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Editorial: MARSOC should disclose its attrition rates

Jul. 21, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
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Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command has overhauled its 10-week fitness program designed to help would-be operators optimally prepare for the rigors of MARSOC’s assessment and selection process. It’s big on things like ruck-hiking, swimming and nutrition, and looks very promising for the command’s ongoing effort to see more Marines make it through the initial training pipeline.

That initiative dates back to 2010. At the time, 46 percent of applicants failed to complete A&S, prompting then-Commandant Gen. James Conway to saddle MARSOC with a directive: Cut the washout rate to 20 percent — but don’t lower standards. Conway wanted Marines arriving for A&S in peak physical fitness so they stood the absolute best chance of passing.

It was a smart strategy, and MARSOC’s ensuing efforts have made the process far more fair by demystifying what’s required physically in order to make the cut. However, the introduction now of a revised fitness program raises questions about exactly how much progress has been made in meeting Conway’s mandate to lower the A&S washout rate. MARSOC officials refuse to say, and that’s a real disservice to applicants and anyone considering whether to apply.

Qualifying for MARSOC is tough, and with good reason. Operators must possess the physical and mental strength to work in some of the most demanding assignments the military offers. It must be a challenge to meet and maintain such standards. MARSOC owes its applicants a fair chance to prepare, and that includes telling them the odds are decent that they might fail.

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