Marines Offer Fast Promotions to Reenlisting Corporals

U.S. Marines promoted to the rank of Corporal aboard the USS Fort McHenry.
U.S. Marines with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit stand at attention as they are promoted to the rank of Corporal during a ceremony aboard the Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry. (U.S. Marine photo by Lance Cpl. Antonio Garcia)

The Marine Corps is continuing its revamp of its personnel policies with a new initiative that offers quick promotions to sergeant for its "highest-quality corporals," according to a press release from the service.

The Marines say that this new program, dubbed the "Small-Unit Leader Initiative," is being rolled out not only to capitalize on the "recent retention campaign success" but to continue the push to remake the Corps into an older and more mature force.

According to a forthcoming administrative memo, the program will be open to Marines at the rank of corporal who have served for at least three years, have a recommendation from the first lieutenant colonel commander in their chain of command, and are otherwise eligible to be promoted. They also must have reenlisted.

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Once a Marine meets all those requirements, they are immediately eligible for a promotion under the new program.

Col. Eric Reid, a staffer in the Marines' manpower office, said in the press release that this new initiative will "enable us to better resource our fighting formations by promoting those corporals who demonstrated the maturity to perform as small unit leaders."

This program is yet another in the several that the branch has announced since Gen. David Berger, the Corps' top leader, announced he would be modernizing its human resources system. In remaking the 35-year-old apparatus, Berger said his aim was to treat Marines "like human beings instead of inventory."

As part of this effort, Berger also noted that the Corps, which historically let around 75% of first-tour Marines leave the service, would shift to a "retain and invest" model.

Other changes have included allowing Marines to reenlist earlier, to serve in one location longer or to take an intermission from service.

On the whole, the service says the policies are working. In March, Maj. Gen. James Glynn, the deputy commandant who oversees manpower and reserve affairs, told reporters that the service has met its yearly retention goals very early -- that month.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether the Corps will struggle to recruit the number of people it needs.

Last year, the service, like every other branch in the military, struggled and ended up making its enlisted recruiting goal by just eight Marines. It did that, in part, by dipping into its pool of delayed-entry applicants -- a move that will also make this year's targets harder to meet.

On April 19, while testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, Assistant Commandant Gen. Eric Smith said the Corps expects to meet its recruiting goals this year, while all the other branches predict shortfalls.

-- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.

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