In yet another sign the Corps is nearing the end of the drawdown, officials selected a higher number of Marines than expected for promotion to gunnery sergeant.
A total of 2,057 staff sergeants Marines were approved for promotion to gunny approved for elevation, up from the 1,891 initially expected. It's the highest number of promotions to E-7 since the Corps began shedding thousands from its ranks following the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
More staff sergeants making gunny is good news for any career-minded Marine eyeing a career in uniform though. Every . After all, every newly promoted gunnery sergeant makes room for a fresh staff sergeant, sergeant or corporal and so on.
When officials with Manpower and Reserve Affairs released the gunnery sergeant promotion forecast in March, they cautioned that the number remained flexible. But several military occupational specialties saw big wins in the promotion list. The Corps will promote 173 infantry unit leaders; In terms of military occupation specialties, the big winners were infantry unit leaders with 173 selected for gunny; 115 administrative specialists with 115; 79 radio chiefs with 79; 78 motor transport operations chiefs with 78; and 77 supply administrations and operations chiefs with 77.
The numbers and the names of those selected were announced in Marine administrative message 281/15, released June 10.
-Explanation from M&RA here.
The drawdown put a squeeze on the Corps as well as individual Marines looking for advancement. From a wartime high of 202,100, the service was expected to shrink to 174,000. That figure has since changed, with top brass eyeing an end strength of at least 182,000 Marines by the end of 2017.
Still, cutting back left many Marines in an incredibly competitive situation, career-wise. While this week's gunnery sergeant promotion figures fall short of relieving that pressure completely, it should let those worrying about a future in the Corps breathe easier.
Several of the moves matches earlier predictions. The All five MOSs that saw the biggest increases jobs were expected to see a surge in upward mobility this year. Official estimates had expected to promote an additional 68 infantry unit leaders over last year gunnery sergeant slots for infantry unit leaders rising by 68 over last year, for example.
And tThat falls in line with one of the major problems confronting the Corps, according to if you ask Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford. In January, Dunford outlined his vision for the service, including a plan to Chief among the problems he hoped to tackle was a shortage of experienced noncommissioned officers and staff enior NCOs.
The deficiency had hit units not deployed or preparing to deploy particularly hard, Dunford said according to Dunford's assessment. The loss of experienced NCOs pushed the Corps toward creating the new Squad Leader Development Program for infantry NCOsa small unit leadership program and a new occupational specialty specifically for promising young Marines.
"This dynamic affects training, maintenance and discipline," Dunford wrote in his planning guidance. "In the end, our readiness and combat effectiveness are degraded."
More gunnery sergeant promotions also should prove beneficial for career-minded staff sergeants already passed over once for advancement. The Staff Sergeant Retention Board, which decides what Marines with that rank will face involuntary separation from the service, meets immediately following the promotion board.