United States Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance detachments, or FORECON, units are special-purposes units roughly analogous to the U.S. Army Special Forces and are widely recognized as the "special operations forces" of the United States Marine Corps. Marine Force Recon personnel, or "operators", operate in deep reconnaissance, direct action, and the control of supporting arms; to convey military intelligence beyond the means of a commander's area of influence in the battlefield. They are capable of operating independently in combined methods of amphibious and ground operations by utilizing methods of conventional and unconventional warfare.
The FORECON detachments are one of the two Marine Reconnaissance units assigned to the Marine Air-Ground Task Force. The Marine Recon Battalions support the Ground Combat Element, while FORECON supports the Command Element.
Reconnaissance forces are a valuable asset to the Marine Air-Ground Task Force when the MEF Commander is faced with uncertainty in the battlefield. Reconnaissance provides timely intelligence to Command for battlespace shaping, allowing the MAGTF to act, and react, to changes in the battlefield. As other Special Operations Forces are tasked by and report to USSOCOM, Marine Reconnaissance Units are reserved for supporting the Marine Infantry that are directly involved in battlespace shaping.
However, Force Reconnaissance troops are employed far beyond the battlefield, the 'Area of Interest', while the Division's Recon Marines are tasked within the boundaries of the Commander's 'Area of Influence'. Both 'elite' Marine Reconnaissance units thus differ by the depth of penetration.
Many of the types of reconnaissance missions that are conducted by Marine Recon units are characterized by deep penetrations. This greatly increases the mission time, risk, and support coordination needs. Marine Recon Battalions are in charge of Close and Distant Reconnaissance, whereas Deep Reconnaissance is normally done by Force Reconnaissance. They however both utilize these two separate and distinct missions: 1) reconnaissance and 2) direct action, both in terms of special entry. During the outset of the Vietnam War, they were known as "Key Hole" and "Sting Ray" operations. The versatility of FORECON is demonstrated when missions quickly turn, planned or not, from a deep reconnaissance operation to a direct action operation.
Tasks characterized as 'deep reconnaissance' by FORECON are known as "green side" operations. These operations are missions pertaining to deep preassault/postassault reconnaissance. Force Recon Marines collect any intelligence of military importance, observe, identify and report adversaries to MAGTF. They may also be tasked in battle damage assessment (BDA) missions. Green operations may consist of hydrography, beach, routes, and urban area recon. They may initiate terminal guidance in landing and drop zones for heliborne, airborne, or waterborne operations, to include forward operating sites for aircraft. They may collect tactical imagery, as well in placing or recovering remote sensors and beacons. Silence and stealth are vital to reduce chances of mission compromise from contact with the enemy. Secrecy enables uninterrupted ground reconnaissance, amphibious reconnaissance and forward observing.
Black Side missions are known as direct action, or DA missions. Black Side operations are the flip side to Green Side missions. Examples are seizures of gas/oil platform (GOPLAT) and the visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) of ships in Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO). Orchestrating Close Air Support is a vital skill exercised in DA missions, where Recon units will observe from static positions and spider holes. They also provide Personal Security Detail (PSD) for critically important personnel, and perform In-Extremis Hostage Rescue.
The origins of Force Recon can be considered to be many of Marine Corps' own variants of 'special operations forces', historically known as the Marine Raiders, Paramarines and the Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion during the outset of World War II.
The United States Marine Corps, who been known for theorizing and practicing the United States methods of amphibious tactics, had introduced a new concept in amphibious warfare. They sought a 'specialized' team capable of:
In 1933, the Marine Raiders were the result. Around this time, the practice of combatant diving became the cornerstone of amphibious reconnaissance. During World War II and the Korean War, they developed methods of locking in and out of submarine torpedo bays and using bouyance floats to ascend the surface or use of SCUBA equipment that remains in effect today.
But soon after, the Marine Corps was still in need of a quick reaction force that could be inserted efficiently and without detection by the enemy. Since the Marine Corps has its own aviation, use of paratroopers became an important role later years. In the summer of 1940, a paratrooper unit was envisioned by HQMC, the Paramarines. It did not come unnoticed as the United States Navy adopted the same philosophy and formed it into the training plan of their famed Underwater Demolition Teams.
