This is the final installment of the untold story of the men from MARSOC Fox Company, and the leadership that failed them.

Major Scott Ukeiley (USMC), the MARSOC liaison officer, completed law school but was not able to serve in the Marine Corps as a staff judge advocate, so he chose the assignment as a Marine intelligence officer. Throughout the transformation of 2nd Force Reconnaissance Company into MARSOC’s 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion, Ukeiley served in the capacity as the executive officer, which by organizational order was an intelligence officer’s assignment.

As 1st Force Reconnaissance Company and 2nd Force Reconnaissance Company rotated to and from Iraq on six-month combat deployments since the start of the war in Iraq (From January 2003 until Jan 2006), many of the officers who served their time in tactical assignments as Force Reconnaissance platoon commanders became severely wounded, injured, or killed in action, or left the Marine Corps for civilian opportunities prior to their promotion to the rank of major. When Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ordered the Marine Corps to create MARSOC in the fall of 2005, the resistant and reluctant Marine Corps ultimately complied with the defense chief’s mandate after they had delayed carrying the order out for years. The Marine Corps was not the only organization resistant to the idea of Marines joining the SOF community; many within SOCOM were very clearly against it as well, albeit for different reasons.

Donald Rumsfeld observed frequent complaints from SOCOM about not having enough resources in support of early stages of the Global War on Terror (GWOT), and he realized that Force Recon was SOF-like, but was not being employed as such. Rumsfeld was specifically tired of hearing the complaints about not having enough “SOF guys” to do special reconnaissance (SR), which Force Reconnaissance excels at. Rumsfeld also knew Force Recon could do SR and direct action (DA) for SOCOM, and he wanted to know why they weren’t being utilized.

In late January, 2002, a plan was presented to the Marine-SOCOM board. Against strong opposition, it was argued that the Marine Corps already had these capabilities (DA, SR, coalition support, and foreign internal defense), and that with the war being primarily SOF-focused, sooner or later, SOCOM was going to run out of manpower to cover all missions that came up. The Marine Corps’ contribution was offered as a complimentary force to keep things moving, fill in the holes, and take up the slack where the SEALs, Rangers, and SF got spread too thin.

In a half-hearted attempt to comply, on December 4, 2002, Marine Corps Bulletin 5400 formally announced the formation of the Marine Corps Special Operations Command Detachment as a two-year test program called MCSOCOM Det One.

SOFREP spoke with a Marine officer who wished to remain anonymous, but was assigned to SOCOM headquarters at the time MARSOC was ordered to be activated. He had this to say about the resistance MARSOC encountered within the SOF community:

The average age of a Force Recon Marine at the time was 27.  The Special Forces guys, while very good at what they do, are generally much older and have many responsibilities outside of SR and Direct Action.  Force Recon was capable of so much more than SOCOM, with ranks at the time mostly filled with Army personnel, wanted to give them credit for.  The “experiment” of Det One was officially called a “study” to see if Marines were capable of integrating into SOF, which was a waste of time because of course they were capable.  It was a delaying tactic, or “slow-rolling” on the part of the Marine Corps and SOCOM until Rumsfeld left office.  The problem for them was that Rumsfeld ended up staying in office!