Force Recon - - Marines

Force Recon

Force Recon -Crossed Paddles Jump wings behind a hollow set of determined eyes; globe and anchor pinned to the center of the forhead; Closed circuit UBA breathing hoses and biteblock Swift Silent or deadly; these are traits and tools that get you of USMC Force Recon the premier sneak and peak artists and quick raiders too to target from the air, on or under the sea.

United States Marine Corps (USMC) Force Reconnaissance (Force Recon) can be considered to be the USMC equivalent of units such as the Navy SEALs or U.S. Army Special Forces (though their missions do differ by some margin). Although they are not under the wing of U.S. Special Operations Command, their training and deployment agenda may appear to suggest otherwise (Though some Force Recon Marines have been assigned to a special unit, 'MAR DET 1', in an attempt to start integration with USSOCOM). Marine Force Recon operators perform highly specialized, small scale, high-risk operations, such as:

Amphibious and deep ground surveillance.

Assist in specialized technical missions {Weapons of mass destruction(NBC), Radio, sensors and beacons, etc.}

Assist in ordnance delivery (i.e., designating targets for laser-guided bomb units, ground artillery and naval artillery).

Conduct 'limited scale raids,' including offshore gas and oil platform (GOPLATS) raids, Military Interdiction Operations (MIOs) and the capture of specific personnel or sensitve materials.

Hostage/Prisoner of war rescue

Marine Force Recon detachments operate within Marine Expeditionary Units (Special Operations Capable) {MEU(SOC)}. They are not to be confused with Marine Reconnaissance, as Force operators are much more experienced in deep recon and are at times assigned duties other than reconnaissance (which are not assigned to Recon Marines).

Understanding Marine Force Reconnaissance unit organization, first requires understanding of Marine unit orgnization in general... The United States Marine Corps is divided into two zones of operation: Marine Forces Pacific (MARFORPAC) and Marine Forces Atlantic (MARFORLANT) and three Marine Expeditionary Forces (MEFs): MEF I WestPac (MARFORPAC), based on the West Coast; MEF II MedFloat (MARFORLANT), based on the East Coast and MEF III (MARFORPAC), based in Japan. Each MEF consists of a Marine Division, a Marine Air Wing, and a Support Group. Forward deployed Marines make up a smaller unit, known as the Marine Expeditionary Unit, Special Operations Capable {MEU(SOC)}, made up of no more than 2,500 men. Much like the MEFs, MEU(SOC)s are composed of an infantry element, the Battalion Landing Teams (BLT) (which includes the non-Force Division Reconnaissance), an air element, the Marine Medium Helicopter Squadrons with a control detachment, and a support element, the MEU Service Support Groups (MSSG). Tying these three elements together is the Command Element (CE). Force Reconnaissance platoons are attached to and are a part of the Command Element, and their position in the MEU(SOC) is not tied to the Battalion Landing Team.

MEU(SOC)s are deployed onboard Amphibious Ready Groups, a group of several ships usually centered upon an amphibious assault helicopter carrier. As many as three such groups, each carrying its own MEU(SOC), can be deployed around the world at any given time. Because of this constant mobility, a MEU(SOC) can reach any shore in the world within six hours of an order being given.

1st Force Reconnaissance Company was formed at Camp Pendleton, CA in 1957. The Company evolved from the famed amphibious reconnaissance units from World War Two and the Korean War, from the Reconnaissance Platoon, Marine Corps Test Unit #1, the Amphibious Reconnaissance Company, FMFPAC, and the 1st Reconnaissance Company, 1st Marine Division.

Highlights of early Force Reconnaissance training included initial terminal guidance during amphibious operations and helicopter assault pathfinder training. The Company also sustained obstacle clearing and landing zone preparation essential tasks in support of early-Marine Corps helicopter borne operations, built on the development and testing foundations pioneered by Marine Corps Test Unit #1, and refined other development functions for amphibious reconnaissance, parachute insertion, and pathfinder support, both specific to the Marine Corps but for other US Service operations also.

In addition to static line and military freefall parachute insertion techniques, the Company developed and refined submarine insertion/extraction techniques, to include the initial "blow and go" techniques, refined SCUBA capabilities and procedures, and developed the initial deep reconnaissance capability within the Department of Defense.

