Recon Faq


Force Recon
Verified SOF
Mar 15, 2008
Tun Tavern

This FAQ was compiled by an instructor at the Amphibious Reconnaissance School.
Table of Contents

What is US Marine Reconnaissance & who are these "Recon Marines"?
What's the difference between "Battalion" & "Force" Recon?
Are women allowed to try out for Marine Recon?
I'm thinking about joining the Marine Corps. How do I become a Recon Marine?
I'm already IN the Marine Corps. How do I try out for Recon?
What training and schools can I expect to attend?
Do Recon Marines get more pay than other Marines?
I'm going to be a Marine Officer, how do I get in Recon?
Do officers in Recon units lead their Marines on missions in the field?
What is US Marine Reconnaissance & who are these "Recon Marines"?

US Marine Reconnaissance units are tasked with providing the commander of a larger force of Marines with information about his operational area. Their missions usually focus on specific information requirements which, due to their changing or unique nature, cannot be obtained by means other than putting a man on the ground to observe and report. Recon Marines are, by nature, capable of independent action in support of the larger unit's mission. We also are, as an additional and entirely separate focus, tasked with a wide variety of "direct action" missions which provide a Marine Amphibious Ready Group with a limited special operations capability.

We are similar in characteristics to Navy SEALs, Army Rangers, Air Force Combat Controllers, but complement, rather than replace the other services "special" operational forces. In cooperation with these special operations forces, the deployed Marine units (including Recon support) provide a theater commander with a range of options. Marine Recon retains our basic focus as a supporting component of the combined arms Marine Air/Ground Task Force, constantly forward-deployed in the security interests of the United States.

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What's the difference between "Battalion" & "Force" Recon?

Within a Marine Air/Ground Task Force there exists two separate recon units. The Ground Combat Element commander has a platoon of Recon Marines in his support. This platoon focuses on the Ground forces area of interest. This platoon is commonly referred to as the "Battalion" or sometimes "Division" recon platoon, as their parent command is the Marine Division.

The MAGTF commander also has a platoon of Recon Marines to focus on the MAGTF (Force) area of interest. They are normally the ones tasked with the "special operations" missions which draw the imagination of Recon hopefuls. They also retain their mission of general reconnaissance support to the force commander. This platoon is commonly referred to as the "Force" recon platoon as their parent command is the Marine Expeditionary Force.

With the addition of U. S. Marine Forces Special Operation Command (MARSOC) in SOCOM, the Marine Special Operations Battalions (MSOB) provide force reconnaissance and direct action to the DOD.

Basic training paths for Reconnaissance Marines in these units are similar. More advanced training focuses on a platoon's likely missions while deployed, so training individual and unit training paths diverge as a deployment nears.

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Are women allowed to try out for Marine Recon?

Under current rules, all recon billets are considered ground combat positions & so are not open to women.
Women's role in the Armed Forces is a hot topic today, however there are no plans to open the 0321 MOS (Recon) to women. I have seen women filling support billets (supply, admin.) in reserve recon units, although I imagine that is by exception & not something to plan your career around.

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I'm thinking about joining the Marine Corps. How do I become a Recon Marine?

The Recon enlistment option is designated UZ. The best chance of getting into Recon is to enlist with a UZ enlistment option contract. This enlistment option guarantees the enlistee the chance at getting into Recon.

Qualifications for this enlistment option include (but may not be limited to):

A GT of 105 or higher
No moral waivers
No drug waivers
Eyesight correctable to 20/20
Not colorblind
The ability to obtain a secret clearance
The UZ enlistment option is available by quota. If the quota has been reached, a recruiter may not be able to offer the UZ option to an enlistee until the next quota period.

In addition to the requirements above, the applicant must:

Complete Boot Camp
1st Class PFT
Score Expert in rifle qualification
Upon graduation of Boot Camp the Marine will attend the School of Infantry (SOI).

After SOI, the Marine will attend the Basic Reconnaissance Course (BRC). After successful completion of this school the Marine will be assigned the Primary MOS of 0321 - Basic Reconnaissance Marine.

If a Marine fails any of the steps along the way, his contract is modified from UZ to UH as if he had enlisted into Combat Arms (Infantry).

For recruits contracted with the UH enlistment option, it is also possible to volunteer for Recon while attending SOI.

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I'm already IN the Marine Corps. How do I try out for Recon?

Like any other lateral move, see your chain of command. In my experience, 0321 in grades PVT-SGT is anywhere from 10-40 % undermanned, so the opportunity is there. The typical situation is, a Marine who excels to the point of having a chance at Recon has a difficult time getting his current command to let him go. Successful recon candidates from the fleet that I have seen are exemplary Marines in their current unit, work with their chain of command, and are recommended by their First Sergeant or Sergeant Major to the local Recon unit SNCO's at the appropriate level.

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What training and schools can I expect to attend?

Initial training consists of Marine Recruit Training, & the School of Infantry, training as a rifleman. Students are then assigned to the Basic Recon Course. Upon successful completion of the BRC, Marines report to their assigned recon unit & receive various professional, technical and tactical training. Among these are: Airborne (basic and Military Freefall) Jumpmaster, Pathfinder, Ranger, Scout-Sniper, Combat Diver (SCUBA) Diving Supervisor, Mountain warfare & assault climber, Jungle operations, specialized training in urban tactics, Close Quarters Battle & shooting skills, demolitions, communications, photography, controlling aircraft landing operations and directing Airstrikes, Naval Gunfire and Artillery..

