2016 will mark the end of the Marine Corps drawdown, and it will bring greater opportunities for Marines to re-enlist.
The end of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, combined with increasing budget constraints, prompted the Corps over the past several years to dramatically reduce overall troop strengths while seeking to preservinge a combat-ready force.
The service will successfully reach an end-strength this fiscal year of 182,000 active-duty Marines, down from a wartime high of 202,000 troops and of an 183,400 Marines at the end of fiscal 2015strong force last year, according to officials with Marine Corps Manpower and Reserve Affairs, the department overseeing the drawdown.
The key to a successful conclusion of the downsizing has been to maintain the right balance of military occupational specialties within the force, an effort that will continue throughout fiscal 2016has been bringing balance of to the force.
"Now that we have gotten close to the number we want to be at, the challenge is balancing internally everything that we've got in the Marine Corps," Lt. Gen. Mark Brilakis, deputy commandant for M&RA, told Marine Corps Times in September.
Programs Initiatives like such as the Temporary Early Retirement Authority and the Voluntaryeer Enlisted Early Release Program streamlined the force-reduction process, but not equally across the force.
Because planners could neither fully predict or control which Marines would leave the force once the incentives to leave were established, neticementsEnticing Marines to leave the force left some occupational areas were left with an imbalance, Brilakis said. Now, , and now the Corps has its sights on ensuring the right number of troops are in the right military occupational specialties and at the right grades.
This is good news for Marines who want to stay in, according to M&RA spokeswoman Yvonne Carlock.
"We will continue to retain Marines who want to stay in the Corps," she said. "There are and will be opportunities for Marines to re-enlist, [and] planners actually anticipate greater re-enlistment opportunities."
For some Marines, this This could mean a lateral move outside of their primary military occupational specialty, for some Marines, but also opening the doors for new careers.
This is especially true for more than the case for over 1,000 first-term Marines whose current contracts are is set to expire this fiscal year. Manpower officials aim to retain about a quarter of them to fill boatspaces across 23 slower-filling MOSs, including infantry, artillery, motor transport, data communications and aircraft maintenance.
Since manpower officials announced their targets in July, more than 2,000 first-term Marines have re-upped, filling 60 MOSs, with 83 further MOSs on track to be filled, not including these 23.
The Marine Corps continues to offer pay, benefits and advancement opportunities competitive with today's economy, Carlock said.
Additionally, deployment opportunities remain are still strong as special purpose Marine air-ground task forces the Corps increasingly take on missions across the globe through its special purpose Marine air-ground task forces.
"What often sets us apart from other services is that Marines join and stay in the Marine Corps because they want to be Marines," Carlock said.