Marine Corps plan calls for some future Marines to skip boot camp

Marine Corps plan calls for some future Marines to skip boot camp

We Make Marines,” proclaims a banner at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, summarizing the service’s ethos that recruits have to prove they have the mental and physical toughness to serve in the Corps by surviving boot camp. By the time men and women receive their Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, they have proven that they have the physical and mental toughness to earn the coveted title of “Marine.”

But Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger wants “exceptionally talented Americans” to be able to bypass the Corps’ traditional rites of passage and begin serving “at a rank appropriate to their education, experience, and ability.”

Berger’s radical new Talent Management plan calls for allowing civilians with critical skills to be able to join the Marine Corps “laterally” as opposed to starting at the very bottom as new recruits.

“As a result of the significant lead time necessary to build expertise, we are unable to respond quickly to changes in the security environment that demand urgent course corrections,” Berger wrote in his plan, which was first made public on Nov. 3. “The rapid rise in importance of the cyber domain, for instance, has challenged us to find creative ways to quickly build critical skills at mid-career and senior levels. Unless we find a means to quickly infuse expertise into the force – at the right ranks – I am concerned that advances in artificial intelligence and robotics, among other fields where the speed of technological change is exponential, will force us into a reactive posture.”

Berger made clear that this option would be limited to certain military occupational specialties, adding it would be “difficult to imagine a scenario” in which a civilian could skip boot camp in order to join a combat arms field like infantry or artillery.

He also wrote that Marines no longer on active duty who now have “critical career experience” should be able to return to service at a higher rank.

“For example, I can envision a Marine who left active duty as a captain or corporal rejoining our ranks as a lieutenant colonel or gunnery sergeant, respectively, after spending 5-7 years working in a cyber or IT field where the service currently lacks capacity,” Berger wrote. “With the right education and experience, that same corporal might also be eligible to return as a mid-grade or senior officer.”

The new talent management plan could involve a “cultural shift” in how the Marine Corps attracts the best possible people, said Lt. Gen. David Ottignon, deputy commandant for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.

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