United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command units receive advanced training in special reconnaissance, close-quarters battle, sniping, breaching (especially as applied to counter-terrorist ops), and special weapons usage. Here an instructor demonstrates low-profile snap shooting with his M4 carbine.
For the first ten years of its existence, SOCOM, which had been formed in 1986, did not have a contingent from the Marine Corps. That is not to say that the Corps did not have its own special operations-capable units. Recon and Force Recon units were considered an elite within the Marine Corps and were capable of an array of missions. ANGLICO (Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company) was another Marine Corps unit with specialized training and a mission generally performed by special operations personnel. Special operations forces were available within the Marine Corps — they had just not been assigned to SOCOM.
The Marine Corps announced the creation of MARSOC, which stands for United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, on November 1, 2005 and the unit was officially activated on February 24, 2006 at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Initially, Marines from the 1st and 2nd Force Reconnaissance Companies had provided most of the personnel for MARSOC. However, as the unit expanded, a Marine Special Operations Individual Training Course was instituted at Camp Lejeune on 06 October 2008. Today, there are approximately 2,500 Marines and sailors assigned to MARSOC, the latter primarily as corpsmen and in support functions.
As with other Marine infantry units, MARSOC personnel are formed into a regiment—the Marine Special Operations Regiment (MSOR). Three Marine Special Operations Battalions—the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd MSOB—plus a headquarters company comprise the MSOR. Also incorporated into MARSOC was what was formerly known as the Foreign Military Training Unit, now known as the Marine Special Operations Advisory Group. The 1st MSOB is based at Camp Pendleton, California and the 2nd MSOB at Camp Lejuene, North Carolina. Within each battalion are four Marine Special Operations Companies (MSOC) organized into four Marine Special Operations Teams (MSOT) of 14 men (normally 12 Marine operators and 2 Navy Corpsmen). Also stationed at Camp Lejeune is a Marine Special Operations Support Group (SOSG) of approximately 400 personnel, which handle administration, intelligence and support for the MSOR. Marine K-9 handlers trained to operate with MARSOC and operators who can perform the ANGLICO role are part of the SOSG as well.