But re-enlistment intent is on the decline across the enlisted ranks, according to the results of the 2015 EAS Enlisted Retention Survey. Of the more than 4,200 Marines who took that survey, 38 percent said they were unlikely to sign on for another term, up 7 percent since 2013. Respondents listed civilian job opportunities, a lack of job satisfaction and pay as some of the top reasons influencing their decision to leave the Corps.
Leaders hoping to get to the bottom of what's preventing more enlisted troops from re-enlisting are tasking career planners with finding out what's on the minds of Marines up for re-enlistment.
The information career planners collect will be presented to commanders who could then be tasked with goals for filling certain boat spaces within their commands. Here's a look at some of the questions career planners will ask in order to get a "pulse of the force."
- What are the top three factors influencing their retention decision?
- What are the three incentives that did or could influence their retention decision?
- What are the outside factors that make civilian life more appealing?
"The intent is to provide commanders with some of the current variables that are affecting retention, in order to inform their effort to mentor, dialogue and retain talent," the MARADMIN reads.
Pay, benefits and career opportunities are strong, and Marines join and stay in the Corps because they want to serve, said Yvonne Carlock, a Manpower and Reserve Affairs spokeswoman. Carlock provided responses on the Marine Corps' enlistment assessment from the command's enlisted plans and retention sections.
As the Marine Corps gets closer to its drawdown goals, the urgency to re-enlist has slowed, she said. Marines are no longer competing for drastically fewer and fewer boat spaces each year.
Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 31 stand in formation while off the coast of western Australia.
Photo Credit: Lance Cpl. Brian Bekkala/Marine Corps
"The current challenge is to attain and maintain the proper balance in rank and MOS," she said. "This requires that we take a more active approach to the retention process."
"The below information is intended to assist commanders in this effort by providing a summary of the general state of FTAP retention in the Marine Corps and to highlight key MOSs that require additional command focus."
The information in the MARADMIN, "is intended to assist commanders in this effort by providing a summary of the general state of FTAP retention in the Marine Corps and to highlight key MOSs that require additional command focus."
Opportunities for Marines
For Marines still thinking about re-enlisting, their ability to get the assignment they're hoping for largely depends on their MOS.
Seven specialties in particular are considered slow-filling MOSs. Those are likely to be the primary targets of the push by commanders to scrounge up more submissions for re-enlistment. Manpower officials plan to monitor remaining boat spaces in slow-filling MOSs, and will assign a specific retention mission for each force-level commander by Nov. 15.
In some cases, the MOSs provide generous re-up bonuses or healthy promotion prospects. Many also provide skills that will easily transfer to civilian jobs. They include:
- 0211: Counterintelligence/human intelligence specialist
- 0241: Imagery Analysis Specialist
- 0651: Cyber network operator
- 0689: Cyber security technician
- 2336: Explosive ordnance disposal technician
- 3521: Automotive organizational technician
- 3531: Motor vehicle operator
Jobs that still offer handsome payouts include up to $56,000 for counterintelligence/human intelligence specialists and cyber security technicians. Similarly cyber network operators receive up to $30,750 and explosive ordnance disposal technicians up to $51,000.
Junior Marines in ground combat arms can also expect to enjoy healthy retention incentives as the service works to retain combat experienced squad leaders -- corporals and sergeants -- under the Squad Leader Development Program that provides those willing to reenlist while agreeing to remain squad leaders by moving into the newly-created "squad leader" MOS for four years up to $20,500.
So while Manpower officials enlist the help of commanders to shape the force with the right Marines in the right ranks and right MOSs, there remains healthy opportunity. That is particularly the case in the services the so-called HD/LD jobs and slow filling MOSs where Marines can cash in to remain in uniform.
Marines hope to submit in one of the fast-filling specialties will be subject to re-enlistment boards, meaning only the most competitive will be selected to fill the spot, rather than offering re-enlistment on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Some MOSs — including administrative specialist, machinist, MV-22 tiltrotor crew chief and aviation operations specialist — have already been closed completely, according to the MARADMIN.
All Marines hoping to remain in uniform and who have not submitted for re-enlistment yet should do so as quickly as possible. Manpower officials would not reveal the entire list of MOSs they predict will soon fill, but did say that another 26 are on the verge of becoming fast-filling. Water support technician and basic aviation ordnance Marine were likely candidates, officials said.
That could shut out remaining Marines in those jobs.