Good day Hard-Chargers!!
Got a very interesting question today. The very question was are Force Reconnaissance Marines, a part of SOCOM???
The answer is no they’re not.
Force Recon should not be confused with Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC).
MARSOC is Special Operations Command’s (USSOCOM’s) newest unit. (2007)
Force Reconnaissance is considered a “Special Operations Capable” unit, however, they belong exclusively to the Marine Corps.
One would have to understand how things worked prior to 2007.
The Marine Corps is considered the US’ elite force.
Therefore the Marine Corps is a quick reaction force and are experts at conducting amphibious operations.
Example: In WWII, the Marine Corps was deployed to the Pacific and began the “Island Hopping campaign” this was however years before the U.S. Army was able to land forces in North Africa and Normandy.
With the growth of the Special Operations community in the 1970s and 1980s, the Marine Corps resisted in creating its own Special Operations unit.
SOCOM was inaugurated in 1987, the Marines chose not to include their own Force Recon.
The reason for this was simple, every Marine is special and elite, therefore we refused to label Marines as being more special and elite than others.
Force Recon was created in the 1950s.
Its mission, then and now, was to go deep behind enemy lines in order to gather reconnaissance of the enemy.
They are similar to Navy SEALs being that they are heavily trained in airborne and combat diving techniques. This allows them to bypass traditional land defense systems.
The water, and swimming, is a heavy component of being in Force Recon.
The difference between them is that the SEALs’ purpose is to kill enemy forces, while Force Recon’s main purpose is to gather intelligence.
Force Recon’s mission is considered a success if no shots are fired. Marines in Force Recon are absolutely trained in direct action missions, and are capable of performing in combat situations, but that is not their primary role.
Now we’re going to jump to the events after the 9/11 attack.
The United States sent its most elite operatives (SOCOM) into Afghanistan way before it sent in conventional forces.
This is the role that Marines have historically been employed in.
However, since the Marine Corps declined to have any units in SOCOM, no Marines are sent to Afghanistan during the opening stages of the war.
The top brass of the Marine Corps had to suffer the embarrassment of being the only branch of the military with no troops in Afghanistan immediately post-9/11.
Due to these events the Marines, working closely with then Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, reversed course and created MARSOC to be the Marine Corps’ unit in SOCOM.
This was started in 2007, Its current role is a lot like the Army’s Special Forces (Green Berets), working closely with foreign militaries to help in training.
Since the Marine Corps has historically had a heavy presence in Southeast Asia, MARSOC has been working closely with military forces in the Philippines, Australia, Malaysia, South Korea, and Indonesia to train their military forces.
Force Recon does not belong to SOCOM, but it is still providing commanders with a valuable resource as “special operations capable” forces.
They get the same training and equipment as SOCOM forces, but they are fully under the control of the Marine Corps.
MARSOC is under the control of SOCOM, and thus Marine officers do not have final say in how they are deployed or used.
I hope this answered your question. Shout out to all the SOCOM operators out there.
Isaac J. Hall II