Force Reconnaissance has long been at the tip of the Marine Corps’ spear. Performing what is considered “deep reconnaissance,” these Marines were traditionally the best-trained, most mature individuals from the reconnaissance community, and were entrusted with missions commensurate with those attributes.

Today, the Force Reconnaissance Companies have been integrated into the Reconnaissance Battalions’ fourth company. What happened to these units? Who is now performing their missions? Did MARSOC usurp the Force Reconnaissance mission? To understand the answers to these questions, a short analysis of the recent history of the reconnaissance community is needed.

No single event or individual is responsible for the integration of the Force Companies. Instead, the process has been a sequence of decisions that, while having the best of intentions, have created ripples that have shaken the reconnaissance community to its core. When MARSOC was created, and the proposed mission analyzed, there was only one pool of men to draw on, and they came from the recon community, with a heavy emphasis on Force Recon. This had the effect of essentially downsizing the Force Recon Company to a level that was barely sustainable. To combat this problem, new blood was needed. The Force Recon Company had long been the goal of any recon Marine who wished to stay in for more than an enlistment.

Being a member of Force Recon was virtually a requirement for holding the billets of platoon sergeant or operations chief within the reconnaissance community, and it provided valuable skillsets to the Marines who were still within the recon battalions. After the rush of personnel to stand up the MARSOC Battalions, some of the most experienced Marines from the Reconnaissance Battalions were pulled into the Force Recon Companies to bolster their numbers.