Defense Media Network

An Interview with Maj. Gen. Carl E. Mundy III

MARSOC Year in Review

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As he prepares for change of command in August, Maj. Gen. Carl E. Mundy III reflected on his two years as commander of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) and the legacy of change he is leaving behind. Key to it is the publication of “MARSOF 2030,” which details how MARSOC needs to evolve in the next decade to face a new set of threats and adversaries. (MARSOF – Marine Special Operations Forces – refers generically to the operational force; MARSOC is the Marine Corps’ service component to U.S. Special Operations Command [USSOCOM]; Raiders are what individual members of MARSOC are called since the formal deactivation of Marine Special Operations Battalions and reactivation of the Marine Raider Battalions that took place on June 19, 2015.)

Key to MARSOC’s evolution is taking a hard, realistic view of the future and avoiding “fighting the last war.”

Maj. Gen Carl E. Mundy III

Maj. Gen. Carl E. Mundy III, commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, visits students in the MARSOC Combat Support Orientation Course at the multipurpose canine training facility aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, March 22, 2018. U.S. MARINE CORPS PHOTO BY CPL. BRYANN K. WHITLEY

“We are heavily invested in the current conflict, so our forces have an aggressive operations and deployment tempo. The challenge is having enough time and capacity – human resources – to be able to focus on getting ready for the next threat while dealing with the current,” he told Special Operations Outlook. “That’s the current impediment.

“The key success is we were able to focus on the future and come up with a vision that will help us develop more specific innovation pathways or roadmaps to help implement that vision. There is a lot of hard work that needs to go into implementing a vision, but I think we’ve taken a huge step. We have just published the core document, so we are beginning the next step, which is to develop a deliberate implementation plan. From that, we will develop more specific pathways that will put flesh on the bone for each of the four pillars.”

Mundy was referring to his four priority areas for MARSOC:

  • Provision of integrated full-spectrum special operations forces (SOF);
  • Capabilities integration between SOF and Marine Air Ground Task Forces (MAGTF);
  • Future force development; and
  • Preservation of the Force and Families.

“We are heavily invested in the current conflict, so our forces have an aggressive operations and deployment tempo. The challenge is having enough time and capacity – human resources – to be able to focus on getting ready for the next threat while dealing with the current.”

“Providing our force begins with the recruitment process and continues through our assessment, selection, and individual training pipeline. We are focused on recruiting the best individuals from across the Marine Corps,” he told the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities on April 11. “Our training is progressive. As individuals earn new special operations specialties, they are moved to teams or special skills training environments. The culminating exercise for Marine Special Operations Companies (MSOCs) and Marine Special Operations Teams (MSOTs) is Exercise Raven. MARSOC created Raven to assess and certify MSOCs and MSOTs for deployment. Held six times each year, the exercise emphasizes realistic decision-making for company and team commanders and provides a venue to practice the full planning, decision, execution, and assessment cycle.

Raider Spirit Maj. Gen. Carl E. Mundy III

A U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey takes off after Marine Special Operations School students infiltrate their objective during Field Training Exercise Raider Spirit, May 1, 2017, at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. For the first time, U.S. Air Force special tactics airmen spent three months in Marine Special Operations Command’s initial Marine Raider training pipeline, representing efforts to build joint mind-sets across special operations forces. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO BY SENIOR AIRMAN RYAN CONROY

“This training continues until deployment and covers everything from individual skill sets to high-end, advanced, complex unit collective training. The training environments we create are dynamic. Not only do they prepare our Raiders for the current operational challenge, but they also evolve based on emerging threats and our expected participation in support of standing operational plans. Another benefit of the Raven exercise is its utility as a venue for integrating conventional Marine Corps resources into what is otherwise a SOF-centric exercise.”

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