Australian Light Armored Vehicles prepare for a joint exercise with New Zealand troops and U.S. Marines on June 24. Exchange billets are increasing in 2014, including an enlisted opportunity to work with Australian LAVs. (Cpl. Jonathan Wright / Marine Corps)
Exchange opportunities to serve with foreign forces or other branches of the U.S. military are expanding in fiscal year 2014.
Marines can now compete to fill one of 16 open billets with foreign militaries in Australia, Europe and South America or one of four billets with the U.S. Air Force or Navy, according to recently released details for the Fiscal 2014 Ground and Aviation Personnel and Inter-Service Exchange programs. Last year there were just nine billets to serve with foreign militaries. The number of opportunities to serve with other U.S. branches has held steady, but last year, all four were with the Air Force.
The PEP and ISE programs place officers and enlisted Marines on three-year assignments intended to “facilitate interoperability and the exchange of professional and tactical expertise,” according to Marine administrative message 174/13, signed April 1. Those assigned to English-speaking militaries will spend all three years overseas, while those assigned to foreign-language-speaking militaries will spend one year at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif., before heading overseas for two years.
About a third of the new billets are in Australia, reflecting the Marine Corps’ shift to the Pacific and the buildup in Darwin. The goal is to have a 2,500-strong Marine air-ground task force rotating through the country regularly within the next few years.
For the second year in a row, the exchange program includes enlisted billets. Last year, two infantry unit leader billets were open for gunnies to serve in Chile or the Netherlands. This year, four billets for gunnies include Light Armored Vehicle instructor or tank leader in Australia, and mountain-arctic instructor or physical training /recruit instructor in the United Kingdom.
Enlisted Marines can bolster their careers by earning the Foreign Area Staff Noncommissioned Officer or Regional Affairs Staff NCO designation through participation in the program. The FAS and RAS designations were unveiled in January 2012 as the enlisted equivalent to the Foreign Area Officer and Regional Area Officer designations, which are given to Marine officers with specialized knowledge of a particular country or region critical to U.S. interests.
To be eligible for the exchange programs, Marines must:
Be active duty.
Have a command endorsement.
Meet minimum time-on-station requirements.
Complete overseas and independent duty screenings.
Not be committed to another program.
Have a minimum Defense Language Aptitude Battery score of 95 if interested in serving with a foreign-language military.
Applications via an administrative action form are due by June 14. Selection panels convene in July.