The Marine Special Operations Regiment (MSOR) consists of a Headquarters Company and three Marine Special Operations Battalions (1st, 2d and 3d). The Regiment provides custom military combat-skills training and advisor support for certain foreign forces in order to enhance their tactical capabilities and to prepare the environment as directed by USSOCOM. They also possess the capability to form the nucleus of a Joint Special Operations Task Force.
Marines and Sailors of the MSOR train, advise, and assist friendly host nation forces - including naval and maritime military and paramilitary forces - to enable them to support their governments' internal security and stability, to counter subversion, and to reduce the risk of violence from internal and external threats. MSOR deployments are coordinated by MARSOC, through USSOCOM, in accordance with engagement priorities for Overseas Contingency Operations. MSOR was activated in 2007 and oversees three battalions: the first, second, and third Marine Special Operations Battalions.
The 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion was activated on October 26, 2006, and is headquartered at Camp Pendleton, California. 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion (1st MSOB) is organized, trained and equipped to deploy for worldwide missions as directed by MARSOC. It consists of four Marine Special Operations Companies (MSOCs) of fifteen men each and is task-organized with personnel uniquely skilled in reconnaissance, communications, special equipment support, intelligence, and fire-support.
The 2d Marine Special Operations Battalion activated May 15, 2006, and is headquartered at Camp Lejeune, N.C. The 2d MSOB is organized, trained, and equipped to deploy for worldwide missions as directed by MARSOC. It consists of five Marine Special Operations Companies (MSOCs) and is task-organized with personnel uniquely skilled in special equipment support, intelligence and fire-support. Each MSOC is commanded by a Marine Major and capable of deploying task-organized expeditionary Special Operations Forces for conduct of special reconnaissance and direct action missions in support of the geographic combatant commanders.
The 3d Marine Special Operations Battalion (3d MSOB) trains, equips and deploys Marine Special Operations Forces for worldwide special operations missions as directed by the Marine Special Operations Regiment. The unit is base at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
The Marine Special Operations Regiment has roots in Marine Corps Special Operations Command Detachment One, a pilot program created to measure the viability of Marine special operations forces. Det One went active in 2003 and was composed of a 30-man reconnaissance element, a 29-man intelligence element, a 7-man fire element, and a headquarters element. Marines that took part in the Det One pilot program were hand-picked from over 500 personal records with the reconnaissance element composed entirely of Force Recon Marines.
Training and selection for members of the battalion begins with entering Assessment and Selection (A&S). Here applicants are screened through their records, physical tests, and psychological evaluation. The core of A&S is a three-week course held seven times a year that challenges applicants both physically and mentally. Everyone passing this phase moves on to the Individual Training Course (ITC). This lasts for seven months and involves four phases that slowly begin to mimic actual combat conditions. Following completion of ITC, Marines undergo language training and advanced training with their assigned battalion in special reconnaissance, close quarters battle, sniping, breaching, and weapons employment.