The Marine Raiders and Paramarines did not survive after World War II as Fleet Marine Force "organizations", a belief held by many senior Marines that the Marine Infantry was capable of carrying out the same missions, as every Marine is trained as a combative fighting force. Finally, by the authority of the Marine Commandant BGen. Vandegrift, it was decided that having a unit within the Corps as an "'Elite' of the elite" was not acceptable to the Marine Corps' demeanor. This led to its disbandment in 1944, before World War II ended.
Two atomic bombs were dropped in Japan ending World War II, it was then at this moment that lessons were learned about nuclear weapons which encouraged Colonel Robert E. Cushman, Jr. to question then-Marine Commandant Alexander A. Vandegrift about a feasible massive amphibious landing over small areas subject to potential threat of tactical nuclear weapons. The major concern was that other countries were in development of producing nuclear weapons, it was decided that the United States were in need of a modern doctrine emphasizing methods in maneuvering troops in a nuclear fallout.
Several years later, on July 1, 1954, Commandant Lemuel C. Shepherd activated Marine Corp Test Unit #1, or MCTU#1 under his staff’s recommendation that the Marine Corps is in need of a ‘specialized’ unit performing missions outside the Fleet Marine Force to develop special tactics, techniques and organizational concepts to the nuclear age, under operational control of the Commandant of the Marine Corps.
General Shepherd appointed Colonel Edward N. Rydalch as the Test Unit's Commanding Officer (CO) and Lieutenant Colonel Regan Fuller as the Executive Officer (XO) over command of 104 Marine officers, 1,412 enlisted, 7 naval doctors and chaplain; and 51 Hospital Corpsmen. Table of Organization: one Headquarters and Service Company; one infantry battalion consisted of four companies; one 75mm anti-tank platoon; one 4.2-inch mortar platoon; one 75mm pack howitzer artillery battery. Furthermore, a Marine Air Wing element attached along with administrative and logistic support at the request from nearby MCAS El Toro.
During the Korean War, helicopters were first used by the Marines in combat by the Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion. Commandant Shepherd and his staff was interested in other innovative methods of reconnaissance that could be performed. They recommended planning for a greater mobility and dispersion as well as operating further distances inland from sea. A unit capable of introducing combined supporting arms with heliborne capabilities and make it integral in methods of reconnaissance. Mockups of Sikorsky helicopters made from improvised lumber materials combined with repetitive exercises, by early 1955 the unit became well-organized tasked in heliborne insertions.
In March 1955, MCTU#1 participated in shot 'Bee' in Operation Teapot, a series of tactical nuclear weapons tests with active nuclear warheads conducted at the Atomic Commission Research test. During exercise "Desert Rock IV", they maneuvered near ground area acting an amphibious battalion landing force in a nuclear environment, simulated in trenches and a mock built-up facility to resemble an urbanized city.
April 1955, Captain Bruce F. Meyers reported to the CO of the Test Unit and was assigned to the unit's Battalion as the Assistant Operations and Training Officer working under Maj. Bob Bohn. Meyers spent a year cross-trained in the parachutist and pathfinder courses provide by the Navy and Army. Colonel Rydalch started making critical changes in the organization to establish elements within the unit that "validated reconnaissance theories and techniques of all-helicopter assault, not only they apply to the battalion landing team level but to higher levels as well. Before Meyers was onboard, he had the concept of using jets from aircraft carriers as a plausible mean of insertion of reconnaissance teams, which he consorted with Brigadier General Chesty Puller on his ideas. Chesty Puller then directed his concept to the Commandant who in turn assigned Meyers to MCTU#1 in response to Colonel Rydalch plans.
