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Saturday, February 12, 2011

News about MARSOC/Stone Bay

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Commandant considers MARSOC MOS

Corps may create special operations career path
By Gina Cavallaro - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Feb 7, 2011 5:45:31 EST

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — Marines who would like to forge a career as a MARSOC special operator may soon have their wish granted.
Commandant Gen. Jim Amos is now considering a plan that could create a permanent career path, rather than forcing Marines to rotate back to the regular force after five years. Amos, who met with Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command leaders here Jan. 18, discussed the MOS and his intent to increase the number of operators and support personnel assigned to MARSOC, according to Marines who attended the meeting.
The plan calls for creation of a primary MOS in which operators can compete for promotion over the course of a career with MARSOC. Currently, Marines are assigned to MARSOC only for five-year tours.
“We think this is an important part of our continued growth in terms of capacity and the ability to attract and keep well-qualified and competent Marines, offering them a clear career path with growth … and opportunities for promotion,” said MARSOC spokesman Maj. Jeffrey Landis, confirming that a plan to make the job a career path was presented to Amos during his visit to the command’s Stone Bay headquarters here.
Details of the plan are being worked out with Manpower and Reserve Affairs at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Landis said. He declined to offer any specifics or timelines for implementation because MARSOC leaders have not yet received a response.
Known as critical skills operators, Marines trained to perform special operations missions abroad are assigned to MARSOC, but they compete for promotion in the primary MOS they retain as operators. Most are from the reconnaissance community, whose Marines formed the bulk of MARSOC’s manning requirements when the command stood up in February 2006.
Now, as the command’s five-year anniversary approaches, many Marines assigned to MARSOC for the initial five-year rotation are wondering whether they will have to return to the fleet. They maintain that a special operations organization can work and mature only if the time and money invested in training highly skilled teams of operators is kept within the ranks, built upon with gained expertise and taught to future operators.
Soldiers in Special Forces units and sailors who become SEALs can stay in their career fields and compete for promotion, with the added advantage that their long-term relationships form a deep brain trust over time and build on lessons learned to help units operate more effectively.
“You’d never really be a special ops unit if you just had new guys coming in all the time,” said one MARSOC operator who preferred to remain anonymous.
It’s not the first time that MARSOC’s operators have been on the brink of seeing their jobs codified as a primary MOS. Retired Maj. Gen. Mastin Robeson, upon relinquishing command of MARSOC to Maj. Gen. Paul Lefebvre in November 2009, told Marine Corps Times that the establishment of an MOS was imminent, but it never moved forward.
The intent behind the five-year rotations was to return specially trained Marines to units that could benefit from their experiences and knowledge, and MARSOC was established at a time when the Defense Department was calling for a boost in the capabilities of special operations forces.
Opponents to the creation of MARSOC argued that the Corps didn’t need an “elite force within an elite force,” which was much the same argument made when recon Marines got their own MOS about 10 years ago.
Amos, a self-described “big fan” of MARSOC, addressed the issue in September during his Senate confirmation hearing, saying the Corps was “evaluating multiple options to ensure an efficient return on investment” to the Marine Corps and to Special Operations Command, MARSOC’s parent organization.
Options being evaluated, he said in his answers to advance questions from the Senate panel, included extended assignments beyond five years and a primary MOS.
MARSOC’s current end strength is about 2,200 and climbing toward the manning authorization of close to 2,700, a goal the command is hoping to reach by 2014.
Eligibility to become an operator was expanded in November 2008 when the job was made available to all MOSs instead of just combat arms. That expansion, coupled with the formalization of a recruiting mechanism to screen potential applicants has increased the number of candidates MARSOC has to choose from.
Amos said he wants to increase the size of MARSOC by bringing in more support personnel and training more operators. A primary MOS for operators would help ensure the number of instructors remains constant at the schoolhouse and in the pre-assessment and selection preparatory course, while the operational teams are properly manned for deployments.

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