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US Marines Move Snipers from Infantry Battalions to Recon & MARSOC

There’s been quite a bit of grump king recently over USMC plans to move their Snipers from Infantry Battalions where they are organized in Scout Sniper Platoons to Reconnaissance Bns and Marine Corps Special Operations Command.

The move was made official late last week with release of a message which “directs immediate transition of Scout Sniper Platoons to Scout Platoons.” The move comes as part of Force Design 2030 and is reportedly due to the inability of Scout Sniper Platoons to provide continuous all-weather information on the battlefield.

Currently, Scout Sniper Platoons consist of 18 Marines. According to the message, “The Commandant of the Marine Corps agreed to establish a scout platoon within the Infantry Battalion to provide the commander with relevant, reliable, accurate, and prompt information. The Scout Platoon consists of 26 Marines, four teams of six infantry Marines led by a First Lieutenant and infantry Gunnery Sergeant. Trained designated marksmen and precision rifles will remain within the Infantry Company.”

Along with the move comes a new Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) for Snipers. They will no longer have the secondary MOS of 317. Instead, Marine Corps is establishing the Reconnaissance Sniper (0322) MOS, for designated 0321 MOS Reconnaissance Marines, which will be organic to reconnaissance battalions.

As for relying on MARSOC Snipers, the Marine Corps is writing a check they may not be able to cash since MARSOC provides forces to Special Operations Task Forces and not Marine Expeditionary Units.

17 Responses to “US Marines Move Snipers from Infantry Battalions to Recon & MARSOC”

  1. James says:

    Kinda makes sense if you’re trying to spread and push down capabilities-bigger more capable reconnaissance element for everyone,some degree of precision rifle pushed all the way down( maybe a move away from/supplement to M38???)Any word on how the schools will be handled?Recon went it’s own way for Snipers to eliminate duplication of course material, but that’s a lot of legacy to just dump by transitioning to a Scout/Reconnaissance-lite school for everyone else.

    • SSD says:

      Schools? They’re killing Scout Sniper school. That’s the only thing they’ve mentioned.

      • James says:

        Gotya. Just hoping they’d try to keep it rolling in another form with a course for the Scouts even without an MOS.

  2. Will says:

    This is surprising. Being a Scout Sniper was quite an achievement for a Marine. I wonder what the path to becoming a sniper will look like going forward.

    • James says:

      Recon then their Sniper course, but I think there are some other specific courses like Mountain sniper at Bridgeport. Maybe some of those will remain a possibility without getting the MOS.

      • ELS says:

        Yes, their only recourse would be to go to BRC, become and 0321, then go to RSC the new Recon Sniper Course (by all accounts, a pretty good shooting course).

        Or go to MARSCOC, then MASC.

        The follow on Sniper schools, Mountain, Urban, Advanced (for Infantry BN Sniper TLs)… I’m not sure what will happen to them. Initial first guess is they will be shuttered?

  3. Joey Johnson says:

    So the JTACs and JFOs and FOs. Stay with the infantry companies or are they putting them in HHCs? I only ask cuz I am a former fister turned JTAC. Wondering where they will stick my brothers.

    • ELS says:

      JTACs will still attach from artillery BNs. Infantry BNs can still send whoever they want to JFO and put them in whatever element they want. This letter really has nothing to do with how FiSTs will be staffed/employed.

  4. ELS says:

    I have a few emotions wrapped up in this decision by the Marine Corps, but I will attempt to leave them out of this post.

    This decision appears to have been made by individuals who are out of touch with the realities of how the BN operates.

    Most Scout Sniper Platoons I am familiar with, to include the one I am in, are already aiming for 4 teams of 6 Marines. The barrier to reaching this T/O is typically the lack of qualified/capable volunteers. There is no service-wide decision that can fix that.

    SSPs are already a robust asset capable of all-weather, day & night, continuous, systematic reconnaissance and surveillance. Changing the name & cancelling allocations to the only formal scouting school the Marine Corps offers will not further enable BNs to conduct their own R&S.

    Precision fires is being completely tossed out the window here, and I can’t even begin to formulate an idea of how the service plans to address that. Company level DMs already receive little-to-no training, and that is not an exaggeration. Any BN that is providing training to their DMs is doing so through training facilitated by 0317s.

    At the end of the day the mission will remain the same for the platoon, whatever the name is. I think most commanders are still going to want those R&S elements to carry a precision fire capability. There just won’t be anyone trained to do it.

    Is it the end of the world? I guess not. Can I make it make any sense in my head? Also, no.

    • Tim says:

      Well said brother. There are a host of reasons why this is a bad idea. And there are tons of people on here speaking from a position of relative ignorance on the issue. Bottom line, CMC has removed a capability from the infantry battalion commander’s control and has yet to even determine what the replacement will look like. Sure, we know how many Marines will man the platoon. But we don’t know what the new “Scout” training course will look like. Nor do we know if it will provide enough throughput to sustain a real capability in that new platoon, because it doesn’t exist yet. Cart before the horse? Current Scout Snipers are being tasked with figuring out what their replacement training will look like even as we speak. The article is fundamentally flawed in that it gives the impression that Scout Snipers are being replaced by the “addition” of Recon and MARSOC snipers. This is not an addition. Those guys have always had trained snipers in their units to support their internal mission sets. They will continue to do so, but they will never have the capacity to backfill for the loss of an entire platoon of snipers for every infantry battalion. So much more to unpack here, but that’s just for starters.

