The USMC Special Operations Capable (SOC) Concept: An Alternative Approach
SUBJECT AREA - National Military Strategy
Title: The USMC Special Operations Capable (SOC) Concept:
An Alternative Approach
Author: Major W.J. Morrissey, United States Army Reserve
Thesis: The USMC prides itself on an anywhere, anytime "can
do" attitude . . . but in reality there is a clear-cut difference
in the capabilities, training and performance of the USMC and
in the Special Operations community it seeks to emulate.
Background: The United States Marine Corps traditionally has
been at the forefront of our nations finest warriors. The
Corps has always measured its performance with that of other
"elite" units. Consequently, the Corps has had to struggle
with internal elements that have tried to formalize that
elitism. By historically tracing the evolution of the Corps
"elite" units, we can glean some of the effects of the
incorporation of the MEU (SOC) training and the effects it
will have on Marines. In addition, the perception of
competition between the MEU (SOC) units and the Special
Operations community has caused unnecessary friction.
Recommendations are explored to suggest the direction the
USMC must follow to cope with the expected changes in the
Threat into the 21st Century.
Recommendation: The Marine Corps should look to standardize
all related special operations training. In addition, the
Corps should revise its Title X charter by incorporating its
amphibious capability as a unique mission; a special
operations mission. Therefore, the Corps should become the
proponent service for all special operations missions
involving Maneuver from the Sea.
THE USMC SPECIAL OPERATIONS CAPABLE (SOC) CONCEPT
AN ALTERNATIVE APPROACH
Thesis: The USMC prides itself on an anywhere, anytime "can
do" attitude. . .but in reality there is a clear-cut difference
in the capabilities, training and performance of the USMC and
in the Special Operations community it seeks to emulate.
I. Fictional scenario
II. History of USMC "Elite Units"
A. Pre WWII
E. Recent episodes
F. Attitudes of higher command to "elite" units
III. Development of USMC Special Operations Capable concept
B. Development of capability
C. Evolution of the program
D. Mission capabilities
IV. Comparison of Capabilities with the SOCOM community
A. Levels of training
B. Incorporation of SOC concept as an option to NCA
V. Current Issues
A. Inter-Service Friction
B. Doctrinal Insufficiencies
C. Training Resource Shortfalls
D. Roles and Missions
E. Marine Corps 2000
VII. Fictional Scenario
THE USMC SPECIAL OPERATIONS CAPABLE (SOC) CONCEPT:
AN ALTERNATIVE APPROACH
by W.J. Morrissey
Patch Barracks, Stuttgart
Headquarters, European Command (EUCOM)
0230 Hours, 21 December 1994
Colonel Clyde Butcher was just finishing his mid-tour
situation report as the Senior Watch Officer in the "war
room" at EUCOM Headquarters when his intercom rang.
"Sir, we have a FLASH precedence coming over the secure
"Thanks, Simons, send it through and alert the CINC's
deputy that we have a PEGASUS inbound."
As the call was placed, Colonel Clyde S. Butcher,
166-25-9934, U.S. Army, was convinced that this was the
information the Old Man was looking for. Over the last three
months he had been tracking the locations, activities and
psychological profiles of the leadership of the most radical
terrorist group to operate in the EUCOM AOR in a long time.
The group called itself the Nidal Jihad, after a terrorist
hero of the late 1980s. The NJs, as they were called, were
as violent an organization as had ever existed. . .and were
just as unpredictable. Now Butcher hoped that this message
might provide the location of the NJs main base camp.
"Sir, here's the dispatch. Do you want the standard
045521Z DEC 94
FROM: //CJCS/DSCOPS-J3/ALEXANDRIA VA//
TO: //CDR, EUCOM/PATCH BARRACKS, STUTTGART,GERMANY//,
INFO: SEE DISTRIBUTION
SUBJECT: LOCATION/PROBABLE DISPOSITIONS OF NIDAL JIHAD
REF: A. MESSAGE, DTD 065610Z DEC 94, SAB.