This led to the establishment of the Plans and Development (P&D) Section and Reconnaissance Platoon, in which Col. Rydalch assigned the newly arrived Capt Joseph Z. Taylor as Commanding Officer in September 1955. Meyers began to assemble and establish training of the Marines of this new platoon which become the nucleus of 1st Force Reconnaissance Company by bringing fresh submarine and rubber raft experiences to the test unit. Taylor recently returned from reconnaissance exercise (RECONEX) 551 on Iwo Jima aboard the USS Perch (ASPP-313) with 3rd Recon Battalion. Prior to duty abroad in 1950, he served as a reconnaissance company commander under, who is currently the test unit's XO, Regan Fuller's 2nd Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion (who was a Major at that time).
Not until April 1956, the quote requirements has sent a handful of Marines from the unit on Temporary Additional Duty (TAD) to the United States Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia. To prevent anyone from not completing the course and lose Marines, the test unit conducted its own "pre-jump school" with the helping of Sergeant Robert Zweiner, a parachute rigger from an Air Delivery Platoon on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. Robert Zweiner became the founder and head of the Parachute Loft (or Paraloft) of 1st Force Reconnaissance Company.
Every Marine has passed the school, earning their silver wings, however, Meyers have being the only one in MCTU#1 with free-fall experience, the Marines were then sent to the U.S. Naval Parachute Unit under the instructions of very highly qualified navy jumpmaster Chief Warrant Officer Lewis T "Lew" Vinsen at the Naval Auxiliary Air Station in El Centro, California in July 1, 1956. Due to the free exchange and cross-training cooperation in these efforts, on one jump, Joseph Kittinger, USAF jumped times with the Marines of MCTU#1..
Jump logs during 1956-67 has shown various types of parachutes and different carrier-based aircrafts that they have experimented in finding alternative methods in reconnaissance entry, such as the Douglas F3D Skyknights and A-3 Skywarriors, and the Grumman TF-1 Trader, launching the first HALO/HAHO jumps in Marine Corps history.
In 1957, it was decided that a battalion-size force reconnaissance will be assembled and reorganized from the Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion with a new T/O and T/E that will directly be under Fleet Marine Force yet detachable to the Marine Air-Ground Task Forces and Marine Divisions. On June 18, 1957, The Marines of Test Unit #1 reported to 1st Marine Division, then to Headquarters Battalion to assume command of 1st Amphibious Reconnaissance Company. The next day, on June 19, 1957 orders were received to the disbanded test unit at 1st AmphiRecon Company to designated their new command 1st Force Reconnaissance Company, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific.
1st Force Reconnaissance deactivated in 1974.
All existing Recon Marines were either assigned to reinforce 2nd Force Reconnaissance Company or to the Deep Recon Platoon with 1st and 3rd Recon Battalions.
3rd Force Reconnaissance Company was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve.
1st Force Reconnaissance Company was reactivated in 1986 and was later deployed in the Gulf War.
There are currently seven MEU(SOC)s in the Corps. In Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) I WestPac, there are three MEUs: the 11th, 13th and 15th. They are responsible for the Middle East and Persian Gulf region. In MEF II MedFloat, there are also three MEUs: the 22nd, 24th and 26th. They focus on countries around the Mediterranean Sea. The last MEF, MEF III, has only one MEU(SOC), based in Okinawa, Japan: the 31st MEU.
As of 2004, there are currently four active Marine Force Reconnaissance companies: 1st Force Reconnaissance, based at Camp Pendleton, California; 2nd Force Reconnaissance, based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company, based in Mobile, Alabama and 4th Force Reconnaissance Company, based in Honolulu, Hawaii. 5th Force Reconnaissance was folded into 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion as Bravo Company, which also deploys as the Deep Reconnaissance Company in the 31st MEU(SOC) at Okinawa.
The structure of a Force Reconnaissance Company is more similar to that of an infantry battalion than a standard company. The command element includes the Commanding Officer or CO (normally a Lieutenant Colonel), Executive Officer or XO (normally a Major), a Sergeant Major and the S1 (Administrative), S2 (Intelligence), S3 (Operations), S4 (Logistics) and S6 (Communications) officers. The bulk of the Company is divided into six platoons, under a Platoon Commander (Captain) and a Platoon NCO (Sergeant, Staff Sergeant or higher). One of the six platoons is a scout/sniper unit retained from the MEU's Battalion Landing Team. Force Recon units also include U.S. Navy Corpsmen as integrated combat medical personnel, and, like corpsmen in all Marine Corps units, these corpsmen receive the exact same training as the members of the units they support.
