Marines Offer Big Bonuses to Leathernecks Who Can Help Deceive the Enemy

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A Marine speaks to a village elder in Afghanistan. The Corps is looking for Marines to help build up a new psychological operations military occupational specialty. (Cpl. Skyler Tooker/U.S. Marine Corps)
A Marine speaks to a village elder in Afghanistan. The Corps is looking for Marines to help build up a new psychological operations military occupational specialty. (Cpl. Skyler Tooker/U.S. Marine Corps)

As the Corps continues to build its new psychological operations community, it's offering big bonuses to Marines willing to make the career switch.

The Marine Corps is calling for qualified lance corporals, corporals or sergeants who can help influence foreign actors' emotions, motives and behavior to consider a career in psychological operations.

The service first announced last year that it would be creating the new 0521 psychological operations military occupational specialty, and leaders are working to fill about 200 jobs by 2025, Maj. Sharon Hyland Sisbarro, a spokeswoman for the deputy commandant for information, said.

"The Marine Corps' ability to influence foreign target audiences is a critical function for conducting Operations in the Information Environment," she said.

Related: Marines to Get New Psychological Operations MOS as Community Grows

There are currently 65 Marines in the MOS now, and there are 20 spots available for Marines to move into the field in 2020, Sisbarro said.

Lance corporals, corporals and sergeants could be eligible for a bonus of up to $35,000 if they make a lateral career move into the field. And those who agree to a 72-month contract could qualify for an extra $40,000 as part of a lateral-move initiative, said Maj. Craig Thomas, a spokesman for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.

PsyOp Marines conduct Military Information Support Operations, or MISO, provide civil authorities information support, and support military deception, Sisbarro said. They convey certain information to foreign organizations, groups or individuals to get them to act "in a manner favorable to the Commander's objectives," a Marine administrative message states.

Military deception "targets enemy decisionmakers by targeting their intelligence collection, analysis, and dissemination systems," a Marine Corps information operations memo states. Marines need a thorough knowledge of adversaries and their decision-making processes to pull off the efforts, which are designed not simply to mislead, but to achieve a specific outcome.

"The goal," the memo states, "is to cause the adversary to fail to employ combat or support units to their best advantage."

Marines interested in making the switch to psychological operations must meet a host of requirements to qualify for the MOS. They must be worldwide deployable and need to complete all physical and academic requirements before attending a four-day screening assessment.

In addition to completing the standard physical and combat fitness tests, PsyOp Marines must also complete a 5-mile run in less than 45 minutes and maintain a 15-minute per mile pace during a ruck march of 8 miles or less. During the ruck march, Marines will have to carry at least 35 pounds -- water not included.

Marines also must also show their ability to communicate clearly and think critically during academic events.

Screenings for the new MOS start in Virginia, California and North Carolina in early 2020. Additional screenings will be held in Hawaii and Japan starting in April.

Those interested in making the switch should contact their career planners to be sure they meet the requirements for the lateral move, Marine administrative message 690/19 states.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

Read More: Marines in These In-Demand Fields Can Take Home Big Bonuses in 2020

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