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Special Operations Training Group

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Title: Special Operations Training Group  
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Subject: United States Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance, Marine Expeditionary Force, Special Operations Capable
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Special Operations Training Group

The Special Operations Training Group, or SOTG, is a training section of the United States Marine Corps that provides Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) commanders with training facilities and a liaison for Marine Expeditionary Units (MEU). They also conduct special skills courses that trains Marines and Sailors, and other cross-services as well. They participate in the MEUs' Special Operations Capable Certification, by acting as the "Training and Evaluation Board" for the exercises and events during the MEU annual training cycles. The SOTG maintains training facilities at Stone Bay, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.[1]


The SOTG curriculum contains many courses of instruction for Marines, Sailors, and other service personnel in methods and procedures of skills that are required to perform special operations.

  • Scout Swimmer Course — Teaches the difficulties of maneuvering without detection while operating under clandestine insertion by combat swimming. The students learn to operate with rubber boats, the fundamentals of diving, and amphibious reconnaissance techniques.
  • Applied Explosives Course — This course outlines the discussion of the different compositions and theory of explosives and tamping methods.
  • Dynamic Entry Course — Students are taught different methods of explosive breaching. They must have already completed the "Applied Explosives Course".
  • Urban Reconnaissance & Surveillance — A course designed to train personnel from FMF and division reconnaissance, Scout Sniper Platoons, Radio Battalions and Radio Reconnaissance Platoons, and company intelligence (S-2) detachments in the conduct of urbanized reconnaissance and surveillance (R&S). The course will cover at a minimum, an introduction to R&S, intelligence considerations, R&S planning, urban route planning and movements, introduction to direct action (DA) operations, evasion-and-escape techniques, surveillance/counter-surveillance techniques and equipment, and urban communication procedures. Training will focus on reconnaissance in support of special operations and conventional missions with specific emphasis on urban operations. This course provides an outstanding opportunity to integrate with the Amphibious Squadron's (PHIBRON) Naval Special Warfare Detachment (NAVSPECWAR Det.)
  • Urban Sniper Course — Same as above. This course trains snipers in target, surveillance and acquisition while conducting operations in urbanized areas. It lists discussions in advantages and disadvantages of the built-up environment, to include course of instructions in countersniper techniques.
  • Assault Climbers Course — There is a 4-day, 2-part course that provides tactical climbing skills to negotiate high-risk, non-permissive environments. It encompasses the skills of abseiling in different types of terrain; wilderness, rural, and urban, by climbing various vertical obstacles (i.e. cliff sights, rock slabs, quarries, buildings, bridges, dwellings, and other man-made facilities) that are listed in the training curriculum. Students gain skills in planning, preparing, conducting, supervising, and leading all facets of tactical climbing operations. In addition, students gain the qualifications to provide related instructions to other personnel in assault climbing in the environments mentioned. There is also a 5 week, 3 phase course that consists of mountaineering skills, mountain physical endurance training, multi-pitch climbs, lead climbs, belaying, rope installations, knots, rappelling, steep earth climbing, and all the necessary knowledge associated with it. It is much more in depth than the 4 day course.
  • Basic/Advanced Coxswain Skills Course — In this course, students learn how to maintain and operate Combat Rubber Reconnaissance Crafts (CRRC) and lead boat teams of Marines during amphibious missions. It outlines training of coxswains for safe insertions of a raid force from ship-to-shore movements. The students train on the fundamentals of nautical navigation, such as plotting points on a nautical chart and tying various knots used to secure lose objects to the craft. Also, students learn to identify and repair outboard motor discrepancies. Students scoring a minimum of 80% on a test at the end of the course earn the additional job description of MOS 8111, "Combat Rubber Reconnaissance Craft Coxswain".
  • Dynamic Assault Course — This course is initially designed for enhancing close quarters combat (CQC) skills. Students learn and apply CQC in a low-light environments. It also emphasizes on advanced surgical and precision shooting with the M4 carbine and M1911A1 .45 caliber pistol. Students learned to quickly switch from one weapon to the other during failure drills. They are also introduced to a close quarters battle environment. They were instructed on how to systematically clear a room and navigate through buildings as a team. Participants learn to quickly identify and deal with improvised explosive devices, adversaries and individuals of unknown intent, referred to as unknowns, within the confined spaces of the "Shooting House".
  • Security Element Training Course — This course is designed for the Security Element of a Maritime Special Purpose Force, a platoon sized force. It develops the skills necessary for the force to function in support of the Assault Element. The training of this platoon will include limited Close Quarters Battle (CQB) skills, internal security procedures, hostage handling procedures, and other capabilities required to support the assault element.
  • Boat Raid Course — The course familiarizes the students with the Combat Rubber Reconnaissance Craft in performing various raid and reconnaissance missions. The training also teaches courses of instructions on how to move from an maritime environments to dry land. Students are required to operate around obstacles in the aquatic course.
  • Helicopter Rope Suspension Training (HRST) Masters Course — Teaches students on how to rig CH-46E Sea Knights, CH-53 Sea Stallions, and UH-1N Twin Hueys for fast-roping, special purpose insertion/extraction (SPIE), and abseiling. Students must familiarize with knots and rigging systems (11 in all). Upon mastery of these subjects, students put their new skills to use on towers, and are given a written test to complete.
  • Long Range (Over-the-Horizon) Maritime Navigation Course — This course teaches the courses of instruction and capabilities of a raid force to remain undetected or unidentified for a sufficient period of time necessary to achieve tactical surprise. Students learn how to operate the Combat Rubber Recon Craft in navigable waters.
  • Deep Infiltration and Extraction Team (DIET) Course — This course teaches students to make small air/ground units under the SPMAGTF. Only students qualified in (HRST), (CQC), (SPIE), Urban Sniper and masterful command of aircraft and navigation may qualify.
  • Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and/or Personnel (TRAP) Course — Course teaches students in the fundamentals of helicopter and subsurface insertions for the recovery of aircraft equipment and personnel, or other sensitive material that is of interest for retrieval.
  • Non-Lethal Weapons Course — Students learns skills in utilizing their MCMAP skills in defense and offense of non-lethal weapons.

See also


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