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MARSOC: “Today Will Be Different”

2014-15 year in review

 

The motto of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) – “Today will be different” – could not have been more accurate during the command’s ninth year as the Marine Corps component of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). From a change of name for the members to Marine Raiders to the worst single day loss of life in its history to trying to balance the withdrawal from Afghanistan with new demands in Iraq, Africa, Europe, and elsewhere around the globe – all while in the midst of an ever-tightening Department of Defense (DOD) budget that has placed some needed new equipment programs in jeopardy – it has been a tumultuous period for the Raiders and their new commander.

MARSOC’s forces are now regionally focused in order to provide persistently forward deployed, reinforced Marine Special Operations Companies [MSOC (Rein)] to U.S. Central Command [CENTCOM], U.S. Pacific Command [PACOM], and U.S. Africa Command [AFRICOM],” Osterman said.

Maj. Gen. Joseph L. Osterman took over as MARSOC’s fifth commanding general on Aug. 6, 2014, and immediately faced the problems of an increasing level of command responsibilities within SOCOM and increasing demands for the use of his smaller-than-originally envisioned force of 2,742 Marines and sailors – what his predecessor, Maj. Gen. Mark A. Clark, USMC (Ret.), called “right-sizing” in light of budget restrictions.

At the same time, MARSOC was expanding its relationship with the big Corps, SOCOM, and the joint force Geographic Combatant Commands (GCCs).

“Until 2015, MARSOC’s primary focus was support of operations in Afghanistan. MARSOC has now operationally re-oriented in order to better support the GCCs in the post-OEF environment. MARSOC’s forces are now regionally focused in order to provide persistently forward deployed, reinforced Marine Special Operations Companies [MSOC (Rein)] to U.S. Central Command [CENTCOM], U.S. Pacific Command [PACOM], and U.S. Africa Command [AFRICOM],” Osterman said.

Marine-Assessment-Selection-Course

Marines build their strength in the water during a water physical training session of Phase I of the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command’s Assessment and Selection course aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Jan. 30, 2015. Marines must successfully complete several qualifications with varying criteria during the course. U.S. Marine Corps Forces photo

“The MARSOC training continuum produces task-organized MSOCs capable of full spectrum special operations with particular emphasis on skills related to partner-nation capacity building. The three battalions of the MSOR [Marine Special Operations Regiment] and MSOSG [Marine Special Operations Support Group] have regionally oriented to effectively produce this capability in support of these commands. In addition, each forward-deployed MSOC (Rein) is also attuned to the unique regional requirements of their deployment area, including language capability and any specific regional tactical capabilities.”

MARSOC’s role within SOCOM includes providing operational forces trained in:

  • Direct Action (DA);
  • Special Reconnaissance (SR);
  • Security Force Assistance (SFA);
  • Counterinsurgency (COIN);
  • Foreign Internal Defense (FID); and
  • Counterterrorism (CT).

The command also is tasked to provide support to civil affairs operations, military information support operations, foreign humanitarian assistance, unconventional warfare, and countering of weapons of mass destruction operations, as well as training, equipping, planning for, and providing forces to execute special operations forces (SOF) command and control.

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J.R. Wilson has been a full-time freelance writer, focusing primarily on aerospace, defense and high...