Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance: A Special Breed of Elite Fighting Unit

Force Recon is a special breed. There are only about 1,000 Force Recon Marines in the Marine Corps and their training is as diverse and tough as any of the elite fighting units in the U.S. Military. Watch the video below and get a sense of what they do, how they train, and who they are.

As you will see, these men are trained to operate in small six-to-eight-man teams. They are the eyes and the ears of the Marine infantry units. Their job is specialized, and their training fits their motto: “Celer, Silens, Mortalis”, that is, “Swift, Silent, Deadly.” That motto alone will give you a sense of what their missions are like.

Photo: YouTube/U.S. Indo-Pacific Command

You will also see that it takes a special type to do this work. They have to be not only physically tough but equally as tough mentally. I was not in Force Recon but rather Battalion Recon in Vietnam. Though we shared the same motto and had a similar role, our training was not as extensive as that of these modern Force Recon Marines. These Reconners’ training is multi-faceted and intense.

I am including another video that is of an actual training exercise for Force Reconners of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). The excercise they are engaged in is called a Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS). This is the kind of training that might be utilized by the new Littoral Combat Units that are going to be formed from the 3rd MEU, which I wrote about last week.

Photo: YouTube/U.S. Indo-Pacific Command

This is a very complex and difficult kind of mission. In this case, you will see the Force Recon Marines inserted and extracted by helicopter. But this kind of thing could be done from the sea at night, for example. You will see that they are equipped with nighttime visual abilities as well. This is an exercise, so you can imagine that in a real-world situation, it would move much faster and with more intensity. But you get a good sense of how complicated the mission could be.

Photo: YouTube/U.S. Indo-Pacific Command

These Force Reconnaissance Marines are among the best of the best at what they do. They are focused, intense, and highly trained units. They are trained for absolute success. They know each other’s habits and moves. They have a bond that, as you will see, is greater than most. They have to. When you are a force of only six to eight men, you have to think and move and operate with both the mission and each other uppermost in your mind. They really are a well-oiled and highly tuned team.

Photo: YouTube/U.S. Indo-Pacific Command

I am proud to have served with men of this caliber. Those relationships are as tight today as they were over 50 years ago now. They were the epitome of Swift, Silent and Deadly and they remain, as always, Semper Fidelis. Oorah, Recon!

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