The Marine Corps is phasing out the assault section of rifle companies and abolishing the infantry assault Marine military occupational specialty altogether.
By doing so, the Corps expects to free up about 500 Marines for other jobs deemed essential to defeating future adversaries, such as cyber operations, electronic warfare and intelligence, Military.com reported on Wednesday.
Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller recently told Marines that future rifle companies will include combat engineers to breach barriers and destroy enemy fortifications with rockets — tasks which currently are assigned to infantry assault Marines.
Marine Corps officials did not immediately comment Wednesday on Gen. Neller’s remarks.
The Corps had planned to expand to at least 194,000 active-duty Marines, but Defense Secretary James Mattis has told the Marines to focus on improving readiness first.
Without an increase in end strength, the Corps “had to create some trades to buy Marines to do other things,” Neller told Military.com.
Because training is so similar to what other infantry Marines receive, current infantry assault Marines should be able to easily transition to other MOSs, Neller said. Typically, the infantry assault Marine MOS is for Marines at the rank of sergeant and below.
Neller also told Marines that the Corps will begin using the Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle in lieu of the current MK-153 shoulder launched multipurpose assault weapon, or SMAW.
“Do I like the SMAW? Yes, I do. But we had to give up something to get something else,” Military.com quoted Neller as saying.