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recon 5 blog eodExplosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technicians (2336) are not technically special operations personnel, however, they perform very unique and difficult job and undergo extensive screening and training to the point that their level of technical expertise and readiness is similar to that of members of elite special operations units.
The job of EOD is to disable, render safe, and dismantle all manner of dangerous devices from military ordnance, to improvised explosive devises, to weapons of mass destruction. Each Marine Logistics Group (MLG) has an organic EOD Company as part of its Engineer Service Battalion (ESB). Each Marine Wing Support Squadron also has an EOD company that supports its Marine Air Wing. The EOD Company has multiple EOD platoons, each composted of 25 Marines including 2 officers and 23 enlisted Marines. EOD platoons are often split into smaller detachments to support various units of their corresponding MEFs during deployments. In addition to EOD companies, every Marine base and air station has an organic EOD section as part of its organization.
EOD is one of the hardest jobs in the Marine Corps to get into due to its extremely extensive and rigorous screening process. Male or female Marines who wish to become EOD techs must be a US Citizen and cannot have dual citizenship. They must have a minimum GT score of 110 and be eligible for a Secret Security clearance. Candidates can apply in the grades of Corporal and Sergeant in any MOS. Sergeants cannot have been selected for Staff Sergeant. Candidates must have normal color vision and pass a special medical screening process for handling explosives. They must also have a first class PFT to be conducted during the screening process and no claustrophobic tendencies. The screening process includes an agility test to be completed while wearing a full bomb suit.
Following acceptance to EOD, candidates will attend the Naval School, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (NAVSCOLEOD), located at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. All DoD personnel attend the same EOD school run by the Navy and complete the same training, with the exception of Navy EOD trainees who must complete additional training for underwater EOD and clearance diving. The EOD School lasts one year and includes such topics as the science of explosives, demolitions, EOD tools and methods, deactivation of ground, aviation, and underwater ordnance as well as chemical, biological, and nuclear ordnance. EOD School is considered to be one of the most difficult schools in the Department of Defense and it has a 50% dropout rate.
Following graduation from EOD School, a Marine receives the 2336 primary MOS designation and is assigned to an EOD unit. Once in the fleet, EOD techs can receive additional training such as airborne or dive training to allow them to operate with Special Operations Forces, including MARSOC, which has its own EOD section. Because of the nature of their work, EOD techs must recertify on a regular basis to continue to do their job, and an EOD tech whom leaves their MOS for more than two years and returns to EOD must redo much of their training.
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blog 4 marsocksReferring to MARSOC, or the Marine Corps Special Operations Command, is somewhat complicated, and calling someone a MARSOC Marine can mean a number of different things. First, MARSOC is a unit within the US Special Operations Command, USSOCOM, and though made up of Marines and commanded by a Marine Major General, it is not under direct operational control of the Marine Corps.
The mission of MARSOC is to conduct direct action, special reconnaissance, counter-terrorism operations, and information operations. In addition to these missions, MARSOC’s most important mission and the main reason it was created is Foreign Internal Defense, or FID. FID is essentially training the armed forces of friendly foreign nations to combat insurgencies within their own borders. By combatting internal insurgencies, particularly extremist groups, in other countries, those groups can be prevented from spreading beyond their borders and possibly becoming a threat to the US or other friendly nations.
MARSOC consists of approximately 2,500 Marines and is divided into four major components. The first and most visible, is the Marine Special Operations “Raider” Regiment, which is the operations component of MARSOC and includes three Marine Raider Battalions. There is also the Marine Special Operations Support Group that provides various support functions to MARSOC, the Marine Special Operations Intelligence Battalion, and the Marine Special Operations School.
There are essentially three types of personnel assigned to MARSOC. Special Operations Combat Service Specialists (SOCS-Ss) are combat service support Marines in such jobs as admin, supply, logistics, maintenance, and various other jobs that provide service support to MARSOC in their MOS. They are essentially just like any other POG Marine in any other unit, except they receive special training and enhanced combat training to allow them to operate alongside Special Operation personnel. In order to qualify for a SOCS-Ss billet, a Marine must be eligible for an SCI security clearance. They can be in any rank from LCpl an up, and are often recruited directly from MOS schools.
