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 his command will continue supporting a new concept in which teams of special operations troops from across the services deploy with MARSOC companies continue to operate in every theater around the globe -- as well as aboard Marine expeditionary units ships in keeping with a newdeployment concept. Here are his responses to Marine Corps Times questions.
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.
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 new training or initiatives will MARSOC Raiders see in 2016 in the next 12 months?
A. MARSOC has grown into a mature Special Operation Forces organization over the last nine years and we are on a sustainable operational path. We MARSOC continues to innovate and dynamically contribute to the theater special operations commander's 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 The Special Operations Forces Liaison Element proof of concept phase is wrapped up a deployment with the return of the 24th MEU in June. arine Expeditionary Unit. From MARSOC's perspective, hHow did the concept work, and are there? Are there any ways it can be improved or developed in the for future teams?
A. The program has been working quite well and the SOCOM, based on the initial success, the [U.S. Special Operations Command] 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. The entire SOF enterprise participates in the [Amphibious Ready Group]/ MEU SOFLE program and we are all committed to its success.
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 Theater Special Operations Commands in three key regions: Africa, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region. AFRICOM, CENTCOM and PACOM. To that end,
MARSOC maintains a persistently forward deployed reinforced Marine special operations company in each of these three regions. These reinforced companies MSOCs 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? other parts of the world and missions are current priorities for MARSOC?
A. While each deployed MSOC is task organized according to theater requirements, they share common characteristics. Each reinforced company MSOC combines a healthy mix of combat, combat support and combat service Marines and sailors into a cohesive team. They MSOC can then be employed as a single entity or broken into as separate teams Marine Special Operations Teams or in even smaller elements, depending on mission requirements.
By being forward deployed, Marine special operations companies are the MSOC is more agile in response to emerging theater requirements and more able to conduct sustained, meaningful partner nation engagements.
Q. Earlier this year you mentioned the possibility of Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Forces linking up with SOF teams to improve interoperability. How has that concept progressed or evolved?
A. I can say that at MARSOC we have seen a growing dialog and interaction between the SP-MAGTFs and SOF over the last year.
Q: With Jade Helm winding down, what has been the extent of MARSOC troops' participating in the exercise? What have been the benefits of being a part of it and what skills have the Marines been able to hone?
A: I won't address specific exercises, but I will say that our objectives with every exercise we conduct or participate in, whether Jade Helm, Dawn Blitz, our own Raven exercises or overseas exercises with partner nations, is to rehearse and refine our SOF skills, the collective capabilities of our reinforced Marine Special Operations Companies and our ability to integrate and interoperate with conventional forces on the joint battlefield.
Q. What is MARSOC's current force end-strength, and have goals for that number for MARSOC? Have end strength goals 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 From that force, we deploy fully integrated and enabled MSOCs to [U.S. Central Command], [U.S. Pacific Command] and [U.S. Africa Command]. MARSOC has sufficient critical skills operators, special operations officers and special operations capabilities specialists to meet all of our operational requirements, and does not provide specific numbers with regard to the number of trained operators or specialists.
Q. MARSOC reviewed training standards ahead of the possibility that the command will open to women in 2016. Has that review been completed, and has MARSOC made any changes to its training or practices as a result? Has the review of MARSOC training standards ahead of force integration been completed at this point? Has MARSOC made any changes to its practices or training as a result of the review?
A. MARSOC is adhering to the requirement to review and validate standards as gender neutral.