A native of Fargo, North Dakota, Col. Brett Alva Bourne entered the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, in 1987 and was commissioned as a Marine Corps 2nd Lieutenant in 1991.
His early career comprised a number of Infantry assignments, including rifle and 81mm mortar platoon commander, 3rd Battalion/2nd Marines; platoon commander/22nd MEU (SOC) Detachment OIC, 2nd Force Reconnaissance Company; assistant operations officer, 24th MEU(SOC); commanding officer Echo Company, BLT 2/6; chief of field instruction, The Basic School; commanding officer C Company/E Company, The Basic School; commanding officer 1st Battalion/9th Marines; training officer, 2nd MARDIV; fleet marine officer/director of plans, NAVCENT.
He also has extensive special operations experience, including assignments as exchange officer to the Swedish Naval Special Forces; combat advisor to Commando Kandak, Afghan National Army; director-contingency operations/special activities, Special Operations Command-Europe; executive officer, MSOR, MARSOC; G37-Training, MARSOC, and, before taking command of the Marine Special Operations School, chief of staff, Special Operations Command-Africa.
As MARSOC’s 10th anniversary approached, Col. Bourne responded to questions from The Year in Special Operations Consulting Editor John Gresham about the school’s history, status and future.
The Year in Special Operations: Would you please give us a description of the Marine Special Operations School?
Col. Brett Bourne: Broadly, the MSOS is broken down into an Assessment and Selection (A&S) Branch, two Special Operations Training Companies and a SERE [Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape] school. The predominance of personnel assigned to those sections are engaged in creating future critical skills operators (CSOs), special operations officers (SOOs) and special operations capability specialists (SOCS). Lastly, MSOS provides advanced SOF skills to members of the Marine Raider Regiment, the Marine Raider Support Group, and USSOCOM personnel.
The production of capable, competent and effective special operators and special operations capable specialists for service within the Marine Raider Regiment and Marine Raider Support Group has become of paramount importance as MARSOC has grown into a regionalized, highly capable force with responsibility for forward-deployed command and control of O-5 and O-6 led task forces.
In the context of current SOCOM/MARSOC force structure, where does MSOS fit?
MSOS is one of the three colonel-led major subordinate elements of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command [MARSOC]. We are responsible to the MARSOC commander for the creation, training and development of individual core competencies within his force.
As regards the force, we provide advanced training and specific capabilities to the members of the Marine Raider Regiment (MRR) and Marine Raider Support Group (MRSG) in support of the execution of their missions.
The MSOS also maintains linkage to the Naval Special Warfare Training Center and the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School to ensure joint interoperability with our SOF peers. In addition to our SOCOM links, the MSOS ensures learning management, faculty development and all training standards are in accordance with the direction and guidance of U.S. Marine Corps Training and Education Command.
What are the roles and responsibilities assigned to your unit – and do you have any specific metrics you work toward for MARSOC?
The mission of the Marine Special Operations School is to assess and select personnel for assignment to MARSOC and to train and educate designated personnel in individual, basic and advanced special operations in order to meet MARSOC’s requirement to provide capable personnel to conduct special operations.
As commanding officer, I am ultimately responsible for all aspects of the MSOS and its mission. My metric is simple: How many CSOs, SOOs and SOCs do I produce a year and are they of sufficient quality? The production of capable, competent and effective special operators and special operations capable specialists for service within the Marine Raider Regiment and Marine Raider Support Group has become of paramount importance as MARSOC has grown into a regionalized, highly capable force with responsibility for forward-deployed command and control of O-5 and O-6 led task forces.