Building MARSOC: Infrastructure for SOCOM’s New Players
For years, Special Operations forces were the unloved stepchildren of the American military community, owned but not understood very well, or given priority. After the failed Desert One raid to free American hostages in Iran, however, the need to do better became apparent. Eventually real changes were made, and US Special Operations Command (US SOCOM) stood up as its own independent command with contributions from the Army (“Green Berets”, 75th Ranger Regiment, civil affairs & psyops, helicopters), Navy (SEALs), and Air Force (Pararescue, specialty aircraft). As the events of September 11, 2001 made the nature of the current global war clear, SOCOM stepped into a leading role – first in Afghanistan, then in the war as a whole. Current plans call for a 33% increase in American special forces numbers by 2013. This will be a challenge given the limited pool of applicants who can make the grade, and the continued lure of higher-paying private sector jobs as security contractors.
Who was missing from this picture? The Marines. Why? Because to the Marines, every Marine is special. After all, what higher honor could there possibly be than to say you were a US Marine? None. Which is why the USMC had Force Recon personnel, and whole Marine Expeditionary Unit – Special Operations Capable formations. They had no special forces. Until November 2005, when the US Marines agreed to stand up MARSOC with 2,500 Marine special forces – even as they managed to remain true to their credo. MARSOC was formally established on February 24/06.
Of course, a service that has never had any special forces doesn’t really have any facilities for them. Then again, separate facilities pose a problem. To square this circle, the Marines are building the new facilities at Camp LeJeune and now at Camp Pendleton, right alongside their fellow Marines…
June 9/08: RQ Construction, Inc. in Bonsall, CA received a $54.5 million firm-fixed-price design-build construction contract for Marine Corps Special Operations Command Headquarters and support facilities at Camp Pendleton, CA. This contract contains options which, if exercised, will bring the total contract amount to $57.5 million.
The work to be performed includes one FY 2007 project (MARSOC Headquarters Building) and 4 FY 2008 projects (MARSOC supply warehouse, paraloft, academic facility, armory and motor-T). All together, RQ construction will put up 6 new structures comprising approximately 223,000 square feet, in order to support approximately 890 MARSOC marines to be stationed at Camp Pendleton with facilities for administrative/ headquarters, operational/ maintenance/ mission support, and training.
Work will be performed in San Diego County, CA, and is expected to be complete by Oct. 2010. This contract was competitively procured as a 2-phase design-build via the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Electronic solicitation website, with 10 proposals received in Phase I. Three offerors were selected to proceed to Phase II by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest in San Diego, CA (N62473-08-C-3533).
Sept 12/07: Whiting-Turner Contracting Company in Baltimore, Md. received a $134.4 million firm-fixed price contract for design and construction of a Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC) Complex at Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, N.C. The contract involves 34 new structures comprising nearly 1 million square feet, and covers 5 FY 2007 projects (MARSOC Headquarters, MARSOC Intel Facility, Maintenance Complex, Bachelor Enlisted Quarters, and Battalion Aid Station) and 6 FY 2008 projects (Supply/Deployment/Isolation Facility, Academic Instruction Facility, Special Operations Equipment Facility, Operational Support Facilities, MARSOC Training Facilities, and Fitness Center/Training Pool). The contract contains 3 options totaling $82.8 million, which may be exercised within 365 calendar days, bringing the total contract amount to $217.2 million.
Collectively, these projects will construct the necessary administrative, headquarters, operational, maintenance, mission support, training and housing facilities to support approximately 1,950 MARSOC Marines to be stationed at Stone Bay.
Work will be performed in Jacksonville, N.C., and is expected to be completed by October 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Naval Facilities Engineering Command e-solicitation website with 139 offers solicited, and 4 proposals received by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Mid-Atlantic in Norfolk, VA (N40085-07-C-1900).
- MARSOC official site
- Think you have what it takes to join MARSOC?
- SOCOM official site
- USMC(March 31/09) – The Saga of Raja. That’s Raja Bachra, MARSOC’s Moroccan-born chief instructor of Arabic and French linguistic studies.
- National Defense Magazine (February 2009) – Marine Special Operators Set Out to Prove Themselves
- US Special Operations Command (Nov 2/05) – Marine Corps to join Special Ops
- US DoD DefenseLINK (Nov 1/05) – Secretary of Defense Approves Marine Special Operations Command
- W. Thomas Smith at ReportingWar.com (Aug 16/05) – Marines, Navy SEALs forge new special operations team. See also his follow-up, Unconventional Marines, which describes MARSOC in more detail.