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U.S. Military Special Operations Forces

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Marine Recon

U.S. Marines from the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion examine local insects as part of their jungle survival training in Thailand during exercise “Landing Force Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training."

Official USMC Photo

"Recon" is the primary special operations forces for the Marine Corps. You can enlist in Marine RECON as a "guaranteed job." The way the Marines work this is if you sign a "Recon" contract, you'll be trained in recon, but if you wash out of training or the initial screening, or are medically disqualified, you'll be reclassified as Marine Corp Infantry. There is such an option for Reserve enlistees being assinged to a Reserve Recon unit. For active duty Infantry Recruits, while they are at the School of Infantry, they also ask for volunteers for “Recon” and then they take the Recon Screening. Once they pass the screening, they finish SOI and go to BRC (Basic Reconnaissance Course) and are placed in RMAT (Reconnaissance Marines Awaiting Training) and wait for a BRC Class to begin. If they pass BRC, they go to a Recon Bn and go through the “pipeline”. The chances of passing the screening and BRC are very slim. The Recon Indoctrination is hard for fleet Marines let alone someone coming right out of high school.

Like other Special Operations Forces, those wishing to become Marine Recon go through intensive training. In addition to Marine Corps Boot Camp and the School of Infantry, trainees then attend the Marine Corps Basic Recon Course, Airborne School, the Marine Combatant Diver School, and SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) School. This training takes about six months. After completing the Basic Recon Course and other training schools, trainees report to their assigned Recon Company and continue with On-the-Job Training. After completing their first "float," Marine Recon are eligible to receive more advanced training such as (but not limited to) Ranger, Pathfinder, EMT, Military Free fall, Jumpmaster, Applied Explosives, and the Mountain Leaders Course (Winter and Summer).

To apply for Marine Recon, Marines must score a 1st Class rating on the Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test and score a 105 on the GT portion of the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).

There are three Marine Force Recon Companies on active duty, and two in the Reserves.

Active Duty: 1st Force Recon Company, Camp Pendleton, CA; 2nd Force Recon Company, Camp Lejuene, NC; 5th Force Recon Company, Capt Butler, Okinawa

Reserves: 3rd Force Recon Company, AL; 4th Force Recon Company, with elements in NV, HI, TX, MT, NM and Alaska.

Guide Note: On 20 June 2003, the Marines took the first step to officially join the Special Ops Community. See related article.

The above are the elite of the elite. There are other members of the Special Operations Community, not covered here, such as the Army's 160th SOAR, the aircrew of the Air Force's Special Operations Command, Combat Weather, and Navy Small Boat Units.

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