Special Operations Capabilities Specialists (SOCS) provide direct combat support to MARSOC in the areas of Intelligence, Communications, EOD, Dog Handlers, and Fire-Control. They must also be eligible for SCI clearance. Once screened and accepted into MARSOC, SOCSs go through a 6-week Special Operations Training Course to teach them to operate alongside Special Operations Forces, SERE school, and additional training in their MOS as it pertains to Special Operations. Once they complete all training, these marines will receive the SOCS designation along with the additional MOS of 8071. They may then be sent to such courses as jump school, combatant diver school, and military freefall school to give them the skills required to work with Special Operations Forces.
Finally, there are Critical Skills Operators (0372), which are the Special Operations personnel who directly conduct the missions of MARSOC. When people think of MARSOC, it is usually the CSOs that they are thinking of. There are only 850 authorized billets for CSOs in the Marine Corps. To become one, a Marine must apply while in the grades of corporal through staff sergeant, be a US citizen, have a GT score of at least 105, have a minimum of 2 years in service and not more than 17 years, have no conduct issues, they must currently possess a Secret level security clearance and be eligible for SCI clearance, and they must pass a rigorous administrative, physical, and mental screening process. Following screening, they will enter a 6-week Assessment and Selection (A&S) phase designed to weed out unsuitable candidates. If candidates pass this phase, they will move on to a 9-month long Individual Training Course that covers all facets of MARSOC operations. Once the ITC is completed, Marines who pass will be receive the primary MOS designation of 0372 and will be assigned to a Marine Special Operations Team within the Raider Regiment where they will continue team training for an additional 18 months. Because Critical Skills Operator is a primary MOS, 0372s have their own career path and compete for promotions among other CSOs and have the ability to remain with MARSOC for their entire careers.
In addition to these MARSOC permanently assigned personnel, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Forces (SPMAGTFs) are often formed from various units within the Fleet Marine Force to assist MARSOC with its various missions, and they work under temporary MARSOC control.
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blog 3 rickyForce Recon Marines perform such duties as deep reconnaissance gathering intelligence far behind enemy lines, direct action, terminal guidance of air strikes deep in enemy territory, setting up landing zones and drop zones for follow-on amphibious, air mobile, or airborne forces, and remote sensor operations. They often train with and work alongside members of the special operations community from other branches and friendly armed forces. They also perform other unconventional warfare duties such as training friendly armed forces and assisting friendly insurgent and resistance groups with fighting mutual enemies.
Prior to 2006, Force Reconnaissance Companies existed as independent companies working directly under the command of Marine Expeditionary Force Commanders. However, in 2006, all Force Reconnaissance Companies were deactivated and their personnel were transferred to the Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC). In 2008, the Commandant directed 1st and 2nd Recon Battalions to convert their Delta Companies into Force Reconnaissance Companies. 3rd Recon followed suit shortly thereafter, giving each of the Recon Battalions a Force Reconnaissance Company that now operates under command of the Recon Battalion and their respective Marine Division.
Currently Force Recon Companies have six platoons, a headquarters and service platoon, two Direct Action Platoons, two Deep Reconnaissance Platoons, and a Scout Sniper Platoon. Marines who wish to join Force Recon must first become Reconnaissance Men (0321) via the training pipeline discussed in the previous Ricky Recon post. In addition to being Recon Marines, Force Recon candidates must be US citizens, eligible for Top Secret clearance. Once assigned to a Recon Battalion, they can then try out for the Force Recon Company. Force Recon Marines go through a training pipeline that includes: Combatant Diver School, SERE School, Basic Airborne School, Multi-Mission Parachute Course, High Risk Personnel Course, and the Joint Special Operations Course. Following completion of their training pipeline, Force Recon Marines can undergo various advanced training at both Marine schools, other service branch schools, and special operation schools of friendly nations’ armed forces.
