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    MARSOC graduates newest special operators, grows forces



    Story by Cpl. Kyle McNally 

    Marine Forces, Special Operations Command

    MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – As U.S. and NATO forces, including up to 10,000 Marines, start an accelerated troop withdrawal from Afghanistan as early as next fall, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command knows that the withdrawal does not include them for now – in fact, MARSOC continues to grow and will see a continued presence in Afghanistan.

    With an increasing demand for special operators, MARSOC is fulfilling its charge to bring more Marines to the unconventional fight – most recently by graduating 42 Critical Skills Operators from its Individual Training Course at a ceremony at MARSOC headquarters, Dec. 2. ITC Class 2-11 was the largest graduating class of CSOs to date, according to John Daily, deputy director of the Special Operations Training Branch. The smaller attrition rate of this class can be attributed to the majority of the students having completed the Assessment and Selection Preparation and Orientation Course – a 21-day course that better prepares candidates for the grueling 19-day Assessment and Selection process, he added. ASPOC provides a baseline of fitness training and instruction in skills that will be required of the candidates during A&S. “The benefits of ASPOC continue to be felt as the course is refined,” said Daily. “ITC Class 3-11, which is currently in session, is performing exceptionally well.”

    Once selected through A&S, CSO candidates attend the rigorous seven-month ITC, which is designed to prepare Marines for duty in the special operations forces environment. At the end of the grueling evolution, Marines emerge as qualified special operators, indoctrinated thoroughly in MARSOC’s core tasks of Direct Action, Special Reconnaissance, Foreign Internal Defense and Irregular Warfare, and capable of accomplishing such missions in austere environments, typically with little support. Because SOF often operates autonomously, Marines in ITC are constantly analyzed on their sound judgment and their ability to make critical and timely decisions.

    The course is divided into four phases. Students learn communications and combat medicine in Phase I, which culminates in Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape training. Phase II covers amphibious operations, tactics, weapons and special reconnaissance, and Phase III brings the students to the urban battlefield, where they train in marksmanship, close quarters battle and urban combat. The final eight-week phase consists of irregular warfare training and the course’s culminating exercise, testing the Marines on everything they learned in the previous seven months.

    “One of the advantages of drawing from the Marine Corps is that a lot of the guys who come to us already have a lot of experience,” said an ITC instructor. “They also come from a wide background of [Military Occupational Specialties], so they can really diversify the teams.”

    Efforts to right-size MARSOC continue, and along with the 44 percent increase as approved by the Commandant of the Marine Corps, which consists of mostly combat support and combat service support capabilities, MARSOC must hit a target number of close to 850 CSOs to outfit 48 fully operational Marine Special Operations Teams.

    “I think we have recently settled on a sound methodology that will ensure we find the right Marines in terms of quantity and quality,” Said Maj. Gen. Paul E. Lefebvre, commander of MARSOC.

    “We are operationally engaged in every theater but despite operational pressures, our build plan adheres to the SOF truths that “Quality is more important than quantity” and that “special operations forces cannot be mass produced.”

    “We will fully embrace MARSOC and capitalize on its unique capabilities, while we strengthen the relationships between our operating forces and special operations forces,” said Gen. James F. Amos, 35th commandant of the Marine Corps, in his 2010 Commandant’s Planning Guidance. “More importantly, I fully understand that MARSOC serves as a tremendous force multiplier for any joint/combined force commander and is a valuable part of what our Corps provides to the Nation,” he said.

    “I believe special operations forces have never been more valuable to our nation and to our allies,” said Navy Admiral William H. McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, during recent testimony before the House Armed Services Committee. “You have my promise that we will continue to fight as long and as hard as you need us to....”

    What MARSOC brings to the fight is an adaptable, scalable, highly capable, inexpensive and task organized force whose Marine ethos brings the MAGTF mentality to SOF. This new batch of CSOs along with MARSOC’s continued growth in CS and CSS capacity is a step in the right direction to make MARSOC a force of choice for SOCOM.

    “The world today is as unpredictable as ever,” said McRaven when he assumed command of SOCOM, Aug. 18. “As such, the American people will expect us to be prepared for every contingency, to answer every call to arms, to venture where other forces cannot and to win every fight no matter how long or how tough. They will expect it, because we are the nation’s special operations force…and we will not let them down.”



    Date Taken: 12.02.2011
    Date Posted: 12.19.2011 10:31
    Story ID: 81570

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