Entrance in to FORECON is an extensive and demanding process in which Marines will attend the selection process known as the Reconnaissance Indoctrination and Screening. Marines from any other Reconnaissance unit still must undergo screening as there are no other exceptions into Force Reconnaissance. As there are Marine Officers in the command element of the Force Recon Companies, it is unlikely for an officer to be inserted with a Force Recon team as they are reserved as the supporting commander; officers within the Maritime Special Purpose Force, accept deployment of commissioned officers on limited scale raids during DA missions.
In order for Marines to be accepted for the 'Indoc', they must require:
The 48-hour Reconnaissance Indoctrination and Screening is held on the last Thursday of each month at either Camp Pendleton, CA or Camp Lejuene, NC, as each unit uses different selection processes. In general, the screening begins with a standard physical fitness test, a three mile run, stomach crunches and chin-ups. Marine candidates must obtain a First Class score of 285 or higher to continue the Indoc.
Because Marines are amphibious by nature, the candidates will proceed to the pool next where they will perform water aerobics and underwater push ups while wearing boots and uniform. Candidates are required to swim to the bottom of a pool with a depth of twenty-five feet to retrieve a ten pound concrete block, used to simulate a magazine-fed weapon. Then candidates must carry the block to the surface and swim with it to the a designated spot. Next, candidates tread water for thirty minutes with a rubber rifle, called a "rubber duck," held above their head.
The candidates then run the Obstacle Course, or "O" Course, a few times on the next day. The candidates are evaluated on their effort and method of attempt, instead of how fast they finish the course. After the "O" Course, candidates perform a timed eight mile "Ruck Run," which requires candidates to carry a rucksack containing a fifty pound sand bag and a "rubber duck." Candidates must maintain a pace of four to five miles per hour. Failure to maintain this pace results in the candidate being returned to their original unit. Any candidate may voluntarily dropout at any time during the screening process and retake the test later. Multiple screening attempts are common before succeeding.
Candidates who pass the physical tests are given a psychological screening test and an interview. Officers are interviewed by the Company Commander. Enlisted Marines are interviewed by the Company Sergeant Major and other Senior NCOs.
Each Marine will undergo a non-stop, continuous loop of a two-year cycle in five phases:
Once the Marine is accepted, he is inducted into the first step of the accession "pipeline" where he will undergo extensive training in 'specialized" schools which can last for two years until becoming a full-fledged Force Reconnaissance Operators.
This first step, Marines are placed in Reconnaissance Indoctrination Platoons, or RIP. This is the next step for honing and progressing their skills necessary to function within a Force Reconnaissance Company. Also acts as another selection and screening board to 'weed out' the lesser motivated Marines (aside from the Reconnaissance Indoctrination and Screening).
The candidates are given further training in patrolling, amphibious reconnaissance, communications and land orientation which will warm-up the Marines before attending the rigorous and demanding Basic Reconnaissance Course. While in the RIP, candidates are issued a 12 foot rope; at any time instructors will demand the candidates to tie knots (they've learned during RIP) of his choosing. To the common practice, the candidates are often known as "ropers".
During this phase, the candidates attend the Basic Reconnaissance Course (BRC) at the School of Infantry, East and West coast. Prior to 2007, BRC was previously taught at the Amphibious Reconnaissance School, NAB Coronado, CA or Little Creek, VA, of the Expeditionary Warfare Training Group, Pacific or Atlantic.
The course is 49 days long with the average training day of 13.5 hours. This course introduces the Force Reconnaissance environment. Marines will gain a working knowledge of the reconnaissance doctrine, concepts and techniques that emphasize on-ground and amphibious reconnaissance missions. To attain a spot in the school, the Marine must have at least one year of deployment and have a minimum of two years remaining on their contract, or commit to reenlist. The candidates will receive basic knowledge of coxswain skills in planning, organizing, and execution in operating the Combat Rubber Reconnaissance Craft (CRRC) and necessary skills in operating the on-board motor, launch and recovery procedures, over-the-horizon (OTH), amphibious raids, and operations in the surf zone. Also, maritime navigation is included in the training program, as well as the launch and recovery procedures of the CRRC.