B. MESSAGE, DTD 145519Z NOV 94, SUBJECT:
SUSPECTED BASECAMP LOCATION
1. IAW REF A, THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS PROVIDED.
2. ELEMENTS OF THE NIDAL JIHAD ORGANIZATION HAVE BEEN
CONFIRMED AS THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE HIJACKING OF TWA FLIGHT
224 ENROUTE FROM ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT TO LONDON, UK. THE
AIRCRAFT IS A BOEING 747-400, WITH AN ESTIMATED 267
PASSENGERS ON BOARD. IT IS BEING DIVERTED TO THE
INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT LOCATED IN BANJUL, THE REPUBLIC OF
3. COMMUNICATIONS WITH THE TERRORISTS HAVE INDICATED THE
FOLLOWING DEMANDS ONCE THE AIRCRAFT LANDS IN THE GAMBIA: (A)
THAT AN INTERNATIONAL TELEVISION BROADCAST SIGNAL BE MADE
AVAILABLE TO ALLOW A SPOKESMAN FROM THE AIRCRAFT TO VOICE THE
HIJACKERS DEMANDS, (B) THAT THE THREE MEMBERS OF THE NIDAL
JIHAD ORGANIZATION CURRENTLY IMPRISONED AND AWAITING
EXTRADITION IN MONROVIA, LIBERIA BE RELEASED AND REUNITED
WITH THE HIJACKERS AND (C) A LIST OF ADDITIONAL ANCILLARY
ITEMS. THE HIJACKERS HAVE INDICATED THAT IF THEIR DEMANDS
HAVE NOT BEEN MET THREE HOURS AFTER LANDING IN THE GAMBIA, A
HOSTAGE WOULD BE EXECUTED STARTING AT THE THIRD HOUR AND THEN
EVERY HOUR AFTER UNTIL RESOLUTION.
4. INTELLIGENCE REPORTS HAVE CONFIRMED THE LOCATION AND
SIZE OF THE NIDAL JIHAD BASECAMP DESCRIBED IN REF B. THE
GOVERNMENT OF SENEGAL HAS AUTHORIZED U.S. "LIMITED POLICE
ACTIONS" TO INTERDICT THIS TARGET PROVIDED SENEGALESE
AIRSPACE IS NOT VIOLATED AND COLLATERAL DAMAGE IS MINIMIZED
AND THE GOVERNMENT IS COMPENSATED. THE BASECAMP LOCATION IS
CONFIRMED IAW REF B, WITHIN 2.2 KILOMETERS OF THE SENEGAL
5. THE NATIONAL COMMAND AUTHORITY WILL SEND, VIA SECURE
FAX, THE NSDD AND OTHER INTELLIGENCE DATA AS IT BECOMES
AVAILABLE. CABLE NEWS NETWORK HAS AGREED TO PROVIDE THE CREW
AND SYSTEMS FOR THE GAMBIAN BROADCAST. CNN CREWS WILL BE ON
STATION AT THE BANJUL INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT BY 0630Z.
6. THE ASSETS OF THE CIA/DIA ARE AVAILABLE AS NEEDED.
INDICATIONS ARE THAT THE GAMBIAN ARMY/SECURITY FORCE IS
UNABLE TO ASSIST IN ANY COUNTER-TERRORIST OPERATION, NOR WILL
THE GAMBIAN GOVERNMENT ACCEPT ANY RESPONSIBILITY FOR DAMAGE
TO PROPERTY OR CIVILIAN LIVES. IT WILL, HOWEVER, ALLOW ANY
OPERATIONS AGAINST THESE TERRORISTS PROVIDED THAT IT WILL
NOT, REPEAT, WILL NOT DIRECTLY INVOLVE THE GAMBIAN
GOVERNMENT, OR MORE IMPORTANTLY, THE GAMBIAN MILITARY FORCES.
7. PREPARE/PLAN RECOMMENDED COURSES OF ACTION (C/A) FOR
A SIMULTANEOUS INTERDICTION OF THE NIDAL JIHAD TERRORIST
BASECAMP IN SENEGAL, AND THE INTERDICTION OF THE TERRORIST
HIJACKERS IN BANJUL, THE GAMBIA. STANDARD CAM SITREPS APPLY.
Approximately twenty five minutes later, General Amos T.
Sedgewick, USA, was receiving his "upbrief" from his EUCOM
staff. "So in effect what you are telling me gentlemen,"
Sedgewick concluded, "is that we can mount the assets needed
to prepare for a counter-terrorist strike in Gambia, but we
don't have enough in-house assets for a simultaneous strike
in both places."
Colonel Bob Drummond, the EUCOM J-3 stood up. "In
essence, General, that is correct."
Sedgewick's eyes narrowed, "Well then, Bob, how soon can
I get additional assets?"
"Sir, our estimates are that additional forces can be
made available within 24 hours."
"That's great, Colonel Drummond," said Sedgewick icily,
"but I believe that I will have a hard time explaining the
twenty dead hostages to the President."