During 1958, approximately half of the 1st Force Reconnaissance Company was reassigned and transferred to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina to form the 2nd Force Reconnaissance Company.

In 1964 1st Force Reconnaissance Company made its first incursion into Vietnam and continued in operations which carvedits battle history until 1970 when the last platoons returned from Combat duty. In late 1974 the Company was deactivated. A limited deep reconnaissance capability was retained as members of 1st Platoon were reassigned to 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division.

1st Force Reconnaissance Company was reactivated on 26 September 1986. The Company deployed a platoon with Contingency MAGTF 1-88 in the Persian Gulf in 1988, participating in Gas Oil Platform operations and other security operations in that Theater. During September 1990, the Company (-) deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of Operations DESERT SHIELD/STORM. Following the Gulf War, Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) Direct Action Platoons from 1st Force Reconnaissance Company participated in ground and amphibious reconnaissance in support of Operation RESTORE HOPE in Somalia, participated in security operations in East Timor and in ground reconnaissance and combat operations in support of Task Force 58 in Afghanistan.

1st Force Reconnaissance Company deployed to Kuwait in January 2003 and participated in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. The Company was reinforced with platoons from 2d and 4th Force Reconnaissance Companies and was in direct support of I MEF, Task Force TARAWA, and the 1st Marine Division. The Company (-) redeployed during May 2003 and Detachment, 1st Force Reconnaissance Company, attached to Task Force SCORPION, redeployed during September 2003. The Company deployed to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom-2 during February 2004 with attachments from 3d Force Reconnaissance Company, serving in Direct Support of Regimental Combat Team-7, 1st Marine Division (REIN).

1st Force Reconnaissance Company is currently at full strength with six reconnaissance platoons supporting 11th, 13th and 15th Marine Expeditionary Units, the emerging Expeditionary Warfare Groups, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade and the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. The company retains a full command control, military freefall, combatant diver, mounted and dismounted reconnaissance capabilities, as well as a Company level Direct Action capability. The command is also a force provider to emerging Marine Corps Special Operations initiatives with HQMC/USSOCOM.

The Prospective 1st Force Reconnaissance Company cadre member follows a process that takes six to seven years to achieve... often greater during the present wartime conditions. A volunteer the Marine must have prereqs from his prior commands and possess the physical quals to be eligible just to attend the full day of tailored screening, before 1st Force training cadre offers him a training slot.

If selected for training the Force Recon Marine candidate has attended Basic Recon School( BRC) on the East Coast at NAB Little Creek or NAB Coronado and Camp Pendelton on the west coast where he learns amphibious recon, amphibious raiding, Combat Rubber Reconnaissance Craft (CRRC) operations, Basic Scout swimming, Maritime Navigation, Water Survival and Small boat raiding operations over a nine and one half weeks period. During this period, The Force Recon candidate gains a basic knowledge of reconnaissance doctrine, concepts, and techniques with emphasis on Scout Swimmer operations, amphibious entry, extraction, beach reconnaissance, Combat Rubber Reconnaissance Craft (CRRC) operator skills and patrolling. The course combines lecture, demonstration, and practical application in communications, land navigation, supporting arms, rough terrain skills, patrolling, intelligence reporting, demolitions, nautical navigation, coxswain skills, scout swimmer physical training; executing beach and urban swimmer reconnaissance in support of small boat operations; dangerous marine life, scout swimmer equipment, surf observations/reports, mission planning, extensive practical application of beach and urban scout swimmer techniques on different beach and urban sites; maritime navigation skills necessary to navigate in small craft over long distances of open water using dead reckoning and piloting skills; instruction on navigational publications and equipment, nautical charts, aids to navigation, dead reckoning, nautical compass, piloting, current sailing, tides, currents and planning maritime navigation operations; (CRRC), responsibilities of the boat team, small boat transit, clandestine landing and withdrawal, and launch and recovery procedures. Training culminates with two full mission profile raid exercises conducted on targets in the local areas. Scores less than 80% on an evaluation will constitute failure and may result in termination from the course.

