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Staff sergeant rank due to get culled

Apr. 19, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
A Marine moves a pallet of textbooks at a warehouse at the Washington Navy Yard in D.C. Many military occupational specialties, including warehouse clerk, are overloaded with staff sergeants.
A Marine moves a pallet of textbooks at a warehouse at the Washington Navy Yard in D.C. Many military occupational specialties, including warehouse clerk, are overloaded with staff sergeants. (Cpl. Jacob H. Harrer/Marine Corps)
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Marine Corps Times has obtained details of the upcoming Staff Sergeant Retention Board, which will be held for the first time this summer to cull hundreds of staff sergeants who were passed over twice for promotion and have served between 15 and 18 years.

In all, there are 2,200 twice-passed staff sergeants. About 1,000 of them meet years-of-service criteria to go before the board, although that number will fluctuate slightly prior to the board as some of them finally promote to gunnery sergeant.

Manpower planners said in December that, like the Selective Early Retirement Boards for lieutenant colonels and colonels, the Staff Sergeant Retention Board will select no more than 30 percent of those eligible to go before the board. Under the assumption that about 1,000 will go before the board, about 300 would be pushed out of uniform involuntarily.

The retention board was created to help the service hit manpower targets that will see the service reach a steady state of 174,000 by the end of 2017. At that level, the service has the need for just 14,800 staff sergeants, but currently has 16,600. That means there is an overage of about 1,800, according to the presentation.

When all is said and done, the board will have separated about 1.8 percent of the entire staff sergeant population. Overpopulated military occupational specialties, however, could see a higher percentage of E-6s cut. Jobs like 3051 warehouse clerk, for example, will likely have more than 6 percent of their total staff sergeant population eligible to go before the board.

The board follows a reversal of policy that until this year allowed Marines who made E-6 to remain in uniform through retirement, barring any career-ending digressions. The policy, once called part of the commandant’s effort to “keep faith with Marines” throughout the manpower drawdown, was reversed following the revocation of a similar practice for majors.

Both ranks proved stubbornly overpopulated, hindering the career advancement of more junior Marines and the service’s plans to draw down to 174,000 by the end of 2017.

Exact dates of the board are uncertain; however, an official PowerPoint presentation drafted by Manpower Plans and Policy Division and leaked via social media, says it will convene immediately following this year’s Gunnery Sergeant Selection Board set to convene April 23 for about eight weeks. The Staff Sergeant Retention Board should then convene sometime in late June. A MARADMIN with full details will be released 30 days prior, or sometime in late May.

Those denied further service by the board will have seven months left in uniform from the date they are notified via official correspondence. With notifications anticipated in mid- to late June, Marines tapped for separation by the board will have roughly until Jan. 31, 2015.

To soften the blow, the board is limited to staff sergeants who have served between 15 and 18 years, meaning all will be offered retirement benefits at a reduced rate calculated on base pay and years of service through the Temporary Early Retirement Authority program. For that reason, the boards still meet the commandant’s definition of keeping faith with Marines, which includes providing a retirement opportunity to all majors and staff sergeants, manpower officials told Marine Corps Times in December.

A full retirement for a staff sergeant who serves 20 years is about $20,000 per year. Under TERA, that becomes $17,300 for 18 years of service, $15,900 for 17 years of service, $14,500 for 16 years of service and $13,100 for 15 years of service.

The decision to begin targeting twice passed staff sergeants — and majors — was made because they were among the most bloated and stagnated ranks in the service. As the manpower drawdown got underway in 2013, staff sergeants were targeted by voluntary force shaping measures to lure them out of uniform with cash incentives including TERA, but not enough opted to leave the service, which frustrated junior enlisted Marines vying for a career in uniform. Some MOSs were even closed to promotion.

The following 12 military occupational specialties are among those highlighted by Manpower & Reserve Affairs as having more staff sergeants than are needed. The numbers won’t be final until the Gunnery Sergeant Selection Board has completed its work. The chart shows how many staff sergeants are forecasted for each MOS, and the number of staff sergeants who meet the requisites to go before the Staff Sergeant Retention Board this summer. Staff sergeants with 15 to 18 years of service who have been twice passed over for promotion may be targeted by the board.

Military occupational specialty Forecasted total population Forecasted eligible population
0111 Administrative specialist 758 27
0369 Infantry unit leader 1,274 41
0619 Telecommunications systems chief 257 13
0629 Radio chief 649 19
0681 Information security technician 132 20
1371 Combat engineer 201 10
2862 Electronics maintenance technician 463 16
3043 Supply administration & operations specialist 476 17
3051 Warehouse clerk 197 12
3381 Food service specialist 247 14
3529 Motor transport maintenance chief 456 12
3537 Motor transport operations chief 631 23

Manpower & Reserve Affairs

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