As the silence lingered, Bob Drummond pointed to the
briefing map. "Sir, there is one other asset within easy
reach of that basecamp. I believe that we can coordinate the
use of the Marine units in the western Med. As I recall, they
have just received the latest retrofit to the LCAC platform,
making it the ideal platform to breach that coastline.
"OK Bob, let's give it a shot. The Chairman is waiting
for our response. I'm really uneasy about this. . . my ass is
on the line big time. This type of operation requires the
type of skill, timing and coordination those damn snake-
eaters have. Even if this Marine outfit is available, how
can I be sure that they are capable?"
The USMC prides itself on an anywhere, anytime "can do
attitude. . .but in reality there is a clear-cut difference in
the capabilities, training and performance of the Corps and
in the Special Operations community it seeks to emulate.
The history of the "elite" forces of the USMC can be
traced back to the very origins of the Corps. From a
historical perspective, every member, past and present, has
viewed the Corps as an elite unit.
In a more objective examination, the USMC was struggling
for roles and missions during the 1930s when the principles
of Amphibious Operations were conceived and developed. It
was this very concept that drove the major pre-WWII emphasis
toward perfecting the theories and practical application of
amphibious warfare, which, in turn drove the type of units
that would be the focus of that effort. The situation, as
the planners saw it, required specially trained units for
very specific combat missions.
As the number of nations involved in the titanic
struggle of WWII grew, those sitting on the periphery
observed the successes and failures of military operations,
and adjusted their forces accordingly. The United States was
no exception, and in many respects, the United States Marine
Corps provided an almost ideal environment for these
experiments. For example, the Corps was one of the first
services to form Glider Forces, the Defense Battalions,
Barrage Balloon Battalions, and the ill-fated "Para-Marines."
One of the little known incidents of the Second World
War was the inclusion of parachute qualified Marines who were
dropped behind German occupied territory in France in a
valiant attempt to train, organize and lead resistance
forces. The Office of Strategic Services (OSS), precursor to
the CIA, selected and trained these brave men for their
arduous missions. (11)
Nonetheless the inspiring and controversial USMC
"elite" unit was formed at the insistence of LTCOL Evans F.
Carlson, who was able to capture the imagination of the
President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The idea matured during the two years prior to
the U.S. entry into the war. The British Commandos
executed raids against German installations on the
European continent and in Africa. The raids
suggested a certain audacity which had an immediate
appeal in the United States, especially after Pearl
Harbor, during the six months when American fortunes
were very low. Among those intrigued by the idea of
forming a U.S. version of the commandos was
President Roosevelt. (16: 1)
Accordingly, LTCOL Carlson enlisted the aid and
experience of the President's son, Captain James Roosevelt,
USMCR. Approximately one month after the attack on Pearl
Harbor, Captain Roosevelt wrote a letter to the Commandant of
the Marine Corps (CMC) proposing the formation of a unit that
eventually became known as the Marine Raider Battalion.
There were certain parallels between the concept of the
Raider Battalions and those of the British Commando.
President Roosevelt noted the successes of the British elite
forces in Europe as well as the Chinese (Communist) Eighth
Route Army in northern China while fighting the Japanese. It
was felt that a similar "hit and run" tactic would cause a
disruptive influence upon the operational strategies of the
Imperial General Staff as the Japanese lines of
communications (LOCs) were extended. It was this same
"people's army" that LTCOL Carlson had worked with while in
China, and had given him new insight in how to train, lead
and motivate subordinates. Carlson soon applied these
experiences in the way he led his forces.
With the formulation and integration of the two new
Raider Battalions, the following missions were assigned:
. . .mission of the. . .units was threefold: to be
the spearhead of Amphibious Landings by larger
forces on beaches generally thought to be
inaccessible; to conduct raiding expeditions
requiring great elements of surprise and high speed;
and to conduct guerrilla type operations for
protracted periods behind enemy lines.(16:3-4)
In addition to disrupting personnel and
training in regular units, the formation of the
Raider Battalions generated a variety of requests
for new and exotic equipment. Typical requests were
for riot type shotguns, Lewis machine guns,
collapsing bicycles, chain saws, scaling ropes,
rubber boats, bangalore torpedoes, and sufficient
automatic pistols to issue one per Raider. (16: 5)
Despite the successes of the Raiders in such places as
Guadalcanal-Tulagi, Makin Island, Aola Island, Viru Harbor
and New Georgia, the strategies in the employment of the
Raider units had changed. By late 1943, the nature of the
Pacific operations had changed to a strategy of the
application of overwhelming firepower to seize key island
approaches, which would then be used as a staging point for
additional operations. Due to the domination of U.S. naval
forces in the region, the most strongly held islands were
simply bypassed and cut off from their logistic support base.
