There is often confusion regarding the Marine Raiders (MARSOC Raiders) status as a Tier 1 unit. It is important to note that MARSOC Raiders are not officially designated as a Tier 1 unit and do not hold that status. However, this does not diminish their capabilities or reputation. The Tier 1 Forces currently recognized by the U.S. military include DEVGRU (SEAL Team 6), 1st SFOD-D (DELTA FORCE), and the 24th Special Tactics Squadron.
What are MARSOC Raiders?
To put it simply, MARSOC (Marine Raiders) has been the Marine Corps’ contribution to the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) since 2006. Through rigorous training and education, MARSOC creates and maintains highly skilled combat athletes organized into small, adaptable teams of 14. They are Marines first, but their experience and training as expeditionary warfighters and MAGTF mindset make them well-suited for special operations missions. MARSOC Marines are Critical Skills Operators (CSO) or Special Operations Officers (SOO).
The MARSOC Raiders use specialized skills to carry out a range of complex missions as part of USSOCOM. USSOCOM and MARSOC invest significant time and resources in each Marine Raider, providing a level of training and preparation that is unavailable to conventional forces. CSOs and SOOs are ready for any mission, anywhere, and their proficiency in regional, cultural, and linguistic matters and their ability to work with other agencies, coalitions, and host nations make them valuable assets.
MARSOC’s mission includes six pillars: Foreign Internal Defense, Direct Action, Counterinsurgency, Special Reconnaissance, Preparation of the Environment, and Security Force Assistance. In some ways, they are similar to the U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Berets) and the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment.
Why are MARSOC Raiders not Tier 1?
It is important to note that the Tier 1 designation, as used by the Pentagon, refers to how a Special Operations Forces (SOF) unit is utilized and does not reflect the capabilities or lethality of the unit. This designation is not particularly relevant to Special Operators or those hoping to become Special Operators.
Navy SEALs and Delta Force have specific jobs qualifying as Tier 1, such as airplane hostage rescue. This means that other units, such as the Marines and the U.S. Air Force, do not need to train for these missions.
Unlike other SOF units, MARSOC closely connects with JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) and maintains strong ties to the Marine Corps. While MARSOC falls under SOCOM (Special Operations Command), they are still closely aligned with the Marine Corps. MARSOC is comparable to the 75th Ranger Regiment, a light infantry unit with good air support and amphibious capabilities. It is unlikely that a MARSOC unit will ever become a Tier 1 force.
Still, individual Marine Raiders may occasionally be selected to serve in a joint Tier 1 unit. Marines have served in Tier 1 forces before the re-establishment of MARSOC Raiders.
Becoming a Special Operator
Suppose you aspire to become a Special Operator, particularly a Marine Raider. In that case, it is more important to focus on achieving this goal rather than worrying about which Tier you will fall into. The MARSOC Raider/Marine Raider training program has a high dropout rate, even among those who make it past the tryouts, which are only open to exceptionally fit and experienced Marines. To become a Marine Raider, you must first excel as a Marine, pass the tryouts, and then complete the rigorous training. If you can achieve all of these milestones, you will join the ranks of some of the most elite warriors in the world.
It is worth remembering that lacking a Tier 1 label does not mean you are not skilled at what you do. Special Operators often work together on missions that require specialized training and generally have a high level of respect for each other, as they are all aware of the difficulty of becoming a Special Operator. Ultimately, it does not matter what Tier designation a unit has – the Marine Raiders are still highly capable and respected.