United States Marine Corps Reconnaissance Battalions

Not to be confused with Force Reconnaissance.
Marine Division Reconnaissance

Division Recon badge
Active 1944–present
Country  United States
Branch United States Marine Corps
Type Special Operation Capable
Role Support Ground Combat Element of MAGTF in ground and amphibious reconnaissance
Size 2000

Camp Pendleton, CA

Camp Lejeune, NC

Camp Schwab, Okinawa
Motto(s) "Swift, Silent, Deadly"
Colors Black & Gold
Engagements World War II
Korean War
Vietnam War
Gulf War
Kosovo War
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Operation Enduring Freedom

The United States Marine Corps Reconnaissance Battalions (or commonly called Marine Division Recon) are the Special Operations Capable reconnaissance assets of Marine Air-Ground Task Force that provide division-level ground and amphibious reconnaissance to the Ground Combat Element within the United States Marine Corps. Division reconnaissance teams are employed to observe and report on enemy activity and other information of military significance in close operations. Their capabilities are similar to those of Force Recon, but do not normally insert by parachute, and provide limited direct action.[1] The Military Occupational Specialty code for Reconnaissance Man is 0321.


USMC Combat Diver Badge.
United States Navy Parachutist Badge.

Reconnaissance forces are a valuable asset to the Marine Air-Ground Task Force when the MEF Commander is faced with uncertainty in the battlefield. Reconnaissance provides timely intelligence to command and control for battlespace shaping, allowing the MAGTF to act, and react, to changes in the battlefield.[2] While Marine reconnaissance assets may operate in specialized missions, they are unlike the unconventional SOCOM's forces counterparts. Both division and force are solely reserved for supporting the infantry, which are directly involved in the commander's force of action in the battlefield, or battlespace shaping.[3]

Many of the types of reconnaissance missions that are conducted by Marine Recon units are characterized by its degree in depth of penetration. This greatly increases the mission time, risk, and support coordination needs. Division reconnaissance are in charge of the commander's Area of Influence, the close and distant battlespace; the force reconnaissance platoons are employed farther in the deep battlespace, or the Area of Interest.

These are the main missions that are outlined to some, or all of, the reconnaissance assets in the Marine Corps:


Logo Name Parent Division Location
1st Reconnaissance Battalion
1st Marine Division
Camp Pendleton, California
2nd Reconnaissance Battalion
2nd Marine Division
Camp Lejeune, North Carolina
3rd Reconnaissance Battalion
3rd Marine Division
Camp Schwab, Okinawa, Japan
4th Reconnaissance Battalion
4th Marine Division
Marine Forces Reserve
San Antonio, Texas

Deep Reconnaissance Platoons

Deep Reconnaissance Platoons, or DRPs, are units within Recon Battalions that carry out the role of Force Reconnaissance. The first DRPs were formed in March 1975 after the conclusion of American involvement in the Vietnam War, when the Marine Corps was downsized; Force Recon was reduced to a single regular company. Both 1st and 3d Battalion received a 23-man Deep Reconnaissance Platoon.[4] DRPs gained additional importance in 2006, when all active-duty Force Recon companies were transferred to Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command and became Marine Special Operations Battalions. Force Recon Marines not in an MSOB became part of the DRPs, which were placed in the Delta Companies of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Recon Battalions.[5] thumbnail

Standard Recon Platoon

The standard recon platoon in a Recon Battalion consists of:

Platoon Commander: First Lieutenant or Captain

Platoon Sergeant: Gunnery Sergeant

Field Radio Operator: Corporal or Sergeant

Special Equipment NCO: Sergeant

Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Corpsman (SARC): First, Second, or Third Class Petty Officer

Recon Teams x3

Team Leader: Staff Sergeant or Sergeant
Assistant Team Leader: Sergeant or Corporal
Radio Operator: Sergeant or Corporal
Assistant Radio Operator: Corporal or Lance Corporal
Point Man: Corporal or Lance Corporal
Slackman: Corporal or Lance Corporal.
Reconnaissance Training Company logo


Table of equipment

All amphibious recon Marines [Force and Division] and Corpsmen [IDC Corpsmen and SARC] are provided general issued equipment, these are the weapons that are generally used by both MAGTF Recon assets. These weapons are generally used by most other Marines in the infantry, except with minor modifications. Although Force Recon units receive the same equipment as their division recon counterparts, they also have equipment similar to that issued to comparable USSOCOM units. Force Recon are assigned to missions remote from any available fire support and fully rely on specialized weapons that are versatile enough to be flexible in the commander's area of interest.