Consequently, this change in operational strategy coupled
with a decreased demand for Raider type units could no longer
justify the required Raider allocation of resources, men and
materiel. Coupled with the latent resentment, or at best,
apathy, of the Corps senior command, the die was cast for
their eventual disbandment.
The raiders' skills became superfluous as the
primary military objective was to wrest control of
island groups from enemy forces. Harassment and
distraction became less important. The nemesis of
the (raider) units was rooted in a single
inescapable factor--certain elements of the Pacific
war did not develop as the planners had foreseen.
The assault and capture of small, heavily defended
land areas became the objective, and it was apparent
that the (raiders) were, at best, no better suited
to the task than were regular Marine infantry
Following WWII, the Marine Corps continued to refine its
capabilities in the amphibious warfare arena-band developed
the concept of rotary wing maneuver (Vertical Envelopment).
These developments evolved the force structure of the Marine
Corps into the todays Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF).
The MAGTF concept quickly became "battle tested" in the
mountains of Korea, where the MAGTF was decisive in holding
the line at Pusan. There was, however, no further
inclination to develop "special units."
During the mid 1960s, as the Marine Corps participation
expanded into the quagmire of Vietnam, came the emergence of
the Force Reconnaissance units, or Force Recon. Although the
entire Corps fought with distinction in Southeast Asia, the
exploits of Force Recon units seemed to capture the
imagination of those proponents for the organization of
It was not until the reemergence of the U.S. Army's
Special Forces during the early 1980s and the dramatic shift
in focus of the orientation of the war planners that a
sincere interest in the capabilities and potential of special
operations forces occurred.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE USMC SPECIAL
OPERATIONS CAPABLE (SOC) CONCEPT
A significant shift in thinking was dramatized by the
foresight of then (1983) Deputy Secretary of Defense William
H. Taft IV, when he stated that:
"U.S. national security requires the maintenance of
Special Operations Forces (SOFs) capable of
conducting the full range of special operations on a
world wide basis, and the revitalization of these
forces must be pursued as a matter of national
This assessment was predicated on a number of factors,
but was primarily focused on Third World friction, especially
in the absence of a potential U.S.-Soviet Union confrontation
(Fig 1). This "new world" would be affected by the following
* For every two persons on earth in 1975, there
will be three in 2000;
* Four-fifths of the world's population will
live in less developed countries;
* Urbanization will progress dramatically,
particularly in less, developed countries;
* There will be fewer resources to go around;
* The environment will have lost important
life-supporting capabilities; and
* The world will be more vulnerable both to
natural disaster and the disruptive effects of war,
yet the tensions that could lead to war will have
This would include the proliferation of arms, and in
particular, the weapons of mass destruction.
In light of the directives to build a force capable of
dealing with the emerging threat as well as managing,
budgeting and administering that operation under a single
joint billet, the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) was
organized. Despite an inherent capability to perform a
variety of special operations missions, the Marine Corps
steadfastly remained outside the purview of SOCOM. Perhaps,
it was a reflection of the past history regarding the
maverick approach of LTCOL Carlson in the organization of the
Raiders, nonetheless, the Marine Corps "refused to play."
Recognizing the political consequences of that action,
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General P. X. Kelley, CMC, directed Fleet Marine Force--
Atlantic (FMFLANT) to conduct a detailed in-house study that
* the Marine Corps possessed an inherent capability to
perform Special Operations in a Maritime environment
* certain initiatives could be taken to enhance resident
* demonstrated advantages of optimizing the Marine Corps
inherent capabilities to offer the National Command Authority
(NCA) a complementary capability to existing services and
joint special operations capabilities (Fig 2)
Consequently, it was clear that a number of these
missions were capabilities executable as part of an existing
MAGTF structure. Therefore, training in FMFLANT, focused on
the development, documentation and enhancement of these
skills oriented towards the smallest forward deployed
element, the Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). Doctrinally,
the Marine Corps Combat Development Command spearheaded the
publication of the MAGTF Warfighting Center Concept
Publication Number 8-1 (WCCP 8-1)) which provided the
guidance to Fleet Marine Force (FMF) commanders. The
publication focused on the methodology for institutionalizing
the MEU (SOC) concept and should be "used in the formulation
of training, organizational, doctrinal and acquisition
programs." (17:i) Additionally, SOC missions were
identified, beyond those conventional missions assigned to a
MEU. In order to be considered a bonifide MEU (SOC), the
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following capabilities were assigned:
* Amphibious Raids
* Limited Objective Attacks
* Non-combatant Evacuation Operations (NEO)
* Show of Force Operations
* Reinforcement Operations
* Security Operations
* Mobile Training Teams (MTT)
* Civil-Military Operations - Humanitarian/Civil
Assistance in Disaster Relief
* Tactical Deception Operations
* Fire Support Control
* Counter-Intelligence Operations
* Initial Terminal Guidance
* Electronic Warfare/Signal Intelligence
* Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT)
* Clandestine Recovery Operations
* Tactical Recovery of Aircraft, Equipment and Personnel
* Specialized Demolition Operations
* In-Extremis Hostage Recovery (17:2-3 to 2-5)
The listing below is for additional/proposed missions:
* Airfield Seizure
* Gas and Oil Platforms (GOPLAT)
* Maritime Interdiction Operations
* Reconnaissance and Surveillance (12 : encl 1)
DeterminIng the nature of what constitutes Special
Operations, by definition, changed from an environmentally
oriented missions (jungle, desert, etc. ) to types. (raids,
unconventional warfare) to a form of maneuver
(counter-terrorist tactical recovery). This broad
interpretation now encompasses the definition espoused by JCS
Operations conducted by specially trained,
equipped, and organized DOD forces against strategic
or tactical targets in pursuit of national military,
political, economical or psychological objectives.
