Often we receive questions concerning the Marine Raiders (MARSOC Raiders) and their status as the Tier 1 unit. MARSOC Raiders are not designated as a Tier 1 unit and they are not a Tier 1 unit. Although they are not on that list, it doesn’t mean that they are not still badass. They are not Tier 1 units, and we don’t know will they ever be there, but from my understanding, Tier 1 Force only includes DEVGRU (SEAL Team 6), 1st SFOD-D (DELTA FORCE), and 24th Special Tactics Squadron it is because of few specific things.
What are MARSOC Raiders?
Simple answer: MARSOC is the Marine Corps” contribution to the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) since 2006.
Through intense and specialized training and education, MARSOC develops and maintains agile combat athletes, task-organized into small, adaptable teams of 14-men. They are Marines first, and their MAGTF mindset, as well as their experience and training as expeditionary warfighters, integrates perfectly with SOCOM’s’ mission on the battlefield well into the future. They are often referred to as Marine Raiders or MARSOC Raiders.
SOF Marines are appropriately called Critical Skills Operators (CSO) or Special Operations Officers (SOO). Marine Raiders use vital and specialized skills to execute an array of complex missions as a part of USSOCOM.
The SOCOM and MARSOC invest substantial time and resources in each Marine Raider, to a degree unlike anything available to conventional forces. CSOs and SOOs are prepared for any mission, anywhere. Regional, cultural, and linguistic proficiency and their ability to work with interagency, coalition, and host nation personnel make CSOs and SOOs invaluable assets.
Their mission consists of six pillars: Foreign Internal Defense, Direct Action, Counterinsurgency, Special Reconnaissance, Preparation of Environment, and Security Force Assistance.
Why are MARSOC Raiders not Tier 1?
First, from my understanding, Tier 1 (Tier One) is a Pentagon designation to determine how to use a SOF Unit; it has no bearing on a given unit’s capabilities or lethality. The Tier 1 designation matters even less to Special Operators and candidates hoping to become Special Operators.
And yes, there are specific jobs that Navy SEALs’ and Delta force train for that qualify as Tier 1. There’s no need for the Marines or the U.S. Air Force to both train for airplane hostages rescue when that’s Delta Force’s job and so on.
Unlike other Special Operations Forces (SOF), MARSOC is somewhat tied in with JSOC but still has strong connections with the Marine Corps. While MARSOC does fall under SOCOM, they are still tethered to the Marine Corps, like bulldogs. They hate letting go of anything they get their teeth on. MARSOC is on par with the 75th Ranger Regiment. They’re a light infantry unit with good air support and amphibious capabilities. So they’ll probably fill the niche between the Army Rangers and the Navy SEALs (not DEVGRU).
It’s’ unlikely a Marine Raider unit will ever become a part of the Tier 1 forces. However, individual Marine Raiders will likely be selected to serve in one of the joint Tier One forces on a relatively infrequent basis from time to time. Marines have done in Tier One forces before the re-establishment of the MARSOC Raiders.
Becoming a Special Operator
If you’re hoping to become a Special Operator (specifically a Marine Raider), you should stop worrying about what Tier you will fall into once you become a Special Operator. You should worry more if you will become a Special Operator.
MARSOC Raiders / Marine Raiders enlistment training has a high dropout rate, and that’s of the individuals who make past the try-outs, and those who try out all happen to be exceptionally fit and seasoned Marines. So to be a Marine Raider, you first have to be a great Marine, pass the try-outs, and then make it through the long rigorous training. If you can make it to each of those categories, you’ll join the ranks of some of the most elite warriors on Earth.
Remember that just because you don’t’ have that Tier 1 label doesn’t’ mean you aren’t the best at what you do. Special Operators frequently work together on missions that require specialized training. Everyone in the special ops community, for the most part, respects one another because they all know how hard it is to get in.
It doesn’t matter what Tier designation they have; the Marine Raiders are still badass.