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Maritime Special Purpose Force

The Maritime Special Purpose Force (MSPF) were specialized units that were part of Marine Expeditionary Units (Special Operations Capable) (MEU(SOC)).

Maritime Special Purpose Force - Role

The MSPF provided the MEU(SOC) with an organic special operations capability, with a focus on operations in the maritime environment. The roles of the MSPF included:

  • Direct Action
  • Deep Reconnaissance
  • Vessel Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS)
  • Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO)
  • Gas and Oil Platform (GOPLAT) interdiction and assault
  • Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel (TRAP)
  • Demolitions
  • support of other special operations forces

Maritime Special Purpose Force - Organization

A Maritime Special Purpose Force was drawn from elements within its parent Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU(SOC)) and could be rapidly tailored to a specific mission. A MSPF typically consisted of:
  • Command Element
    The command element of a MSPF was made up of:
    • Commander, MSPF Team(s)
    • Communications Detachment Team(s)
    • Human Exploitation Team (HET) Team(s)
    • Medical Section[1] Team(s)
    • Intelligence section from MEU(SOC)

  • Security Element
    The MSPF's security element typically comprised a rifle platoon from the Battalion Landing Team (BLT) and may have been augmented by Naval Special Warfare assets such as a SEAL platoon.

  • Assault Element
    The assault element of the Maritime Special Purpose Force consisted of a Force Recon Direct Action Platoon. Other elements, deployed as required, included additional sniper support, SIGINT / Electronic Warfare specialists (Radio Reconnaissance Platoon) and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams.

  • Reconnaissance and Surveillance Element
    The R/S element provided sniper and reconnaissance support for the assault element. It comprised Marines from the MEU's Battalion Recon Platoon, including a sniper team. Radio Reconnaissance Teams provide SIGINT support - listening in on enemy radio transmissions.


  • Support Element
    The MSPF's support element includeda Scout Sniper Platoon as well as communications, and Aviation Support. The support element typically consisted of :
    • a Team(s), Reconnaissance and Scout Sniper
    • Platoons.
    • b Team(s), Communications Det.
    • c Team(s), RadBn Det.
    • d Team(s), HET Det.
    • e Naval Special Warfare Training Unit (As required).
    • f Aviation Support Element.
Maritime Special Purpose Force (MSPF)
Members of the security element of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Unit'€™s Maritime Special Purpose Force (MSPF) pictured providing security during a training exercise.
DoD photo by LCpl. Kamran Sadaghiani (Released)

update - the MSPF is no longer an active formation. The concept, however, lives on with the Maritime Raid Force

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Marines with the Maritime Special Purpose Force fire a M240G machine gun
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