These operations may be conducted during periods of
peace or hostilities. They may support conventional
forces\or they may be prosecuted independently when
the use of conventional forces is either
inappropriate or infeasible. (17:2)
The apparent success of the MEU (SOC.) program was so well
received In FMFLANT that an aggressive expansion program
occurred, particularly when the new CMC, General A. M. Gray
embraced the SOC concept as a major factor in improving the
training and readiness of deploying forces.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE MEU (SOC) - 1984 TO THE PRESENT
Over the last five years, the MEU (SOC) program has
improved the readiness of forward deployed units through the
increase in size of the combat forces assigned in order to
maximize (ground) combat power; increase the individual
combat skills of Marines assigned to those units: define hard
earned success and publish that data as a cornerstone
document for training standardization in the Marine corps.
When General Gray directed publication of FMFM 1 --
Warfighting, the emphasis was placed on maneuver oriented
combat, stressing the cohesiveness of a well trained and led
force -- in many respects, the hallmark of the MEU (SOC).
The successes shown by the MEU (SOC) units during
operation "Just Cause" (Panama), "Desert Storm/Desert
Shield", "Sharp Edge" (LIBERIA) and "Eastern Exit" (Somalia)
underscore the importance of these short-notice "come as you
The Somalian NEO was particularly noteworthy, not only,
because it was "a model for the kind of short-notice
contingency they (USMC) expect to address increasingly (more)
often now that the Cold war is over. . . " but because it
highlights the short chased planning and execution required
for success. (9 : A21) "Eastern Exit" was initially overshadowed
by the events in the Persian Gulf. However, the gravity of
the situation at the U.S. Embassy was so desperate that the
Marine Commander, "Col. J. J. Doyle decided to launch his
helicopters from the unprecedented distance of 466 miles
offshore." (9:A21) Despite the distances and some technical
complications, the NEO was executed flawlessly.
In evaluating the capabilities of all the services, only
the Marine Corps has the inherent mix of capabilities
available for use in complex special operations.
Additionally, the Marine Corps has historically based their
operational capability upon the successful implementation of
joint operations under a single commander. Until recently,
the focus on operations, particularly in the training
environment, did not emphasize joint operations. It was not
until joint operations were mandated with the implementation
of Goldwater-Nichols Act that all services were tasked to
work together. This relationship was traditionally formed
under a maritime commander, usually as part of a Joint Task
Force (JTF) Commander, or Commander Amphibious Task Force
(ATF). As a result, the capabilities of a MAGTF lend
themselves capable of performing a variety of special
Despite the programs success there are a number of
problems associated with the MEU (SOC) concept that have
tarnished its luster. The problems include, but are not
limited to the following:
* Inter-Service Friction
* Doctrinal Insufficiencies
* Training Resource Shortfalls
* Marine Corps 2000
There is an undercurrent of inter-service friction
Involving the SOC concept that is due to perceptions,
both real and imagined, and are coupled with a sense of
increased competition for a rapidly diminishing defense
It was clear that the focus of our senior civilian and
military\Ieadership, of the mid I980s, drove the resurgence
of the Special Operations Forces (SOF) concept. When the
United States Marine Corps took a different tact and
subsequently began their own SOC program, it paved the way
for counterproductive inter-service friction. As an example,
there is a great deal of agitation over the discussion of the
term "MEU (SOC)." Paraphrasing some of the issues voiced as
part of this research effort, this author has noted such
objections as: "the very nature of Special Operations
missions requires extensive intelligence, both pre and post
mission. . . mission planning is relegated to the smallest
element and then centralized at the higher staff level. . . the
level of individual training is often of a higher caliber
than anything that the USMC could attain." (Fig 3)
In addition, by doctrine, all SOF operators must
incorporate the "Special Operations Imperatives" into their
mission planning and execution if their forces are to be used
effectively. These SO Imperatives are:
* Understand the operational environment
* Recognize political implications
* Facilitate interagency activities
* Engage the threat discriminately
* Consider long-term effects
* Ensure legitimacy and credibility of SO activities
* Anticipate and control psychological effects
* Apply capabilities indirectly
* Develop multiple options
* Ensure long-term sustainment
* Provide sufficient intelligence
* Balance security and synchronization (4:2-15)
Consequently, the argument that a MEU (SOC) staff can
integrate these imperatives into a notional six hour planning
cycle strains the credibility of the SOC concept.