After successfully completeing BRC the Force Recon Candidate attends SERE school for two weeks. Basic Army Airborne at Fort Benning Georgia, for three weeks. Marine Combatant Diver Course in Panama City Florida for eight weeks. The Marine returns for his next workup phase: the platoon assignment. This begins with an 18month course work up, The first six months are a schooling akin to 1st force duties: Jump master, Military free-fall, sniper, High speeds driving, demolition or crossovers in Ranger or Special Forces

The 2nd six month phase of a platoon work upis via the Marine Corps Special Operations Training Group (SOTG). During a 180-day cycle, SOTG personnel instruct the Force Recon Marine platoon in subject matter ranging from vertical and urban assault; special shooting skills; breaching techniques; close quarters battle; urban reconnaissance and human intelligence collection techniques; small craft operations; company raids; maritime interdiction operations; and non-lethal tactics, techniques and procedures as well as direct action and small unit assaults, raids and operations.

The 3rd six month phase is devoted to precision shooting skills and mainitaining a high level of PFT. A Platoon will then deploy 6 to 9 months before returning to repeat the 18 months again with the same or different platoon based on strength requirements.

Although a Force Recon Marine is administratively qualified Force Recon after Airborne and the Combative Diver Course he is not fully qualified until after until he has achieved all the parallel schooling options that the Marine can take - one at a time - at each 1st six month phase of the 18 month platoon work up....Our approximately six to seven years.

Today , there are currently four active Marine Force Reconnaissance companies: 1st Force Reconnaissance, based at Camp Pendleton, CA; 2nd Force Reconnaissance, based at Camp Lejeune, NC; 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company, based in Mobile, AL and 4th Force Reconnaissance Company, based in Honolulu, HI. 5th Force Reconnaissance was folded into non-Force 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion as Deep Reconnaissance Company, and is based with 31st MEU(SOC) at Okinawa.

As for unit structure, Force Recon companies operates more like a battalion. Taking 1st Force as an example, there is a Commanding Officer (CO, Lt. Col.), Executive Officer (XO, Major) and a Sergeant Major. Other components include S1, S2, S3, S4 and S6 (Administrative, Intelligence, Operations, Logistics, Communications). Beyond that, the Company is divided into six operational platoons, each with a Platoon Commander (Captain) and a Platoon NCO (Sergeant, E-6 SSgt or higher). One of these platoons is a scout/sniper unit retained from the MEU BLT. Navy medical corpsmen are also active in Force Recon units, endure the exact same training as Force Recon members and are very much respected by the Force Marines.

Force Recon Marines also take part in a specifc to the Marine Recon tasking they term 'Greenside Operations' which refers to operations that do not necessarily require direct force-on-force contact, or is not an open assault or breach. In terms of Force Reconnaissance, this almost always means deep recon patrols. Force Recon Marines operated in six-man teams, and rely on stealth, evasion and training to survive, as they are usually too far ahead of the main force to expect artillery support or quick helicopter extractions.

Force Recon Marines also take part in a specifc to the Marine Recon tasking they term "Blackside Operations". Blackside, or Direct Action (DA) operations include Tactical Recovery of Aircraft Personnel (TRAP), Gas/Oil Platform (GOPLAT) raids, Vessel/Board/Search/Seizures (VBSS) and other missions involving close quarter battle. On blackside ops, a Platoon acts as one and brings along special operators as per mission specifications (i.e., explosive ordnance disposal personnel, electronic warfare specialists, etc.). Force Marines can be inserted into the combat zone in a variety of ways: on land, using the IFAV( Dune Buggies and light armored 4x4's) , by sea, and by air {High Altitude High Opening (HAHO), High Altitude Low Opening (HALO), helicopter fast rope, etc.}

Just recently, In-Extremis Hostage Rescue (IHR) was also assigned to Force Recon units to a slight degree in order to supplement the roles of USSOCOM CAG and Navy SEAL DEVGRU with a more forward deployed unit via the Marine Corps 'MAR DET 1.' A Force Recon Company Marine in the scope of his experience may volunteer further for this recent integration into this MAR DET 1, the USSOCOM secret counter terrorist unit, conducting all the duties the Force Recon companies do yet for even higher classified level of operations that can utilize the extremely well versed Marine Force Recon Operator in actions conflict which now stretches all US forces around the Globe.

Swift, silent, deadly... and highly capable Force recon is a force always to be reconed with!

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Tags: force, recon, marines, a02219