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Marines weigh stripping the word 'man' from all job titles

One of the most time-honored phrases in the Marine Corps — "every Marine a rifleman" — could get an update as the service's top leaders consider new gender-neutral job titles for all positions.

The Marine Corps is conducting a sweeping review of its military occupational specialty titles, Capt. Philip Kulczewski, a Marine spokesman at the Pentagon, told Marine Corps Times. The move follows a January directive from Navy Secretary Ray Mabus that Navy and Marine leaders ensure all job titles are gender neutral as ground combat jobs opened to women.

Mabus specifically wanted the word "man" dropped from all titles. That could mean that female Marines — or even men — heading to ground-combat jobs may not pick up traditional titles like rifleman or artilleryman.

Kulczewski declined to answer questions about how many titles could change, when the review would be complete or what the new job names could be, since the review is still ongoing.

Navy Capt. Patrick McNally, a spokesman for Mabus, also declined to comment on the status of the sea services' reviews.

"[The Navy secretary] has met with leadership from both services on the issue and we will have an announcement on a way ahead at the appropriate time," he said.

Initially, a Navy official told Marine Corps Times that Mabus didn't intend to change iconic titles like infantryman, rifleman or midshipman. Instead, the official said, he only wanted titles to change the titles if "man" stood alone as a separate word, as in reconnaissance man or field artillery sensor support man.

But a Marine official with knowledge of the review said "every single" title, billet and job description is being looked at.

Pfc. Christina Fuentes Montenegro was one of the first three women to graduate from the Marine Corps' Infantry Training Battalion in October 2013. As women take on new roles in the military, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus ordered the Navy and Marine Corps to review all job titles that include the word "man."

Photo Credit: Sgt. Tyler Main/Marine Corps

The Corps' most senior leaders — including the commandant and assistant commandant — along with members of Training and Education Command; Marine Corps Combat Development Command; Manpower and Reserve Affairs; Plans, Policies and Operations; and Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, are involved in the assessment, the official said.

Mabus ordered the Marine Corps to conduct the review the same day he instructed Commandant Gen. Robert Neller to develop a plan to make the service's entry-level training coed. Within days, it was determined that men and women would continue training separately at Marine boot camp. But the job title review forged ahead.

"As we achieve full integration of the force ... this is an opportunity to update the position titles and descriptions themselves to demonstrate through this language that women are included in these MOSs," Mabus wrote in the January order. "Please review the position titles throughout the Marine Corps and ensure that they are gender-integrated as well, removing 'man' from the titles and provide a report to me as soon as is practicable."

The Navy took its review one step further. In addition to finding gender-neutral job title options, its leaders are also on the hunt for rating titles that better match what sailors do. Navy yeomen, for example, could end up with a title like administrative specialist.

"I was talking to a corpsman the other day and guess what they used to be called? Pharmacist's mate," Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens told Navy Times in January. "... Maybe there [are] rating titles out there that just don't make sense anymore."

Stevens, the Navy's top senior enlisted leader, kicked off a canvassing of the fleet earlier this year in order to get sailors' thoughts and recommendations on the new titles.

"This has to come from the fleet," he said. "It needs to work its way up through enlisted leadership. ... They are the voice of their people."

Senior Reporter Mark D. Faram contributed to this report. 

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