for another 18 months. In addition, the MSOS offers advanced-level courses in a number of subject areas: Special Reconnaissance, Close Quarters Battle, Sniper, Breaching, and weapons employment. MSOS and advanced training courses:

  • Advanced Linguist Course (ALC)
  • MARSOF Advanced Sniper Course (MASC)
  • MARSOF Close Quarters Battle Level II (MCQBL2)
  • Marine Technical Surveillance Course (MTSC)
  • MARSOF Dynamic Entry Level II Course (MDEL2)
  • Tactical Acquisition Exploitation (SR level II)
  • Hostile Forces Tagging Tracking Location (HFTTL)
  • Helicopter Rope Suspension Training (HRST)
  • Advanced EOD
  • Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC)
  • Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Operator
  • Advanced mountain warfare
  • Advanced Driving Skills
  • Survive, Evade, Resist and Escape (SERE)

Marine special operators also attend U.S. Army Airborne School and the USMC Combatant Diver Course.

See also


External links

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