Force Recon Companies generally operate on a two-year cycle that includes five phases including: individual training, unit training, MEU(SOC) pre-deployment, MEU(SOC) deployment, and MEU(SOC) post-deployment phases. During the individual training phase, Marine can attend such schools as Army Ranger School, Military Free Fall School, the Pathfinder Course, the Marine Assault/Breacher Course, and various other Marine and joint service schools.
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blog post 2 recon

Reconnaissance or Recon Marines are assigned to one of four Recon Battalions, one of which is assigned to each Marine Division. Three of these battalions are Active Duty, and the 4th Recon Bn, a Reserve battalion, is part of 4th MARDIV, IV MEF, Marine Forces Reserve.
The duties of Recon Battalions include providing reconnaissance and intelligence gathering for use by operational commanders to plan and execute combined arms operations. They are skilled in amphibious and ground reconnaissance, placing remote sensors, identifying foreign weapons and equipment, assessing enemy troop strength and movements, advanced land and sea navigation, and directing supporting fires to include air support, artillery, mortars, and naval gunfire. To employ these skills, they use a number of special insertion and extraction techniques including static-line and free-fall parachuting, surface swimming and combatant diver operations, small craft operations, helicopter rope suspensions, and helocast (fast roping) operations. Though reconnaissance and intelligence gathering is their main duty, they have a limited ability to perform direct actions such as raids, ambushes, and combat patrols.
Males who wish to become Recon Marines can do so in one of two ways, either they can enlist on a Recon Option contract, or they can apply for Recon training once they’re already Marines. Qualifications for Recon training include a GT score of 105 or higher, 2nd class PFT/CFT scores, WS-B(+) water survival qualification (must be WS-I to graduate BRC), vision correctable to 20/20, and medically qualified for both jump school and combatant diver school. Recon Option enlistees will be sent to the Infantry Training Battalion (ITB) at their respective School of Infantry upon completion of Recruit Training. At ITB, regular infantry trainees are usually offered the opportunity to try out for Recon Training, although it is voluntary. Marines from any non-infantry MOS may request Lateral Transfer into Recon, however, they must complete the Basic Infantryman Course (the first part of ITB training) before they can move on to Recon training.
Upon completion of ITB, Marines will be transferred to the Reconnaissance Training Company, which is part of the Advanced Infantry Training Battalion at School of Infantry-West at Camp Pendleton. All Recon candidates train at Camp Pendleton, regardless of which SOI they attended. Candidates must first pass the Basic Reconnaissance Primer Course (BRPC). The BRPC is a 5-week course includes ground and water PT, PFTs/CFTs, hikes, basic Recon skills, obstacle courses, mountaineering skills, advanced water survival training, and mental aptitude and teamwork assessments. The BRPC is essentially a course designed to weed-out those who are unsuitable for Recon training.
After BRPC, candidates complete the Basic Reconnaissance Course, or BRC. BRC is a 12-week course that is divided into three phases. Phase I is the Individual and Special Reconnaissance Skills phase and includes such training as advanced land navigation, combat conditioning, knots, rope management, introductory demolitions and calling for fire training. Phase II is the Amphibious Operations Phase, and includes such training as nautical navigation, small boat operations, scout swimmer skills, amphibious observation and reporting, and amphibious insertion and extraction. Phase II also includes a Communications Phase that provides advanced communication training in various radio and satellite communications. Phase III is the Patrolling Operations phase, which includes training in Reconnaissance Patrolling, including clandestine movement, enemy contact drills, using observation and photographic devices, and correctly observing and reporting enemy activity. Phase III culminates with an evaluation exercise at Camp Pendleton during which students’ employment of all skills learned throughout BRC is evaluated.
Upon graduation from BRC, Marines will receive a primary MOS designation of 0321 and will be assigned to a Reconnaissance Battalion. From there they will be sent to more advanced training such as Jump School, Combatant Diver School, SERE School, and Military Freefall School as deemed necessary by their commands.
The Recon Battalions are set up much like infantry battalions, with an headquarters company, 3 standard recon companies (A,B, and C Companies), and Delta Companies which perform duties formerly fulfilled by Force Reconnaissance Companies. D Co. has Deep Reconnaissance Platoons that perform deep reconnaissance and direct action. The Delta Companies of each battalion are often still referred to as Force Recon Companies.
