MARSOC will continue to support military operations in every theater across the globe, including missions from the sea, as Marine special operators embrace post-war amphibious missions.
Maj. Gen. Joseph Osterman, commanding general of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, said critical skills operators will continue deploying with Marine expeditionary units in keeping with a new concept.
The first six-man Special Operations Forces Liaison Element wrapped up a seven-month deployment with 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit in February. The team, which was led by a MARSOC officer and included enlisted troops from across the special operations forces, enabled the MEU to participate in 31 joint missions across two combatant commands.
SOFLEs are meant to encourage communication and coordination between Marines deployed to a region and special operations forces operating there. That type of coordination between the Marine Corps and U.S. Special Operations Command was a priority outlined in Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford's planning guidance and the Corps' post-war road map called Expeditionary Force 21.
MARSOC will also lead the next rotation of operators into Iraq as special operators work with troops to train local troops to fight the Islamic State group.
Here's a look at what else Osterman says is on tap for MARSOC in the year ahead. Responses have been edited for clarity.
Q. What new training or initiatives will MARSOC Raiders see in 2016?
A. MARSOC has grown into a mature organization over the last nine years. We continue to innovate and contribute to the theater special operations commander's requirement. For example, MARSOC will lead the mission command for the next iteration of Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Iraq in early 2016.
Q. Another SOFLE wrapped up a deployment with the 24th MEU in June. How did the concept work, and are there ways it can be improved or developed in the future?
A. The program has been working quite well and the SOCOM commander has made a commitment to continuing this effort by making it a program of record. SOCOM has conducted several after-action reviews of the lessons learned to date and has incorporated several small changes already based on that feedback.
Maj. Gen. Joseph Osterman, head of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, addresses members of the media following a Navy Cross ceremony at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Osterman said his command has grown into a mature organization over the past nine years.
Photo Credit: Sgt. Maricela Bryant/Marine Corps
Q.What other parts of the world and missions are current priorities for MARSOC?
A. Since the drawdown in Afghanistan, MARSOC has regionalized our operational forces in order to provide better support to the combatant commands in three key regions: Africa, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region.
MARSOC maintains a persistently forward deployed reinforced Marine special operations company in each of these three regions. These reinforced companies can execute the full spectrum of special operations, and MARSOC will maintain our forward capability persistently in each region through rotational deployments.
Q.What are some of the benefits of sending Raiders on those rotations?
A. Each reinforced company combines a healthy mix of combat, combat support and combat service Marines and sailors into a cohesive team. They can then be employed as a single entity or broken into separate teams or even smaller elements, depending on mission requirements.
By being forward deployed, Marine special operations companies are more agile in response to emerging theater requirements and more able to conduct sustained, meaningful partner nation engagements.
Q. What is MARSOC's current end-strength, and have goals for that number changed at all?
A. MARSOC has authorized end strength of 2,742 active-duty Marines, but we don't provide specifics on the total number of trained operators or specialists. We have sufficient critical skills operators, special operations officers and special operations capabilities specialists to meet all of our operational requirements.