For decades, earning your way onto an elite special operations unit has largely been about your performance on aptitude tests and during physically challenging assessments, but in the very near future, the Marine Corps’ special operations unit known as the Raiders, or MARSOC, may be looking to computers to help identify the best candidates.

MARSOC is currently experimenting with the idea that machine learning could be used to identify and track factors that lead to success for MARSOC applicants. By first identifying the unique traits that seem to make up the most ideally suited operator, the same practice could be employed on incoming classes — sifting through Marines that don’t possess the best traits for an operator and identifying those that are particularly well suited for the rigors of the special operations community.

Over this past summer, SOCOM officials began collecting and assessing a wide range of data points recorded during the selection process for the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command.

“It’s really going to be our first experiment. It’s exciting,” said David Spirk, SOCOM’s chief data officer. According to Spirk, the data collected pertains to every aspect of a potential operator with the exception of information that’s protected by the privacy act. Spirk went on to say that the U.S. Army Special Operations Command is also exploring a similar approach.