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MARSOC Marine Raiders | Complete Guide

Marine Special Operations Command, better known as MARSOC, officially came into existence on February 24, 2006. The institution of MARSOC and the Marine Raiders was the result of many years of effort.

Special Operations Command (SOCOM) was instituted in 1986. At the time, the Marine’s elite unit was known as Force Reconnaissance, they were the predecessors of MARSOC. Back then, Marine leadership did not want to join SOCOM, since they felt it would jeopardize Force Recon and its special capabilities under the direction of the Marine Corps. There was a sense that joining SOCOM would result in the downfall of the Marines as a whole.

After the 9/11 attacks, the sentiment towards SOCOM began to change. The importance and relevance of having a dedicated special operations unit attached to SOCOM became apparent for some. In an effort to join SOCOM, the Marines stood up a test unit, MCSOCOM Detachment 1, often simply referred to as Det 1.

Det 1 was stood up in June 2003. The unit was mostly Marines from the 1st and 2nd Force Reconnaissance Companies, along with other especially chosen Marines to fill support roles. Det 1 was deployed to Iraq in 2003 with Navy SEALs from Naval Special Warfare Group One. Over the next three years, Det 1 worked alongside other special operations units. SOCOM reviewed Det 1’s performance and was satisfied with the results. This segwayed into the official formation of MARSOC in 2006 and the standing down of Det 1.

In August of 2014, MARSOC took ownership of the Marine Raider title. The name originates from WWII. The Marine Raiders of WWII are said to have been the first U.S. special operations unit. During the war, these raiders specialized in small-unit, light infantry, amphibious warfare. They were able to penetrate deep behind enemy lines on the Pacific islands. In WWII, the Raiders’ special title, and categorization of being an elite unit, brought some resentment from the rest of the Marine force. Due to the Marines” shifting tactics of implementing large, amphibious assaults, the Raiders’ mission was deemed no longer relevant, and they were disbanded in January of 1944.

Today, MARSOC’s Raiders have become a formidable and highly specialized special operations force. They specialize in Direct Action, Special Reconnaissance, Counter-Terrorism, and Foreign Internal Defense. They train and fight from air, land, and sea. Since MARSOC’s inception, the unit has conducted over 300 deployments to 13 countries.

A U.S. Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion is staged during a Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command night raid exercise at Tactical Air Combat Training System Airfield, near Yuma, April 21, 2016. This exercise was conducted during Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) course 2-16. WTI is a seven week training event hosted by Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) cadre. MAWTS-1 provides standardized advanced tactical training and certification of unit instructor qualifications to support Marine Aviation Training and Readiness and assists in developing and employing aviation weapons and tactics. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Zachary M. Ford, MAWTS-1 COMCAM/ Released)

Joining MARSOC

To join MARSOC, an individual must first enter the conventional Marines. MARSOC has an enlisted route and an officer route. Enlisted Raider members are known as Critical Skills Operators (CSOs) and the officers are Special Operations Officers (SOOs).

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 To enter the MARSOC pipeline as a CSO, an individual must meet the following requirements: 

  •   Must be able to obtain a Secret security clearance
  •   Achieve a minimum GT score of at least 105
  •   Earn a minimum score of 235 on the PFT
  •   Have no more than two Non-Judicial Punishment events on current enlistment
  •   Pass MARSOC’s swim assessment
  •   Be eligible for reenlistment
  •   Meet MARSOC’s medical screening requirements
  •   Have no…

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