Other training includes beach reconnaissance, underwater and breach demolitions, communications, rough terrain skills, and scout swimming. Also, they will learn the fundamentals of weapons of all types (air, sea, and land) that are employed in supporting arms in interfacing with calling and adjusting naval gunfire, artillery, close air support (CAS). They will practice day and night learning to operate behind enemy lines and learning to conduct immediate action drills when encountered. Photography with a field camera and underwater camera for surveillance are also taught along with field sketching and range estimations. Above all, they learn insertion/extraction techniques in Helicopter Rope Suspension Training, such as fast roping, rappelling, and SPIE rigging.
Even though every Marine has learned to read a map and to patrol, BRC training is more in depth to ensure that the candidates will operate efficiently in a recon team. Upon graduation, Marines and Corpsmen will then receive the MOS 0321 or NEC 8427; Marines who are already qualified as parachutist or as USMC combatant divers, are assigned the MOS "B" 8654.
To remain undetected, Marines use the fundamentals of underwater infiltration to achieve their objectives. The USMC Combatant Diver Course was created for that reason. The course is taught at the Navy Diving and Salvage Training Center in Panama City, FL. During this eight-week course, trainees are introduced to open and closed-circuit diving (using the LAR-V rebreather), diving physics and medical aid. Most of the training in combatant diving is done at night.
The course provides combat underwater tactical training and the skills needed to successfully conduct an underwater infiltration and exfiltration. The candidates negotiate long distances in open water, infiltrating by surface and sub-surface, learning to deal with the hazards of a "surf zone" tangle and simulated equipment malfunction. Open-circuit involves descending and ascending procedures, searching for lost, submerged equipment, and surface swims with a compass. Closed-circuit emphasizes the sub-surface navigation of infiltration and exfiltration. The combatant divers course combines lecture, demonstration, and practical application in gas mixtures of oxygen and nitrogen, and oxygen charging procedures by using the USMC Oxygen Transfer Pump System, or USMC OTPS. Upon completion of the course, the candidates are honored with the Special "B" MOS 8643.
Next in the pipeline is Jump School. After graduation from the BRC and USMC Combatant Diver Course, candidates are introduced to parachuting at the United States Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia. This course teaches candidates insertion techniques by parachute. The course is separated into three training weeks: Ground, Tower and Jump Week.
Ground Week - Marines are introduced to the MC-5 Ram parachute. This Ram Air parachute is combined for low-level static line (LLSF) and military free-fall (MFF). Ground Week is focused on properly executing a Parachute Landing Fall (PLF). The shock of landing is absorbed and distributed across the balls of the feet, calf, thigh, buttocks, and back muscle. Also taught are procedures for exiting an aircraft via static line and landing safely in a Drop Zone (DZ).
Tower Week - Two towers are used for training: the Swing-Landing Tower, or SLT, and the "Tower". The SLT is a 12-foot high platform used to simulate the downward inertia and oscillation of an actual jump. Instructors control the SLT to determine how hard or soft the Marine will land. The 250-feet high "Tower" is designed for PLFs, to practice landing during the descent.
Jump Week - To earn his "silver wings", a Marine must perform five parachute jumps: an individual jump, and another with tactical assembly, a mass exiting jump with equipment both day and night, and an individual mass exiting jump. To earn the USN/USMC parachutist badge, or "gold wings", he must perform five additional jumps, including a day/night slick jump without equipment, and the fifth jump is a water jump. A Marine that is Parachutist Qualified is assigned the MOS 8652.
This far in the "pipeline", the candidates are now officially Force Recon Marines, yet they still must undergo training in the Individual Training Phase (IPT) The Marines attend Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape or SERE School at either NAS North Island, CA, located north of NAB Coronado, CA or NAS Brunswick, ME. In this 12-day course, the training curriculum is divided into 3 phases. The first phase consists of classroom lessons, lectures and demonstrations. The second phase is six field laboratory days. The last phase includes debriefs and graduation.
