Even Marine Raiders are feeling the impact of COVID-19 as the elite special operations unit headquartered in state under a stay-at-home order is being forced to adjust training to comply with state, defense and federal health guidelines.
The Marine Raider Training Center aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, is home to the seven-month Marine commando special operator school known as the Individual Training Course, which creates Critical Skill Operators who earn the 0372 military occupational specialty.
While COVID-19 continues to rampage across the U.S., North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper issued a stay-at-home order to stem the spread of the virus. According to the New York Times, there are 1,582 reported cases of COVID-19 across North Carolina.
To comply with the governor’s order, Marine Forces Special Operations Command says it has made adjustments to training to include restructuring the ITC course and adding online training where possible.
“The ITC schedule has been restructured to ensure the safety and health of the two classes currently undergoing training. Some of the in-class material has been shifted to online learning, to include parts of the Basic Language Course,” Gunnery Sgt. Lynn Kinney, told Marine Corps Times in an emailed statement.
The ITC course is a seven-month training evolution broken down into several phases that includes land navigation, patrolling, small unit tactics, irregular warfare and close quarters battle.
MARSOC did not provide any other details regarding the restructuring of the ITC course.
“Other parts of the training have been shifted to ensure COVID-19 response requirements,” Kinney said.
Raiders also attend a 125-training-day language course which kicks off following completion of the ITC. The language training familiarizes Raiders with basic foreign language skills in speaking, listening and reading.
Marine Forces Special Operations Command says it will continue to man, equip and train the force but the elite commando unit is also making adjustments to protect the force and comply with health guidelines.
“As such, we will continue to execute mission-essential tasks and pre-deployment training certification exercises while taking additional precautions to prevent or limit the spread of the virus, including reduced staffing, telework, and the utilization of virtual means to conduct meetings and training,” Kinney said.
“Force generating and MOS producing courses, such as the Individual Training Course, will continue with modified schedules,” she explained.
In a posting to Facebook, MARSOC said it expected staff to “telework to the maximum extent possible.”
“MARSOC personnel are directed to cease all non-essential movement and shelter-in-place in accordance with the NC Governor’s Executive Order, when not performing official duties,” MARSOC said in a Facebook post on March 29.
The Raider training center aboard Lejeune is also tasked with assessment and selection of potential 0372 Raider candidates for follow-on training at ITC.
“MARSOC is making adjustments to training and other daily operations to effectively preserve and balance the health and safety of our personnel with our responsibility to maintain operational readiness,” Kinney said.
“The health and welfare of our personnel is a top priority,” she said.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.