MSOC DFT – deployment familiarization training

What is deployment familiarization training (DFT) for Marine Special Operations Company (MSOC) and teams (MSOT)? A DFT is one phase (about 30-45 days) of the pre-deployment work-up that is conduct by even MSOC prior to deployment in support of the global war on terrorism. The DFT portion of the work-up is unique in the fact that it is usually the first time that a MSOT has the opportunity to meet and work alongside the collective members that will deploy on the team.

High-angle marksmanship training
High-angle marksmanship training

Up to this point, many of the members of the team have been off conducting individual training in preparation for deployment i.e. breacher, sniper, SERE and SSC course to name a few. This also includes the special operation critical skills (SOCS) members i.e. EOD, JTAC and Intelligence Marines. These individuals are assigned from the Marine Special Operation Regiment (MSOR), which retains these collective elements for training and proficiency purposes.

MSOT conducting weapon familiarization in Nevada
MSOT conducting weapon familiarization in Nevada

This is the first time that the team is complete as a special operations element. The purpose of the DFT is for MSOTs to focus on team level events and training. This is where teams build and refine TTPs and SOPs. It is the most important phase for a team to develop confidents and unit cohesion. MSOTs train and operator independently from the Company command element during this phase of the pre-deployment work-up.

A DFT is where the rubber meets the road for a MSOT; this is an opportunity the witness and evaluates the skill-sets and capabilities of fellow team members. Training event range from team level weapons familiarization on crew-served weapons, 60mm mortar and precision fire weapons. Cross training of skill-sets is also a unique component of the DFT.

Communications cross-training
Communications cross-training

This is the point when an MSOT truly feel like a team. The confidence that is built during this period both personal and team level is critical to the future effectiveness of the unit in combat. After the completion of the DFT, many team members go back to individual training and proficiency renewal events.

In the case of my team, MSOT 8222, the next time that our team was together we were in Afghanistan gearing up for a 5-day ground movement convoy to our new home: a remote forward operating base in the Bala Morghab River Valley. On day three of that convoy, we were ambushed by a small Taliban element just after sunset. It is in situations like this that the critical team building training from the DFT goes into effect. We were quickly able to gain fire superiority and get the convoy out of the kill area.

You never know when your team will encounter their first challenge. It may be day 120 of your deployment or day 3. You never know so have your shit in one sock before your boots hit the ground.

MSOT resting over night (RON)
MSOT resting over night (RON)

Related Topics

MARSOC by Fred Pushies

MARSOC Official Website

(Top photo: MSOT conducting deployment familiarization training in Nevada)


Dedicated to the loving memory and sacrifice of GySgt. Robert L. Gilbert & SSgt. Patrick R. Dolphin

Michael Golembesky is a former JTAC with 2D Marine Special Operations Battalion (MSOB) and author.

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Level Zero Heroes | The Story of U.S. Marine SOF in Bala Morghab, Afghanistan

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