Despite the objections, no discussion ever centered upon
the capabilities of the Corps, or more importantly, those
roles assigned that clearly were the purview and expertise of
the Marine forces. Fundamentally, the nature of the
objections voiced concerning the SOC concept is a process
that would validate those skills via standardization of both
the education of those Marines in the program and then in the
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application of some demonstrated method of testing or
evaluation that will clearly demonstrate the skills required
With the integration of the SOC concept in 1984, the
Marine Corps has been struggling with the identification of
specific roles and missions for inclusion in the SOC forum.
Originally, eighteen missions were standardized for the
MEU (SOC) beyond the traditional MEU operational capabilities.
These missions have since been expanded by four (12:encl 1).
Despite an attempt to standardize the program via the
establishment of the Special Operations/Low Intensity
Conflict (SO/LIC) office and for training issues, the
establishment of the Special Operations Training Group (SOTG)
for each coast, it was not until 1989 that the FMF Commanders
standardized the procedures for conducting training and
operations for MEU (SOC)s throughout the Corps. The landmark
documents were MEU(SOC) OPERATIONS PLAYBOOK and the MEU
(SOC) TRAINING HANDBOOK (VOL I -- IV).
Since that time, there has not been a standardized,
published document that clearly identified the individual,
collective and unit objectives in training towards a
clear-cut TASK, CONDITION and STANDARD. As a result, many of
the SOC Exercises (SOCEX) are subjective evaluations based
upon ad hoc performance criteria, focused primarily upon
integrated staff planning. At the present time, a MCRES
Evaluation format has been drafted for approximately 25
percent of the SOC missions.
TRAINING RESOURCE SHORTFALLS
Tied into the issues of doctrine and standardization are
the integration of all elements of the MAGTF in support of
MEU (SOC) operations. Currently, there is deep concern over
the length and intensity of the 26 week MEU (SOC)
predeployment training cycle. This cycle is a tremendous
consumer of valuable training resources and coupled with (up
to) a six month deployment, severely erodes the "quality of
life" standards for many families of those assigned to the
MEU. Although this age old question pits training versus
readiness versus home and family, the fact remains that this
issue will become more pronounced if the size of the Corps is
diminished while the deployment commitments are not.
Potentially, a MEU (SOC) could either be conducting intensive
pre-deployment training or on deployment. Correspondingly,
reenlistments, unit transfers and marital/morale problems
will erode the very fabric of unit cohesion. In the near
future, HQMC intends to relook "the length and content of
MEU (SOC) predeployment training. In the interim recommend
that the current 26 week MEU (SOC) predeployment training
cycle be retained. . ." (14:3)
ROLES AND MISSIONS
To many observers, the Marine Corps appears to be
struggling in justifying its presence as a forward deployed
force. In reality, the capabilities of the MAGTF allow a
maximum amount of operational flexibility to an area CINC.
The shift in focus from the classic AirLand High Intensity
Conflict (HIC) battle of the central European plain has been
replaced by a more moderate Mid Intensity Conflict (MIC) to a
highly probable Low Intensity Conflict (LIC). Far more
plausible missions would include Show of Force, NEO,
Peacekeeping Operations and Nation Building in the form of
humanitarian/disaster relief. Although a unique and
necessary force, the USMC has always appeared to try and
emulate its land based giant "sister", the U. S. Army. In
many respects, the Marine Corps is far more capable of making
the adjustments to the changing threat than any other
service. Success in this arena is dependent upon enhancing
the inherent capabilities of the MAGTF.