  5. Criss says:

    As a Marine who went through the first west coast sniper school after Vietnam, I gave classes to the battalion Co’s and Xo’s on how to use snipers in support of the infantry. They thought it was a strange idea but it worked. It looks like they are changing it again.

  6. Sancho says:

    Two observations. Real time weather? The USAF repurposed it’s Combat Weather Teams into Special Reconnaissance because they could get the data they needed via computer. Or so I read. Second, shuttering the school hurts the field. It is difficult to maintain a standard if there are different places teaching different things. Best of luck to the shooters.

  7. John says:

    It is important to remember what the battlefield will look like in 10-20 years. A strategic restructuring goes much further than what the BN level organizational characteristics are and how the individual Marine sees it. How will snipers continue to remain relevant and be force multipliers in the continuously evolving operating environment?

    If history and past conflicts has shown us anything about specialized assets (especially snipers), remaining well-funded, trained, and relevant is a huge challenge. Especially during peace time.

    There are individuals who have a much better idea of the myriad of threats and environments the US military will face, and obviously sees this as a viable transition to continue to allow reconnaissance, surveillance, and sniper assets to have an important place on the future battlefield.

  8. frank says:

    Are these snipers going to be automatically incorporated into the more “elite units” as snipers, or just lose their sniper designation, and turned into ordinary grunts?

    • SSD says:

      Since both organizations have assessments, I’d imagine they’ll be given the same opportunity to assess as other Marines and if they make it, it will be up to those organizations if they want to use them as snipers.
      Otherwise, they’ll just become scouts as part of the new scout platoon.

  9. Retired Soldier says:

    From the Halls of the Pentagon, to the Shores of Insanity… It is similar to when the Army did away with small airborne units such as Long Range Surveillance and Pathfinders. This was done to make room for more UAV units. The DOD contractor companies that build such devices also have jobs waiting for senior decision makers when they hang up their uniforms and retire. The Army has also have done away with the main pathfinder school. Now the Marine Commandant, a former Force Recon Marine with wings of gold and bubblehead, has made a decision to remove the beloved and fabled scout sniper platoons from the Marine Infantry Battalions and shutter the Scout Sniper School. It seems that he and others, have learned nothing in the last 20 years. However, 26 man scout platoons vs. 18 man scout sniper platoons is going up in end strength and not down? Earlier in General Bergers tenure, the Marine Infantry asked for a larger Scout Sniper Platoon to go to 24 snipers, up from 18 at Marine Infantry Battalion Level. His reply was no and stated that doctinally, the Marine Corps only needed six snipers at battalion level to complete the mission. I am sure that General Berger will have a very nice DOD contractor or think tank position to go to when he retires. I suspect many of the changes in the future U.S.M.C here have more to do with getting a those well paying DOD contractor gigs for senior military staff than real modernization of capabilities. (President Eisenhower warned us against the Military Industrial Establishment.) I maintain that the people who have the best battalion level intelligence capabilities are the Canadians. They have a Battalion Scout and Sniper Detachment that is really a small company of just shy of 60 soldiers. This includes 18 snipers and 24 plus scouts. The British Army learned and the now have 18 man platoons with two 8 man sections at infantry battalion leve. The Marine Corps was short of the proper tooth to tail ratio to begin with for sustained combat. The Marine Commandant has reduced these logistical capabilities even further. General Berger has not prepared the U.S.M.C. for wars of the future. He has gutted capabilities that will take decades to rebuild and regain. Good riddance to him when he retires in July. He and “Mad Dog” Mattis have proven to be two of the most overrated generals the U.S.M.C. ever produced.

    • Retired Solider says:

      I forgot to mention the older SS Runes Simbol Schutzstaffel that doubled for Scout Sniper business and that is very obviously of very dubious taste. This is another reason to rid the Scout Sniper capabilities for politically “Woke” reasons under the Brandon Administration. In 2012 the forllowing was released: A Marines scout sniper team in Afghanistan posed for a photograph with the Nazi SS symbol, the U.S. Marine Corps confirmed Thursday – calling it unacceptable. “Certainly, the use of the ‘SS runes’ is not acceptable and Scout Snipers have been addressed concerning this issue,” Capt Brian Block said in a statement dated from Feb 9, 2012. Make no mistake, Berger is as “Woke” as is “Throughly Modern” Milley, and that other Biden appointed “Woke” fellow traveller – SECDEF, Lloyd Austin. They will replace Scout Sniper, “SS” with “Recon Sniper”. They have scaraficed serious capabilities for political puproses. The other issue I have is what does and entire Divisional Recon Battalion do? I though each one of the line “Recon Platoons” were available for direct support to Divisions and Regiments. The Force Recon Platoon handled the “Deep Recon” mission and supported the Diviisional Commander? What does Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children do with an entire battalion of such people? In 2003 in the very questionble Iraqi invsion, they used them as a CAV Squadron as would be used in the Army for spearheading a forward movement into enemy territory.