Why MARSOC Raiders are not designated as a Tier 1 unit?

USMC Reconnaissance Battalions are the eyes and ears of the Marine Divisions
Recon Marines wearing the full combat gear during the exercise Talisman Saber in 2007 (Photo: USMC)

Apparently, often we receive questions concerning the Marine Raiders (MARSOC Raiders) and their status as the Tier 1 unit. MARSOC is not a Tier 1 unit. Despite they are not on that list, it doesn’t mean that they are not still badass. They are not Tier 1 unit 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-DELTA (DELTA FORCE), and 24th Special Tactics Squadron it is because of few specific things.

What are MARSOC Raiders?

Simple answer really — 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.

Marine Raiders often abbreviated as MARSOC Raiders are part of the United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command
Marine Raiders often abbreviated as MARSOC Raiders are part of the United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (Photo: MARSOC)

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, which are: Foreign Internal Defense, Direct Action, Counterinsurgency, Special Reconnaissance, Preparation of Environment, and Security Force Assistance.

They are, in some ways, similar to the US Army Special Forces (Green Berets) and the US Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment.

Why MARSOC Raiders are not Tier 1?

First, from my understanding, Tier 1 (Tier One) is, in fact, a Pentagon designation to determine how to use a SOF Unit, it has no bearing on the capabilities nor lethality of a given unit. The Tier 1 designation matters even less to Special Operators and candidates hoping to become Special Operators.

And yes, there are special jobs that Navy SEAL’s 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.

MARSOC Raiders aiming their weapons during the training
MARSOC Raiders aiming their weapons during the training (Photo: Pinterest/Marines)

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, which can be 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 from time to time on a rather infrequent basis. Marines have served in Tier One forces in the past prior to the re-establishment of the MARSOC Raiders.

US Navy SEALs in hard firefight with ISIS militants
A Navy SEALs in a gun battle in Iraq, 2016 (Photo: YouTube/Still)

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 in 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, then 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.

Marine Raiders (MARSOC Raiders) have long and extensive selection and training
Marine Raiders (MARSOC Raiders) have a long and extensive selection and training (Photo: XY)

Keep in mind 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, respect 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.

5 comments
  1. MARINE Raiders will never be a Tier 1 unit under a subunified command. MARSOC’s first deployment when they got kicked out of Afghanistan is a stain that they cannot ever remove. MARSOC had their chance to prove that their Tier one capable and they blew it in a big unprofessional disgusting way.

  2. Ignore that first post by one such “R.A.” Must be stuck back in 2007. As Fox Co. was exonerated in 2008 and has since been recognized and apologized to for the false accusation of war crimes. There is no stain on MARSOC that any other special operations group hasn’t been accused of before. MARSOC isn’t Tier 1 because it wasn’t designed to be Tier 1. Just like the SEAL Teams (minus one) they are designated Tier 2. Doesn’t mean an individual SEAL won’t be selected to Tier 1, but they don’t start out there. Raiders have operated with and will continue to operate with tier 1 units as needed.

  3. So first, what T.L. writes is exactly correct. They were innocent of the charges against them and were exonerating, even though it ruined the careers of several amazing warriors.

    Second, (to the author) don’t kid yourself, everybody wants to make it to the big leagues. The idea that these warriors don’t want to make it to the big show (Tier 1) is absurd. These folks, in all branches, are the alphas of the alphas. They definitely want a chance to prove themselves with NAVWARDEVGRU or the Unit.

    Third, (also to the author) you need to get your facts straight. Raiders have been selected and are another source in the pipeline to Tier 1 units. Look up Gunnery Sergeant Tate Jolly. Marines are now selected, upon their individual merits, to be a part of Delta.

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