Joining MARSOC: FAQ

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Marine shoots M4 carbine rifle.
A Marine with 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, fires an M4 carbine rifle at a range in Gulfport, Mississippi, Feb. 10, 2015. Critical skills operators with 3rd Marine Special Operations Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, trained with 2nd CEB Marines during RAVEN 15-03, a 10-day realistic military training exercise to enhance 3rd MSOB’s readiness for worldwide support to global security. (GySgt. Josh Higgins/U.S. Marine Corps)

What does MARSOC do?

How is MARSOC different from recon?

What is the deployment tempo like?

What happens if I'm not selected for ITC?

Do I need to be an excellent swimmer?

Do I have to reenlist to go to A&S?

How much time will my Marine spend away from home?

Will I know where my spouse is going?

What will my Marine do on his deployments?

Where can I go for more family-specific information?

Can I choose my duty station within MARSOC?

What is the current SRB, and if I reenlisted for a bonus in my current MOS or the OPFOR, will I have to pay it back?

Can I choose to go back to my MOS after the five years are up?

What special pay will I receive?

Do I have to do a B-billet while at MARSOC?

Can reservists apply?

What Does MARSOC Do?

MARSOC's core activities are:

Direct Action

We conduct short strikes and small-scale offensive actions to seize, destroy, capture, recover or inflict damage in hostile or denied areas.

Special Reconnaissance

We acquire information about the capabilities, intentions and activities of an enemy.

Preparation of the Environment

We collect intelligence and prepare for future operations at the direction of USSOCOM.

Security Force Assistance

We support the security forces of allied foreign governments to achieve operational objectives the U.S. shares.

Counterterrorism

We prevent, deter and respond to terrorism.

Foreign Internal Defense

We provide training and other assistance to foreign governments and their militaries to enable them to provide for their national security.

Counterinsurgency

In concert with allied governments, we conduct military, paramilitary, political, economic, psychological and civic action operations to defeat insurgency.

How Is MARSOC Different from Recon?

MARSOC conducts missions by direction of the SOCOM commander. These missions normally are conducted in irregular and unconventional settings. MARSOC Marines receive additional training with Special Operations Equipment and Tactics in order to fulfill these missions. USMC Recon conducts missions as part of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force in support of conventional operations.

What Is the Deployment Tempo like?

MARSOC units have a flexible deployment cycle ranging from 90 days to eight months.

What Happens if I'm Not Selected for ITC?

A&S is voluntary, so if you are not selected, you will return to your command. A&S staff will inform you of your eligibility to reattend if so desired.

Do I Need to Be an Excellent Swimmer?

Candidates should meet the current Marine Corps intermediate swim qualification for initial screening and will receive further training at the Assessment and Selection Preparation and Orientation Course.

Swim assessment as follows:

  • Conduct abandon ship drill from a six-meter platform (in accordance with CWS- 4).
  • Swim 300 meters continuously in utility blouse and trousers without CBE and boots, using the modified breaststroke or side stroke.
  • Tread water in a utility blouse and trousers unassisted for 10 minutes, then transition to the survival float by using the blouse or trouser for floating for five minutes.
  • Must demonstrate confidence in the water and the ability to remain afloat.

Do I Have to Reenlist to Go to A&S?

A candidate must have a minimum of 90 days on contract to attend A&S. Reenlistment is not a requirement, as the MARSOC monitor will work to gain a 60-month obligated time-in-service upon selection.

How Much Time Will My Marine Spend Away from Home?

Operational tempo can vary widely, depending on the mission your Marine's team is performing. A MARSOC Marine trains -- sometimes away from home -- to prepare for deployment and to ensure mission success. There is no "typical deployment," but most pre-deployment training is 10-12 months followed by a six- to nine-month deployment. After a deployment, time with family is a command priority for MARSOC Marines.

Throughout your Marine's career at MARSOC, he will have the opportunity to break up his operational tempo with schools and non-deployable billets.

Will I Know Where My Spouse Is Going?

MARSOC deploys special operators throughout the world as needed. While there are many times in which you will be given the information you need, there will be times when the success of the mission depends upon secrecy, even from family members.

What Will My Marine Do on His Deployments?

MARSOC carefully screens, selects and trains special operators to perform specialized missions throughout the world.

Your Marine will operate in a small, highly skilled and immaculately trained team of Marines. MARSOC teams are bound by trust and cohesion and work effortlessly together, giving them an advantage over many military units.

Where Can I Go for More Family-Specific Information?

Can I Choose My Duty Station with MARSOC?

The MARSOC monitor will assign you to one of the operating battalions upon completion of ITC. Exceptional Family Member Program members may stay on their current station (Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton/Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune).

What Is the Current SRB, and if I Reenlisted for a Bonus in my Current MOS or the OPFOR, Will I Have to Pay It Back?

If you reenlisted for the OPFOR bonus, you are not eligible to attend assessment and selection for MARSOC. You must meet the requirements of your contract.

Can I Choose to Go Back to My MOS after the Five Years Are Up?

A critical skills operator would have to request a lateral move back out of the MOS to return to the general purpose force upon completion of a 60-month tour.

What Special Pay Will I Receive?

Critical skills operators receive at a minimum SDA level 5, which is $375 on top of base pay. Special skill sets gained at MARSOC will add corresponding special duty allowances.

Do I Have to Do a B-Billet While at MARSOC?

Critical skills operators currently do not fill SDA billets outside the command.

Can Reservists Apply?

Only E4 and E5 can apply. For more information, contact your prior service recruiter.

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