MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. — Marine recruiters will face new challenges in the year ahead as the service sets out to attract more female enlistees and the Pentagon considers revolutionary plans that would allow mean redoubles efforts to sign more females and begins considering the possibly of signing civilians with highly specialized skills to enter the Corps service at advanced ranks, according to the head of Marine Corps Recruiting Command in Quantico, Virginia.

With the military on the brink of possibly opening more jobs to women, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus recently announced a Navy Department-wide mandate to boost the number of female enlisted recruits to one-in-four starting in 2016.

At the same time, Pentagon officials are in the midst of examining huge changes to the military personnel system that would drastically change the way Marines look for future enlisted Marines and officers.

Lt. Gen. Mark Brilakis, second from left and shown here as a two-star, meets with recruiters in Maryland. Brilakis serves as head of Marine Corps Recruiting Command and Manpower and Reserve Affairs.

Photo Credit: Sgt. Amber Williams/Marine Corps

All of that could pose new challenges for Marine recruiters, said Lt. Gen. Mark Brilakis, the head of Marine Corps Recruiting Command. Here's a look at what's ahead for Marines in his charge.

Meanwhile, the service will continue to push its high-profile marketing campaigns aimed  at young viewers of sporting events and drive forward with its standard mission of shipping enough bodies to bootcamp and Officer Candidates School to fill the service's future operational needs, said Lt. Gen. Mark Brilakis the commander of MCRC.

More female recruits

At this start of fiscal year 2016, which kicks in Oct. 1, This year recruiters will be given new quotas to recruit more women which could prove challenging.

"They are going to be told what the floor is, and they are going to be recruiting females," Brilakis said.

The rally to recruit more women females is ties back to the in large part driven by a May speech by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus at the U.S. Naval Academy in which he directed  in Annapolis, Maryland. He directed both the Navy and Marine Corps to work toward making 25 percent of all enlisted recruits women.

Brilakis stressed that Marine leaders were already three to four years into their own female recruitment push with measurable success, bringing their end strength to 8 percent women.

"We are going to increase, over the next three years, that overall number and ... we will be over 10 percent of our end-strength as female."

That said, Mabus’ call to boost the number of women by another 15 percentage points is ambitious. And the The Marine Corps is likely to have a more difficult time meeting that figure than the Air Force or even the Navy.

"The fact is none of the services are at 25 twenty-five percent," Brilakis said. "...I think we can turn that around, but I think all the services have concerns about getting to that particular percentage overall."

"Where that ends depends on what the market will bear and quite frankly we suffer probably the lowest number in what you call propensity -- those that are thinking of military service -- amongst women," he said. "I think we can turn that around, but I think all the services have concerns about getting to that particular percentage overall."

'Force of the future' Direct commissions and enlisting

Recruiting civilians to enter the military as officers and enlisted Marines who enter service at advanced paygrades is another hot topic as the Defense Department services struggles to build a stable cadre of troops in technical communities. 

Defense Secretary Ash Carter and his personnel chief are looking at the possibility of bringing in skilled civilians at higher ranks, as the Marine Corps currently does with the talented It remains, however, to be seen if direct commissioninin g and direct enlisting will be used more broadly. Talented musicians who join The are already recruited to the President’s Own as staff sergeants.

"The one that always comes to mind in that discussion is cyber," Brilakis said, as leaders are determined to do more on the cyber-warfare front.

Discussion of the topic was jump started by Future of the Force Initiative, a massive Defense Department personnel overhaul that seeks to revamp military careers to improve retention and stock the services with capable personnel as they compete with private industry for talent.

If Defense Department leaders wanted to open higher ranks up to new enlistees, the commandant already has the authority to place them into roles where they're needed most, Brilakis said. During World War II, the Marine Corps had the authority to commission new officers at the ranks of major, lieutenant colonel or colonel. If the decision were made to do that, it’s an authority the commandant already has.

"Duringthe second world war the Marine Corps commissioned officers at the ranks of — majors, lieutenant colonels and colonels," Brilakis said. "We brought them right in off the street because they had specific skills and we didn’t have the 10 to 15 years to bring in a second lieutenant and raise him up to that level," he said.

The trick, he added, is identifying an urgent need and then deciding how to test recruits and officer candidates to ensure they meet basic criteria.

New recruiting campaigns

In the year ahead the Marine Corps will continue to push its new two-part marketing campaign released last year which includes two video spots, The Wall and The Land We Love.

"Both have resonated well," Brilakis said. "I never enough money to put them on as often as I would like. But, you are going to see those things more often where our market is. We are looking for young men and women between the ages of 17 and 27 and we find them primarily in sporting events."

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