January 9, 2014:
MARSOC (Marine Corps Special Operations Command) is recruiting former military personnel with extensive military experience in North Africa and possessing or able to get a security clearance to work as role players in training exercises. The U.S. Army and Marine Corps have been using this sort of training increasingly since September 11, 2001. In the past these training programs, often complete with realistic villages staffed by Afghans or Iraqis recruited in the U.S. and trained to role-play what the troops will encounter in the real world proved very useful for troops headed for the combat zone. This new effort is apparently for the benefit of MARSOC marines who were recently moved from Afghanistan and are now being trained to handle assignments in Africa, specifically Arab speaking North Africa. Unlike the earlier role play training the MARSOC assignment apparently includes preparing MARSOC operators for classified missions as well as training assignments in North Africa.
In late 2013 the three U.S. Marine Corps special operations battalions (MSOBs) were withdrawn from Afghanistan and assigned to SOCOM (Special Operations Command) commands. The 1st MSOB was assigned to SOCOM Pacific, while the 3rd MSOB went to SOCOM forces in Africa, and the 2nd MSOB was assigned to SOCOM headquarters for use wherever the need is greatest. Each MSOB has three or four companies each with four 15 man special operations teams. With support personnel, each battalion has four-hundred to five-hundred men. The Special Operations Battalions provide a combination of services roughly equal to what the U.S. Army Special Forces and Rangers do, as well as some of the functions of the Force Recon units.
MARSOC has 2,600 personnel organized into a headquarters, a three battalion Special Operations Regiment, a Foreign Military Training Unit, and a Marine Special Operations Support Group. The marines basically lost two of their four Force Recon companies (one of them a reserve unit) in order to build MARSOC. Meanwhile, more troops have been added to division level reconnaissance units, to take up some of that slack. The Special Operations companies (with about one-hundred and twenty personnel each) can provide Force Recon capabilities to marine units they are attached to.