MARINE CORPS 2000
The United States Marine Corps as an entity and a
service is unparalleled. There is no other organization in
the world that is capable of launching and sustaining sea
based operations as consistently or on a scale of the Corps.
Employed as a MAGTF, it has proven its unique "maneuver from
the sea" doctrine continually over the last fifty years.
Critics state that amphibious operations are outdated,
technologically obsolete "dinosaurs" that are no longer
valid. Specific examples include the fact that these same
forces were not utilized in their primary mission in the most
recent Desert Storm conflict. A counter argument may be that
although an amphibious operation indeed was not made, no one
bothered to tell the Iraqi forces, who took the threat
seriously enough to stage approximately twelve divisions in a
reinforced defensive posture in order to secure the Kuwaiti
coastline. "Just the threat of an amphibious landing by U.S.
Marines in Kuwait and the subsequent deception operation
committed thousands of Iraqi troops to that defense. . . that
might have otherwise opposed U.S. forces on another flank."
Clearly the secret and success of the Corps has been its
amphibious capability. In that light, one is predisposed to
concur that this amphibious capability is unique and organic
only to the Corps. Therefore, it remains the one capability
that no other U.S. force can duplicate. If agreement can be
reached on this fundamental issue, then this unique
capability would certainly lend credence to the theory that
amphibious raids/amphibious operations are, by their very
nature, special operations. Based upon this viewpoint, a
corresponding adjustment should be annotated to Title X
The Marine Corps shall be organized, trained,
and equipped to provide Fleet Marine Forces of
combined arms, together with supporting air
components, for service with the fleet in the
seizure or defense of advanced naval bases and for
the conduct of such land operations as may be
essential to the prosecution of a naval
campaign.(6:3-6) The Marine Corps shall be the
preeminent force in the employment of tactics,
techniques, equipment and implementation of its
Special Operations mission--Maneuver from the Sea.
Further, to facilitate a smooth integration of
amphibious raids/operations as a part of the special
operations matrix, would be to readjustment the title of
MEU (SOC), and designate those forces by what they really
do--the Marine version of the U.S. Army Rangers--the Marine
Raiders. Contrary to the opposition formed against the
concept of the Raiders in early WWII, sufficient time has
elapsed to heal all previous (USMC) wounds. Further, a
galvanization of support would occur from those veterans who
recalled the exploits of the early Raiders, and from
Congressmen and their staffers, who would finally be able to
distinguish what the Raiders could accomplish. Perhaps a
form of compromise could be attained with the SOCOM critics
who viewed the SOC term as a misnomer. Last but not least
consider the impact on recruiting and retention in the Corps.
The Raider Battalions would form the backbone of the
Corps Ground Combat Element (GCE) and qualified candidates
would earn special incentives commensurate with their
extremely intensive deployment and training regimens. The
incentives would replace the higher rank structure that could
jeopardize the entire Corps OM&N budget. All Raiders would
eventually participate/graduate from a qualification school
and return to their units. Since Title X authority would
authorize more training and operations funding, these
additional training requirements, in theory, would be
absorbed. In addition, cadre for the initial training could
be formed from some SOCOM assets--as later students would
inevitably come from the SOCOM community itself..
Standardization of all training, operations and concepts
would follow along the lines of published Department of the
Army Field Manuals (as a model) in order to cite specific
Task--Condition--Standards for all levels of training. (3:1-6)
Further, a standardized, detailed training and evaluation
program would be published. This publication would be
consistent with such individual and collective training
programs as FXP6 (Confidential) or the Army Training and
Evaluation Program (ARTEP). Validation exercises, similar to
those advocated by SOCOM in conformance to Goldwater-Nichols
legislation would be conducted by the FMFs, resulting In
mandatory inter-service training and cooperation.
Over the next three years will establish the structure
of the forces to carry forward into the 21st century.
Clearly, the key to understanding the dynamics of the coming
threat is to understand what it is not.
"Even when events like the Sino--Soviet split
or the war between China and Vietnam indicated that
communism was far from monolithic, we could be
certain that the Kremlin was the ultimate enemy.
And, while we disagreed over the means and ways of
national security strategy, nearly all Americans
considered the demise of the Soviet Unions power the
ultimate strategic objective." (13:22)
Since the early 1930s, the strength and purpose of the
USMC has been its unique capability pertaining to maneuver
from the sea. The time has come to return, with vigor, to
that concept and use it as a springboard for the challenges
Whitehouse Press Room
Washington, D. C.
011 7 Hours, 22 December 1994
Martin Fitzgerald, the White House Press Secretary,
studied the document in his hand.