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Do Recon Marines get more pay than other Marines?

Recon Marines do not receive any incentive pay just for the recon qualification. Those Marines who are Parachute or SCUBA qualified receive hazardous duty pay while they occupy a billet which requires those skills. For instance, I receive both Jump & Dive pay in my current job, but when I was a Drill Instructor I did not, even though I remained qualified & continued to wear jump wings, etc. Like all Marines, those with foreign language fluency may qualify for language pay as well.

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I'm going to be a Marine Officer. How do I get in Recon?

Currently, Recon units gain their officers from two sources.
First is the Infantry (0302) officer who has typically has 2+ years experience in a Battalion with at least one deployment. At this point he's ready to be a Weapons Plt Leader or a Company XO. Some opt to take the recon indoc and, with approval from their chain of command, receive orders to a recon unit.
Second is the ground intelligence officer (0203) who attends intel school and infantry officers course before coming to the Basic Recon Course. Some even go on to receive their insert schools (jump & Dive). Upon completion of this school pipeline, the LT is assigned to a recon unit.
At the time of my last tour in 2d Recon Bn, we had 3 or 4 of the 0203 Intel officers & the remainder of our platoons had 0302 Platoon Commanders. We were short of qualified officers and some platoons had GySgt Platoon leaders as well.

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Do officers in Recon units lead their Marines on missions in the field?

Normally, the Recon Platoon Commander works in the Landing Force Operations Center (LFOC) or Combat Operations Center (COC). Here he receives reports from his teams, transmits direction to them & coordinates any support they need in the field. Recon Team Leaders are normally Sergeants or Staff Sergeants (some Force Recon Teams). The Team Leader is the senior man to go to the field on missions. Some missions require the full platoon to act as a unit, and in that case the Platoon Commander may also go to the field.

Marine Units in general seem to be led by at least one rank lower than the equivalent type of unit in other services..... a source of pride for Marines. To see another point of view, the Corps gets equal work from someone they pay significantly less.....

Then again, money isn't everything.

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Really good overview. I like that he goes in depth into both the path enlisted and officers can go- hear a lot about the enlisted route to Recon but not a lot on officers.
If you are going to BRC out of a unit on Pendleton, but live off base is it a requirement to live in the barracks while you are there?

I'm fairly certain you do unless you are an officer. I am sure someone here has more up to date information; I went to BRC when it was still down in Coronado and I am sure a lot has changed.
I read above that is says you have to shoot expert during rifle qualification and I was wondering if this is only for Force Recon or if you have to shoot expert to qualify for Battalion Recon as well. And if so, if you have a Recon Contract and you do not shoot expert do they send you to regular infantry then?
Hey I enlisted with an 03XX contract, My recruiter told me the only chance to get Recon is to get offered it in Boot, and don't....mess up. I just got to work on my PT....BIG TIME.
Is that true you don't have to have it in your contract?
I am curious about Ricochet's question too - it sounds like the UZ enlistment option just says the USMC will give you a try automatically (assuming you get it), and that UH means you actually have to convince people to let you try for Recon.

Another 2 questions while I am posting here that applies to both Recon and MARSOC - how do advanced courses work? I see them mentioned a lot ("some operators will go on to become snipers/pathfinders/jump-qualified/etc...."), but very little about the actual organization/application/admittance process. For example, once someone finishes BRC/ITC, can they only choose 1-2 of these, and that is it? Or, after say 1-2 deployments, could a CSO/Recon Marine who is jump-qualified then go on to do mountain assault, or something more like that?

Next, how exactly do contracts work? I see that contracts get modified (if you go in with a UZ contract and fail part of the requirements for Recon, for example), but what happens when someone fulfills their contract obligations in Recon or MARSOC? Can they re-enlist back into MARSOC? I figure this question is a little less pertinent (especially given I am still not even a poolee just yet), but I am curious about how these things work and happen.

Thanks in advance.
You go to advanced courses whenever your platoon/teams send you to them. Airborne happens right off the bat normally and then everything else as they come up. Ask questions about reenlistment after you've enlisted.
Also if it was possible to get orders to a recon unit as an 0311 without lat moving. I re-enlisted and part if the deal was I can request to go where ever here soon either another unit or a B-billet and I was thinking about trying to get into a recon bn and go to school that way since I screwed myself out of a contract by listening to the wrong people.
Jumping in on this pretty late. Do you know how often individuals from Radio Recon Platoons get sent to the BRC? I'm thinking about trying the indoc for Radio Recon in the next few months and am curious how often that happens.
Jumping in on this pretty late. Do you know how often individuals from Radio Recon Platoons get sent to the BRC? I'm thinking about trying the indoc for Radio Recon in the next few months and am curious how often that happens.

I am currently in 1-15, and we have 3 guys from RADBN. 2 from 2nd and 1 from 1st. They were saying not a lot of guys get to go, mostly due to their passing rate. They send less guys than anyone else so obviously less graduate. Most radio recon guys go to their own inhouse course. I forget what they call it.