Force Recon: Mission and History

Marine reconnaissance man prepares to board an Osprey.
Sgt. Franklin Simmons, a reconnaissance man with the reconnaissance detachment, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), loads into an MV-22B Osprey from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 163 (Reinforced), 11th MEU, for a rehearsal of a tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel mission, Sept. 24, 2014. (Lance Cpl. Evan R. White/U.S. Marine Corps)

The mission of Force Recon is to conduct amphibious reconnaissance, deep ground reconnaissance, surveillance, battle-space shaping and limited scale raids in support of the Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), other Marine air-ground task forces or a joint force.

U.S. Marine reconnaissance units are tasked with providing the commander of a larger force of Marines with information about his operational area. Their missions usually focus on specific information requirements, which, due to their changing or unique nature, cannot be obtained by means other than putting a man on the ground to observe and report. Recon Marines are, by nature, capable of independent action in support of the larger unit's mission.


The history of Recon Marines begins in World War II, when two units were formed: the Raider Battalion, which was created in January 1942 with the intention of providing the Marines a light-force raid unit much like the British Royal Marine Commandos, and the "Observation Group" of the 1st Marine Division, comprised of two officers and 20 enlisted men. The latter was expanded to 98 Marines in 1943, renamed the Amphibious Recon Company and served on the island of Abemama in the Pacific, where their success in aiding the invasion led to another expansion to 20 officers, 270 enlisted and 13 Navy doctors. The Observation Group participated in landings for the rest of the war, including Tinian Island, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

The need for recon became prominent once again in the Korean War, where the Amphibious Recon Company was called upon to make landings in Northern Korea and report back their findings. It also carried out raids against tunnels and rail lines, with some of these missions taking place as much as 40 miles inside enemy territory. Recon members operated closely with U.S. Navy underwater demolition teams during some of their missions. In March 1951, the force was expanded and named the 1st Amphibious Recon Platoon, and it continued to serve after the end of the war. In 1957, the 1st Company of "Force" Recon Marines was formed, and the 2nd Company Force Recon was formed in June 1958. In 2006, as part of the reorganization under MARSOC, both companies were deactivated, and force reconnaissance currently is carried out by the 1st and 2nd Reconnaissance Battalions, under the 1st and 2nd Marine Divisions, respectively.

The 1st Reconnaissance Battalion was reactivated in June 2000, but the battalion originally was activated in March 1937. It was primarily a scout/sniper unit. In April 1944, a two-company amphibious reconnaissance battalion was formed with the mission of conducting beach reconnaissance and hydrographic survey. Today, the battalion performs a wide variety of tactical and special operations in support of the division.

The Recon Creed

Realizing it is my choice and my choice alone

to be a Reconnaissance Marine,

I accept all challenges involved with this profession.

Forever shall I strive to maintain the tremendous reputation

of those who went before me.

Exceeding beyond the limitations

set down by others shall be my goal.

Sacrificing personal comforts and dedicating myself

to the completion of the reconnaissance mission shall be my life.

Physical fitness, mental attitude, and high ethics --

The title of Recon Marine is my honor.

Conquering all obstacles, both large and small,

I shall never quit.

To quit, to surrender, to give up is to fail.

To be a Recon Marine is to surpass failure;

To overcome, to adapt and to do whatever it takes

to complete the mission.

On the battlefield, as in all areas of life,

I shall stand tall above the competition.

Through professional pride, integrity, and teamwork,

I shall be the example

for all Marines to emulate.

Never shall I forget the principles

I accepted to become a Recon Marine.

Honor, Perseverance, Spirit and Heart.

A Recon Marine can speak without saying a word

and achieve what others can only imagine.

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