Why MARSOC is not designated as Tier 1 unit?

Recon Marines wearing the full combat gear during the exercise Talisman Saber in 2007
Recon Marines wearing the full combat gear during the exercise Talisman Saber in 2007 (Photo: USMC)

Apparently, often we receive questions concerning the Marine Corps Raiders (MARSOC) 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) and 1st SFOD-DELTA (DELTA FORCE) and it is because of few specific things.


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 Raiders (MARSOC).

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.

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 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.

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.

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Table of Contents Unconventional Warfare (UW):Direct Action (DA):Special Reconnaissance (SR):Foreign Internal Defense (FID):Counter-terrorism (CT):Psychological Operations (PSYOP):Civil Affairs (CA):Coalition…