More Marines will be able to deploy starting in 2018 under changes to special duty assignments.

The Corps has reduced the number of duties that require special duty assignments’ lengthy screening process from five to three: recruiters, drill instructors and Marine security guard detachment commanders, according to MARADMIN 676/17.

Typically, about 8,600 Marines are selected each January to begin screening for special duty assignments the following fiscal year, Corps officials said. With fewer special duty assignments, the list of Marines selected for fiscal 2019 is expected to shrink by 40 percent, Corps officials said on Thursday.

Because the screening is so stringent, it can take up to 18 months before Marines are ready to begin training for these assignments, said Sgt. Major Troy Black, the senior enlisted leader for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. During this time, Marines cannot deploy or transfer to another unit.

“Once you fill a class up, you can’t say, ‘Oh, well I want to send that guy to Task Force Al Asad and I need to replace him,’” Black told Marine Corps Times. “OK, now I have to go re-screen 20 people to find one qualified.” first reported on Wednesday that the Corps was reducing the number of special duty assignments.

Under the latest changes, Marine combat instructors and Marine security guard watchstanders will be classified as “type-1 billets,” a newly created category. Those billets have less restrictive selection criteria compared to special duty assignments, Black explained.

For example, a Marine with several children can serve stateside as a combat instructor because there is a support structure in place for his or her family, but a Marine security guard detachment commander cannot count on having that level of family support overseas, he said.

As of now, there will be no change in pay for Marines in special duty assignments and type-1 billets, Black said. The Corps re-examines pay for Marines in these billets every two years, he said.

“The incentives that are currently in place will remain in place, but all of them are under the review,” Black said. “The question is: Will they change? They always change. To what extent: Unknown right now because the validation has to happen every two years.”

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