While Level A is taught to recruits and candidates in Officer Candidate School, this base provides Level C Code of Conduct that is necessary for Force Recon. As the "eyes" and "ears" of the MEF commander, Force Recon carry knowledge of sensitive battlefield information.
Additional survival training in Level C Code of Conduct may include the five-day Peacetime Detention and Hostage Survival (PDAHS) course. This training provides the skills to survive captivity by a hostile government or terrorist cell during peacetime.
The Force Recon Marines that are qualified and have already obtained the Primary MOS of 0321 and the secondary MOS 8654 will take advantage of this phase to attend other specialized schools. Meanwhile the non-qualifying candidates continue their training before moving onto Phase 2 of the MTP. They attend the Ranger, Pathfinders, Long Range Surveillance Course in Fort Benning, GA, Emergency Medical Technician Course at the Naval Base Kitsap, Low-Level Static Line, Military Free-fall, and Jumpmaster Course, Mountain Leaders Course, Helicopter Rope Suspension Training (HRST) Master, Scout/Sniper Course, and the High Risk Personnel (HRP) Course.
After the Marines have undergone all the training required to be a qualified FORECON Marine, they regroup together within the Company and train together, purposely formed for team-building which is essential for a recon team to successfully complete their objectives. During this six-month phase, experienced Staff NCOs and Officers from the S3 section in the Company are charged with conducting training packages. They are called the T-Cell, and has proven useful for this portion of the training as it allows the experienced FORECON operators within the T-Cell to elaborate any training on everything Marines will be hardened against.
The Long Range Communications Package is a three-week course covered by the Communication Section. As Force Recon operates in deep reconnaissance, to report observations, call for fire or extraction, they need to understand to use the equipment that they have at bay. It includes training in Long Range High Frequency, multi-band, digital and satellite communications (SATCOM).
The first two week of the Weapons and Tactics Package involves 5000-8000 rounds fired from the M4 Carbine equipped with a Special Operations Peculiar Modification kit and the MEU(SOC) .45 ACP. A live fire and maneuvering exercise is conducted on the third week in immediate action (IA) drills in close range of rotary wing support as well as transportation.
As the Marines become familiar with their weapons, they conduct field exercise, force-on-force, live fire drills using a militarized version of the Simunitions kit called the Special Effects Small Arms Marking Systems, or SESAMS. They are marking cartridge ammunition that contains a small plastic sabot round encasing a colored detergent, or paint; usually red or blue.
The one-week Threat Weapons Familiarization package concludes knowledge of weapons in identification and operation of threat weapons used by adversaries of the United States. Threat Weapons consists of assault, automatic and mobilized weapons.
Force Fires Package will give the Marines a working knowledge of fixed and rotary wing close air support and Naval Gun Surface Fire (NGSF) by utilizing the AN/PEQ-1A Laser Acquisition Marker, or (SOFLAM) to "paint" their targets.
In order to rapidly deploy FORECON on a mission-oriented tasks requires fast mobilization; the Mobile Reconnaissance package covers all aspects in operating and maintaining the M998 HMMWV and the Interim Fast Attack Vehicle. The current IFAV is a replacement of the two earlier FAVs, the M-151A2 and the Chenowth FAV that were employed in the 1980s and 1990s.
The Advanced Airborne package is extremely important for Recon Marines when it comes to inserting behind enemy lines. In this three-week period, Marines will make the changing approach from conventional LLSL insertions into the hallmark of HAHO techniques. Usually it consists of night consecutive night jumps with night combat equipment, but also HAHO training are exhibited in the Paraloft of the S3 Section using a complex virtual reality-based computer system. While wearing a VR headset device, the Marines hang suspended from the Paraloft ceiling that resembles the MC-5 Ram Air parachute. Many simulations are factored in this Virtual Reality Parachute Simulation; it allows the Marine to jump at high altitudes and visually check his main canopy for proper deployment, alleviate malfunctions, to cutaway and deploy a reserve parachute, then employ guidance and control to an unmarked drop zone (DZ).
