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SEMPER FI: Every Marine A Rifleman? Eh, Maybe Not…

The Few. The Proud. The unarmed?

With the revamping of the US military, the longstanding USMC axiom of ‘Every Marine A Rifleman’ may be tossed in the trash heap of history.

In a bid to get more military recruits familiar with high-tech, the previously dismissed idea of ‘lateral entry’ of civilians with the desirable skills to move directly into mid-career rank skipping boot camp.

This isn’t the first time this idea has been floated.

Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter shocked the military last summer when he called for boosting the military’s high-tech force by finding civilians who already have those vital skills like cyber security and offer them “lateral entry” into the military — a chance to skip boot camp and put on a uniform as a mid-career rank from Day One.

In effect, he suggested having a Marine Corps that included “Marines,” pinned with a staff sergeant’s rocker, who had never been to boot camp and spent no time in the junior tanks. Marines scattered across the force who had little knowledge of Marine culture and whose colleagues quietly questioned their status as a “real Marine.”

Nobody in the military was more skeptical than the Marines.

And the Marines remain skeptical.

They do allow lateral entry for top musicians into the “Presidents’ Own” Band, but the Corps isn’t too keen on extending that to cyber-expertise.

But the Marine Corps leaders are treading lightly on the idea of expanding that for skills like cyber. The Corps is more skeptical than the other services about many aspects of Carter’s “Force of the Future” reforms. The Marines truly believe their motto of “Every Marine is a rifleman,” and believe that has been the service’s unique strength throughout its storied history.

The top generals and manpower experts want to be realistic about the fact that the more lateral entry they consider, the less honest that will make the axiom of: “Every Marine is a rifleman.”

“If you go away from that, then I think you lose something that has made the Marine Corps what it is,” said retired Marine Lt. Col. Dakota Wood, who served on President Trump’s transition team.

“A Marine is a Marine,” Wood said. “If that breaks down, you’ve got problems.”

As the Marines look to fill large gaps in their ‘cyber’ skills, the need may eclipse the ideal.

The skills needed include fields like intelligence, communications and information technology.

And right now, the jobs are going unfilled.

In many of those job fields, the Corps is already undermanned. As of December, the Marine Corps was short about 800 enlisted Marines trained in cyber operations; more than 250 enlisted troops who specialize in counter-intelligence and human intelligence; and more than 100 image analysts — or close to 25 percent of the target force of nearly 500 — according to data provided by Manpower and Reserve Affairs.
Read more: Marine Corps Times

The future of military combat is changing.

Technology has changed, and the military must change with it.

But is this the right course of action?

What do YOU think?

Let us know in the comments.

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