A standard Recon company has 3 Recon platoons. A Recon platoon is composed of 23 Marines including a platoon commander, platoon sergeant, radio operator, special equipment NCO, a corpsman, and three 6-man reconnaissance teams. A recon team consists of a team leader, assistant team leader, radio operator, assistant radio operator, point man, and slack man.
Navy Corpsmen assigned to Recon units must have completed BRC and will normally have completed the Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Corpsman (SARC) training pipeline. (More will be covered about SARC Corpsmen in a following post.)
Because the Reconnaissance Man (0321) MOS is a primary MOS, holders of this MOS have a separate career path from other infantry and non-infantry MOSes, and compete for promotions among other 0321s, unlike the Scout Sniper (0317) MOS, which is considered a secondary MOS.
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BLOG SNIPER POSTIt has come to our attention that there is much confusion over the different elite operations elements of the United States Marine Corps. Many seem to think there is little difference between Scout Snipers, Recon, Force Recon, and MARSOC. They are, in fact, very different jobs, each with its own MOS, career path, and mission. Many, young, hard-charging, wannabes and poolees aspire to one day join one of these organizations. Of course, few will actually become a part of one of these groups, but everyone should at least have an understanding of what they are. Therefore, over the next few days, I will be making a series of posts about each of these organizations, how one goes about joining them, what kind of training is required to join them, and what their mission is. We will start with Scout Snipers.
SCOUT SNIPERS: Scout Snipers (0317) are Marines who have graduated from one of the Marine Corps Scout Sniper Schools. Each Marine Division, as well as Marine Corps Base, Quantico, VA has a Sniper School. The Division Sniper Schools are located at Camp Pendleton (1st MARDIV), Camp Lejeune (2nd MARDIV), and MCB Hawaii (3rd MARDIV). Members of infantry and reconnaissance battalions are sent to Sniper Schools and make up the Scout Sniper Platoons within those battalions. The Scout Sniper Platoon (SSP) is a small platoon made up of about 20-30 Marines that makes up part of the Headquarters Company of their respective battalion. Each SSP has 8-10 sniper teams consisting of 2 Marines, as well as pertinent Corpsmen and support personnel. SSPs serve as the eyes and ears of their battalions. In addition to providing precision, long-range rifle support for the battalion, they perform covert observation of the enemy to provide the battalion with intelligence on enemy movement, operations, and strength. This is where the “Scout” portion of their name comes from, and is far more important than the “Sniper” part of their job.
When one of the Division Sniper Schools receives training quotas from HQMC, these quotas are distributed to the various infantry/Recon battalions within the division. Each battalion will select candidates to fill its Sniper School quotas from among its personnel. To qualify for Sniper School, Marines must be at least Lance Corporals from any of the infantry MOSes (the only exception to this being Ground Intelligence Officers (0203), who may apply for Sniper School), they must possess a GT score of at least 100, have first class PFT and CFT scores, be currently qualified as rifle Experts, have at least 12 months left on their current contract, vision correctable to 20/20 (colorblindness is officially discouraged but not prohibited), have no history of mental illness, and no NJPs within the last 6 months. Candidates who meet these qualifications will be screened by their battalions. Generally, the SSP commander will choose who to send to Sniper School. Candidates usually go through a tryout or indoc. phase lasting several days during which unsuitable candidates will be eliminated.
Once selected for Sniper School, students will go through a 12 ½ training curriculum at the school called the Scout Sniper Course. This course includes 9 weeks dedicated to increasingly difficult rifle marksmanship, including stalking techniques, that is divided into two phases, and 3 ½ weeks of advanced field skills and mission employment. At each step in the training, students must pass practical skills tests in order to advance. If they fail any test, they will be eliminated from the course.
Once students graduate from Sniper School they will receive the secondary MOS designation of 0317 and will be returned to their battalion to serve in the SSP.
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Here is an excellent video filmed in mid 2014 at MCRD San Diego that does an excellent job at capturing your first two hours of boot camp.
You will see the bus arrival, the yellow footprints, the contraband room (red boxes), your phone call home, and your first haircut.

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