"Are they ready?," he asked his assistant.
"Yes, sir. They are all seated and the networks are
into their promos. You can start anytime you' re ready."
Fitzgerald, a portly, middle-aged veteran of the press
wars, took his last gulp of coffee, absentmindedly palmed his
bald pate and walked out into the press room.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, the White House Press Secretary."
Clearing his throat, Fitzgerald adjusted the microphone
and winked at Cyril Soames, the matriarch of the press club,
who in deference to her age and power, always sat in the
"Ladies and Gentlemen, on behalf of the President of the
United States, I have a brief statement to read. Upon
completion, a copy of it will be made available to you as you
leave. I will not entertain any questions at this time.
At approximately ten minutes after midnight, Eastern
Standard Time, a combined military force consisting of U. S.
Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Special Operations
Forces conducted simultaneous operations along portions of
the west coast of Africa.
Intelligence reports are incomplete at this time,
however, the following -facts are known. The five terrorists,
allegedly from the Nidal Jihad organization, who hijacked TWA
Flight 224 and had it taken to the international airport at
Banjul, have been killed. There are no reports of U.S.
casualties at the moment--you will recall, however, that four
hostages were brutally murdered by the terrorists earlier in
the day. Simultaneously, a USMC Raider Battalion conducted an
amphibious operation along the coast of the west African
country of Senegal in order to interdict the suspected
basecamp of the Nidal Jihad. Reports at this time are
incomplete. However, the Raiders utilized naval surface
craft, the Landing Craft Air Cushioned or LCACs in order to
conform to the wishes of the government of Senegal concerning
airspace sovereignty. Reports at this time indicate complete
destruction of the basecamp and its facilities, with an
estimated number of enemy casualties at around eighty-five.
Marine casualties are considered "light", with no servicemen
confirmed missing or killed in action at this time.
Further updates will follow as they are made available.
I thank you all for coming at this late hour."
1. All Hands, Magazine of the U.S. Navy. Arlington, VA:
Navy Internal Relations Activity. December, 1987, 4-47.
2. Anderson, Jr., LtCol A.E., USMC(Ret). "The Corps and
Special Operations." Marine Corps Gazette. December,
3. Army Training and Evaluation Program (ARTEP) 31-807-
32MTP. Mission Training Plan for the Special Forces Company:
Direct Action. Washington, DC: Headquarters, Department
of the Army. October 1989, 1-1 to 4-6.
4. Field Manual 100-25. Doctrine for Army Special Operations
Forces (Approved Final Draft). Fort Bragg, NC: Commander, U.S.
Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School. April,
1991, 1-1 to 10-12.
5. Fleet Marine Force 1 Warfighting. Washington, DC:
Headquarters, United States Marine Corps. March, 1969.
6. Fleet Marine Force 1-2 The Role of the Marine Corps in
the National Defense. Washington, DC: Headquarters, United
States Marine Corps. June, 1991.
7. Fleet Marine Force RP 1-11 Fleet Marine Force Organization
1990. Washington, DC: Headquarters, United States Marine
Corp's. February 1990.
8. FXP 6 (Confidential) Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Exercises.
Department of the Navy. September 1989.
9. Gellman, B. "Amid Winds of War, Daring U.S. Rescue Got
Little Notice." The Washington Post. January 5, 1992, A21.
10. Jenkins, Major General, Dir Intell Div, HQMC. Professional
education lecture on his role as Commander, Landing Forces during
Operation Desert Storm/Shield, CSC Quantico, VA. February 19,
11. Kuralt, C., Columbia Broadcasting Company Television
Broadcast during the 1992 Olympic Games. February 19, 1992.
12. MAGTF Special Operations Capable, Standardization
Conference Paper. Headquarters, United States Marine Corps,
Washington, DC. January, 1992, 1 to Encl 4.
13. Metz, Steven, "US Strategy and the Changing LIC Threat."
Military Review. June, 1991, 21-29.
14. Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict Office, Position
Paper on MEU (SOC) predeployment Training Cycle. 20 September
15. Stone, Michael, "Strategic Force - Strategic Vision for
the 1990s and Beyond." Headquarters, Department of Army,
Washington, DC. January, 1992.
16. Updegraph, C.L. Jr. Special Marine Corps Units of
World War II. Washington, DC: Historical Division, United
States Marine Corps. 1972, 1-104.
17. Warfighting Center Concept Publication 8-1, Operational
Concept for Marine Expeditionary Units (Special Operations
Capable). September, 1990, 1-1 to 4-5.
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