Many other trainings are listed to mold the Marines into a fully functional recon unit, many training packages include long range patrolling in desert areas to dissemble desert regions such as Kuwait (which is taught either at 29 Palms or Yuma AZ.), mountainous terrain and many other regions and environments that they may face in peacetime or during a conflict. It is vital for each and every Marine to apply all their skills in order for their team to accomplish the missions that are at hand.
Combat Trauma Package is an examination of first aid and medical treatment that can prepares Marines in many realistic scenarios where Marines can become casualties. Since Marines will be either in the swamps, in the water, helocasting, or jumping from aircraft. This package is built for Marines to give them confidence and knowledge to apply medical attention to themselves or others while operating in hazard environments whether they are engaged in combat or not.
Combatant Dive Package is designed for concentrating on the unit's capabilities in the water. They will learn more about the LAR V rebreather as they have been taught at the USMC Combatant Dive Course. The T-Cell will introduce the Diver Propulsion Device (DPD) and the "buddy line", a plastic pipe made from composite plastics that every every marine is attached to. This ensures that the team remain close together as the water may be impossible for visuals contact in subsurface swimming.
While Marines were introduced to amphibious reconnaissance from the BRC, the T-Cell outlines the Amphibious Training package before they are attached to a MEU(SOC), this package refines their ability to conduct amphibious operations, and conventional and selected maritime special operations capabilities incorporating all their skills for Marines to work as a team.
This training phase concentrates more in direct action while the unit training phase was involving more in the "greenside" operations. The next phase in training is conducted by the Special Operations Training Group (SOTG). The mission of the SOTG is to qualify and prepare the Marines attached to the MEU to be 'Special Operations Capable' (required by MEF) for mission-oriented operations through series of courses before they are bound for a six-month deployment. These course involves close quarters combat and applied science in demolition, Gas/Oil Platform (GOPLAT) training, Cordon and Search, Visit, Board, Search, & Seizure, shipboard assaults training and humanitarian operations.
Urban warfare came to be the most dangerous for any Soldier or Marine to be engaged in combat. Since the first time the Marine Corps has fought in a built-up area in Huế City, Vietnam, the U.S military concluded that a new doctrine is to be formed as they face a new era of urban warfare, bringing the battlefront from a sparsely populated area to the city. To hone these skills, Marines are introduced to the "Shooting House", a maze-like structure that is designed to facilitate any combat scenario they may face while conducting a room-to-room search and sweep.
After they are taught the skills to operating in DA missions, they participate in a Training in Urban Environment Exercice (TRUEX). The municipal, state, and federal officials such as the local and state police, fire departments, the Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigations have coordinated to make this training as realistic as possible for Marines. Force Recon Marines will get together with the MEU and conduct the Special Operations Capable Exercise, or SOCEX for preparation for any world conflict to peacekeeping/humanitarian operations.
Force Reconnaissance will be under a sustainment of training on a daily basis during their six-month deployment. 1st Force Recon Company on the West Coast embarks to the Persian Gulf, 2nd Force Recon of the East Coast deploys to the Mediterranean Sea. Upon returning from deployment, the cycle continues with the first phase in the cycle. The Marines can either choose a career path, leave the company and return to their previous or new command or stay with Force Recon to begin the cycle starting with the Individual Training Phase all over again.
The Full Spectrum Battle Equipment Amphibious Assault Vest, Quick-Release (FSBE AAV QR) is a light-weight assault vest system that incorporates both protection and cargo retention. Protection includes soft armor coupled with hard ballistic inserts. Cargo retention capabilities include various pouches and pockets attached via standard PALS webbing. The entire FSBE kit includes the vest body, a throat protector, a groin protector and an assortment of load bearing pouches. A fully loaded vest with armor plates can prove quite heavy, and is typically used only in high-risk direct action (DA) missions. This vest was unique in its quick release system, allowing the Marine to ditch the entire vest very quickly in case of emergency. This quick release feature, also used with newer modular plate carriers such as the Paraclete Releasable Assault Vest, was developed in response to a December 9, 1999 CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter crash over the Pacific. Several members of 5th Platoon, 1st Force Reconnaissance Company drowned because they could not eject their heavy armor in time to swim away. Only one Marine was able to successfully ditch his equipment and survive. The FSBE vests are manufactured by Point Blank Armor (US), but Recon operators purchase additional modular load bearing pouches from a number of manufacturers.
