How To Become A MARSOC Raider In 3 Steps

Joining the Military
Marines in U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command's new Assessment and Selection Preparation and Orientation Course conduct a 10-mile hike Sept. 29, 2010 aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C. ASPOC is designed to prepare Critical Skills Operator candidates for the challenges of Assessment and Selection.
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Kyle McNally

Occasionally, someone will ask me for advice on how to pass the United States Marine Corps Special Operations Command assessment and selection course, the first step to become a MARSOC Raider, which I did in 2008. These days there is no shortage of reading out there espousing what workouts one should do in preparation to become a member of Special Operations. Fear not, for I will not bore you with another calisthenic/Crossfit/SEALfit/bullshit routine, nor provide false tips on how to save your knees from the countless miles you should be spending with a pack on your back.


RELATED: This Marine is about to run 161 miles in honor of fallen servicewomen »

My answer to how to prepare for MARSOC training isn’t actually even about the physical — it’s all about the mental. Those legendary intangibles, the all too often glossed-over qualities required in special operations are the most important. So here is what it takes:

1. Show up. First and foremost you have to show up. If every operator had a nickel for every time someone told them about the time they thought about going to selection, but didn’t for some bullshit reason, SOCOM wouldn’t need re-enlistment bonuses. The reality is most people talk themselves out of attending selection before they even start. This self-selection is probably the most important part of the process. To those would-be operators out there: fuck what everyone else says, show up.

2. Don’t Quit. Once you have passed that first step, remember one thing — don’t quit, ever. Not for a little bit, not cause your feet hurt, not because you’ve got broken bones. Not quitting is the single most important quality in any operator. Assessment and selection is designed to answer one question — are you a quitter? This fundamental question needs to be answered before any special operation command can invest any resources in training you.

The beauty of Assessment and Selection is that you can drop on request at any time. The course is designed to make you want to quit. The formula is simple. How much stupid, painful, ridiculous, seemingly useless shit can I ask you to do before you will give up? A friend of mine used to always say, “We’re not particularly smarter or stronger. We’re just the idiots who don’t know when to say enough.” Indeed, most rational people wouldn’t cover over 20 kilometers of land navigation in a day or push a broken jeep across a map, just because they were asked. Most people wouldn’t march with a pack in the pitch dark of night, not knowing where they were going, or when they would get there, with no track of time and no communication, all while being evaluated on unknown criteria. But, that is why most people are not special operators.

Why do we care if you’re a quitter? Operators are thrust into daunting and unforgiving challenges in harsh and ambiguous environments. When a team of less than 15 operators is leading 100 panicky Afghan commandos into a hostile village assault, you want to be sure that none of those operators are going to quit on you. In this regard, assessment and selection is the perfect tool for separating the mentally strong and willing, from the unworthy.

3. Adapt. Although torturous, assessment and selection is not completely arbitrary. Why would they require people to complete impossible challenges with inadequate resources and insufficient time? Because, that is the life of a special operator. Why would they create difficult situations surrounded in ambiguity in a team environment? Because they need to know how you’ll function under the most stressful of circumstances down range.

Commanders love special operators because they are good at mission accomplishment, whatever the mission may be. Adaptability is the name of the game, not just to the situation on the ground but having the capacity to do it all. Teams function on a concept of redundancy. Everyone needs to know everyone else’s job, understanding that at any given point someone can be taken out of the fight. Those situations are never accommodating, in fact, those situations always seem to be the worst-case scenarios. A well-functioning team will always accomplish the mission, regardless of setbacks, because everyone in the stack can adapt and do the job of the man who went down.

In summary: show up, don’t quit, adapt, and you are well on your way to becoming a pipe hitter.

And if all that fails always remember to follow the Recon rules: 1. Always look cool, 2. Never get lost, 3. When in violation of rule 2, follow rule 1.

(Air Force photo / Tech Sgt. Oneika Banks)

Kirtland Air Force Base isn't much different from the world beyond its gates when it comes to dealing with mental illnesses, a base clinical psychologist says.

Maj. Benjamin Carter told the Journal the most frequent diagnosis on the base is an anxiety disorder.

"It's not a surprise, but I anticipate about anytime in the population in America, about 20% of the population has some form of diagnosable anxiety disorder, and it's no different in the military," he said.

Leading the way among the anxiety disorders, he said, were post-traumatic stress disorder "or something like panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder."

Read More
(National Archives / Marine Corps Photo / WO Obie Newcomb, Jr., November 1943)

The DNA of a niece and nephew, who never met their uncle, has helped identify the remains of the Kansas Marine who died in WWII.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced that 21-year-old U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Raymond Warren was identified using DNA and circumstantial evidence. Warren had been buried in a cemetery in the Gilbert Islands, where he was killed when U.S. forces tried to take secure one of the islands from the Japanese.

The Battle of Tarawa lasted from Nov. 20 to Nov. 23, 1943, and claimed the lives of 1,021 U.S. marines and sailors, more than 3,000 Japanese soldiers and an estimated 1,000 Korean laborers before the U.S. troops seized control, the agency said.

Read More
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff. Sgt. Daniel Snider)

Arizona lawmakers are vowing to fight a plan by the Air Force to start retiring some of the nation's fleet of A-10 Thunderbolt II ground-attack jets — a major operation at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base — as part of a plan to drop some older, legacy weapon systems to help pay for new programs.

U.S. Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., a former A-10 pilot, and U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., both vowed to fight the move to retire 44 of the oldest A-10s starting this year.

During a press briefing last week, Air Force officials unveiled plans to start mothballing several older platforms, including retiring some A-10s even as it refits others with new wings.

Read More

MOSCOW/SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea, whose leader Kim Jong Un was filmed riding through the snow on a white stallion last year, has spent tens of thousands of dollars on 12 purebred horses from Russia, according to Russian customs data.

Accompanied by senior North Korean figures, Kim took two well-publicized rides on the snowy slopes of the sacred Paektu Mountain in October and December.

State media heralded the jaunts as important displays of strength in the face of international pressure and the photos of Kim astride a galloping white steed were seen around the world.

North Korea has a long history of buying pricey horses from Russia and customs data first reported by Seoul-based NK News suggests that North Korea may have bolstered its herd in October.

Read More
Screenshot of a propaganda video featuring former Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A high-profile local Taliban figure who announced and justified the 2012 attack on teenage Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai has escaped detention, Pakistan's interior minister confirmed a few days after the militant announced his breakout on social media.

Former Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan, who claimed responsibility on behalf of his group for scores of Taliban attacks, proclaimed his escape on Twitter and then in an audio message sent to Pakistani media earlier this month.

The Pakistani military, which had kept Ehsan in detention for three years, has declined to comment but, asked by reporters about the report, Interior Minister Ijaz Shah, said: "That is correct, that is correct."

Shah, a retired brigadier general, added that "you will hear good news" in response to questions about whether there had been progress in hunting down Ehsan.

Read More