Combat and protective gear

The combative and protective gear are used by both recon assets of MAFTF. However, again, there are 'additional' equipment in the Force Recon's T/E to meet their assignments in deep operations and/or direct action missions. And to include FORECON's necessary equipment that are capable of being jumped out of aircraft; and long-range communications due to their operability at greater distances than Division Recon geographically-assigned boundaries.

Marines wearing the full combat gear

Special equipment

Recon Marines training with the Draeger MK 25 rebreather.
For weapons used by Force Reconnaissance operators, see Force Reconnaissance § Equipment.

Most of the recon patrols or insertions are either in maritime, amphibious environments or on the ground. They have to rely on equipment that is essential to their mission. Both recon assets contain a Table of Equipment (T/E) that has combatant diving equipment. A Marine within a recon platoon will be assigned as the "Special Equipment NCO", fully responsible for the procurement and maintenance of the equipment when operating in the field.

Force Recon's Parachute Loft, or Paraloft section has in addition to their "mission-essential" equipment, the Parachutist Individual Equipment Kit (PIEK) and Single Action Release Personal Equipment Lowering Equipment (SARPELS) for their parachute capabilities.

Combatant diving

The SCUBA equipment listed under the T/E set by the US Navy for the Marine Corps reconnaissance:


Not to be confused with FMF Amphib Reconnaissance Company.

The Marine Corps's division-level reconnaissance was first conceived in 1941 by Lieutenant Colonel William J. Whaling. He needed a group of specialized scouts and skilled marksmen to form a "Scout and Sniper Company". Two of the newly established Marine divisions, 1st and 2nd Marine Division contained their own scout company. Larger infantry regiments called for more recon, scouts and sniper assets. By 1945, the divisions had instituted and organized their own scout-sniper, light armored reconnaissance (LAR), and division reconnaissance assets.

As a result of MCO 5401.5, dated 24 August 1952, the USMC Force Restructure and Implementation Plan, the Marine Corps shrunk its forces and as a result reconnaissance battalions were eliminated and reconnaissance companies became a part of infantry regiments.



Realizing it is my choice and my choice alone to be a Reconnaissance Marine, I accept all challenges involved with this profession. Forever shall I strive to maintain the tremendous reputation of those who went before me.

Exceeding beyond the limitations set down by others shall be my goal. Sacrificing personal comforts and dedicating myself to the completion of the reconnaissance mission shall be my life. Physical fitness, mental attitude, and high ethics—The title of Recon Marine is my honor.

Conquering all obstacles, both large and small, I shall never quit. To quit, to surrender, to give up is to fail. To be a Recon Marine is to surpass failure; To overcome, to adapt and to do whatever it takes to complete the mission.

On the battlefield, as in all areas of life, I shall stand tall above the competition. Through professional pride, integrity, and teamwork, I shall be the example for all Marines to emulate.

Never shall I forget the principles I accepted to become a Recon Marine. Honor, Perseverance, Spirit and Heart.

A Recon Marine can speak without saying a word and achieve what others can only imagine.

"Swift, Silent, Deadly"

See also


  1. Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication 1-0, Marine Corps Operations, (Wash., DC: HQMC, 2001)
  2. FM 7–92, The Infantry Reconnaissance Platoon and Squad (Airborne, Air Assault, Light Infantry)
  3. MCRP 2-1C, Marine Air-Ground Task Force Intelligence Dissemination
  4. Melson, Charles D.; Paul Hannon; Lee Johnson (1994). Marine Recon 1940–90. Osprey Publishing. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-85532-391-9.
  5. "Letter from your "Executive Director"" (PDF). SITREP. Force Recon Association. 19 (1). January 2008.
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