The CIRAS suite of equipment manufactured by Eagle Industries is currently the new FSBE II system, and has replaced the FSBE AAVs.
Prior to this, the FSBE series replaced the older Close Quarters Battle Equipment Assault Vest (CQBE AV) that had been used by Force Recon since 1996. This kit is available to civilians, with prices for the FSBE vest body starting at $500 USD. This price does not include any ancillary pouches or soft armor or hard ballistic armor inserts.PASGT "K-pot." This helmet is now in use with most acitve duty US Army units, and is available in three design varieties. This helmet is also available to civilian consumers for around $450 USD per helmet. Two versions of the MICH, the 2000 and 2002 models are preferred, the difference being that the 2002 has earlobes that extend about half the distance than the 2000-series MICH earlobes.
Force Recon uses a modified and improved M1911A1 .45 pistol, originally introduced in 1924, and largely replaced in 1985 by the 9 mm M9 due to logistic concerns (the M1911/M1911A1 used .45 ammunition, whereas the rest of NATO used 9 mm ammunition) and capacity issues (the M9 features a 15-round, double-stack magazine, while the older M1911A1 only holds 7 rounds in a standard single-stack magazine). The pistol is constructed at the Precision Weapons Section at Quantico, Virginia, and are made from original service M1911 frames dating back to the 1940s. MEU(SOC) pistols use a variety of parts from different high-end manufacturers (they are all hand-built and maintained; no two MEU(SOC) .45s are exactly the same) and are some of the most reliable pistols in the world. When a pistol malfunctions due to wear and is irreparable without special equipment or parts, the pistol is sent back to Quantico for repairs. Repairs include changing slides and various parts, but the frames are never changed, as the U.S. government no longer produces them (many of the frames have gone through hundreds of thousands of rounds).
The MEU(SOC) pistol will be replaced by a commercially-produced improved MEU(SOC) pistol. The Interim Close Quarters Battle (ICQB) pistol produced by Kimber for MCSOCOM Detachment One is not a replacement for the MEU(SOC) pistol.
Springfield Armory is currently supplying the new MEU(SOC) pistols.
This article incorporates text in the public domain from the United States Marine Corps and various other sites pertaining to Marine Corps Orders and Publications.
MARADMIN 417/07, Reconnaissance Marine Lateral Move Policy and Procedures | http://www.marines.mil/news/messages/Pages/2007/Messagesa31.aspx
FM 7-92 | http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/fm/7-92_2001/index.html
MCRP 2-1C | http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/usmc/mcrp2-1c.pdf
MCO 3500.20B | http://www.safetycenter.navy.mil/instructions/Parachute/MCO_3500.20B.pdf
MCWP 2-1 | http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/usmc/mcwp2-1.pdf
MCWP 2-15.1 | http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/usmc/mcwp2-15-1.pdf
MCO 1543.12 | http://www.marines.mil/news/publications/Documents/MCO%201543.12%20W%20CH%201.pdf
MCO 3500.42A | http://www.marines.mil/news/publications/Documents/MCO%203500.42A%20W%20ERRATUM.pdf
MCO 1510.125 | http://www.marines.mil/news/publications/Documents/MCO%201510.125.pdf
MCO 3502.2A | http://www.marines.mil/news/publications/Documents/MCO%203502.2A%20W%20ERRATUM.pdf
MCO 3502.3A | http://www.marines.mil/news/publications/Documents/MCO%203502.3A%20W%20ERRATUM.pdf
OPERATIONAL REQUIREMENTS DOCUMENT (ORD) FOR AN UNDERWATER RECONNAISSANCE CAPABILITY (URC) | http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/usmc/ord96061xa.htm