By Henry Rodriguez.
Before heading out on any deployment, Marine Corps units are required to conduct a pre-deployment training cycle. What this cycle looks like varies greatly depending on the unit, mission, and requirements. For Marine Raiders with Marine Forces Special Operations Command, it includes both individual and unit-level training. Part of that unit-level training is the exercise known as Exercise Raven.
Exercise Raven is a company level unit readiness exercise, designed to evaluate Marine Special Operations Companies and their teams. MSOCs are tested and evaluated on a vast number of potentialities that they could see in a deployed theater.
“Through Raven, the company is able to establish connection points and refine processes that enhance our effectiveness,” said a U.S. Marine critical skills operator.
In addition to honing in on the attributes and capabilities within the teams and companies, other units are integrated to improve the MSOC’s ability to be a connecting force beyond its own structure. Past iterations have collaborated with foreign partners, units from the Fleet Marine Force, Marine Forces Reserve, and members of the joint force.
Recently, Marines with 4th Marine Division, British Commandos, and French soldiers with 6th Light Armoured Brigade worked side by side in a simulated combat theater conducting operations in tandem with one another to achieve a collective goal.
Marines from the MSOC trained to coordinate with a Special Operations Task Force to handle the moving pieces of internal and external forces operating in conjunction with one another, much as they would on an actual deployment.
“Working with our conventional forces and foreign partners just increases our ability to integrate while deployed,” said a critical skills operator. “And them being here just shows their commitment to strengthening that relationship.”
During the exercise, a single MSOC will be given an ever-evolving problem set in which they must effectively utilize their assets and work with partners to solve. As they begin to work through the situation and begin actions on targets, the battlespace and problem set changes, and leaders within the teams and company need to be able to improvise and adjust. The issues that arise are designed to require the company to leverage and utilize all of MARSOC’s capabilities.
The entire time this plays out, members of the exercise control monitor and evaluate the companies to give live feedback to those leaders and better prepare them for their upcoming deployment. In addition, evaluators from the various partner force units attend to observe their training and increase interoperability with MARSOC.
“Being able to evaluate our guys while working with MARSOC and exchanging best practices is great,” said a British Commando and evaluator who recently attended Ex. Raven. “I think there is a lot of benefit to working together.”
Exercise Raven gives live feedback up and down the echelons of command. From the individual critical skills operator to the company commander, every member of the company has something to gain from the training and evaluations provided by Ex. Raven as they prepare to step out and travel overseas for deployment.
This story by Cpl Henry Rodriguez II of MARSOC was first published on August 1, 2023 by the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service. DVIDS content is in the public domain.
Photo: U.S. Marines with 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, Marine Forces Reserve, conduct a direct action raid under the supervision and training of Marine Raiders with Marine Forces Special Operations Command during Exercise Raven, a unit readiness exercise, May 25, 2023. Exercise Raven is a training exercise held to evaluate all aspects of a Marine Special Operations Company prior to a special operations deployment. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Henry Rodriguez)