The goal of the bonus is to keep Marines with the 0372 critical skills operator military occupational specialty, or MOS, to stay in the Corps despite being eligible for retirement, a spokeswoman for the Marine Corps said.
“This incentive is to maintain retirement eligible 0372s at a healthy inventory level,” Yvonne Carlock said in an emailed statement. “Their appeal outside of the Marine Corps is assumed to cause Marines to retire and accept higher paying opportunities elsewhere."
The Corps insisted that the bonus does not necessarily indicate it is running low on senior enlisted Raiders, but simply shows “a strong desire to maintain certain skills.”
But in 2018 there was a nearly 11 percent manpower shortage across the elite Marine Raider units, and the American commandos needed to grow by an additional 368 Marines to hit their approved end-strength goal of 3,110, said Maj. Nick Mannweiler, then a spokesman for MARSOC. The Marine Corps has not given current numbers to Marine Corps Times.
Earlier in 2020 MARSOC announced a consolidation of its units at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The consolidation, which started in fall 2019, will see roughly 900 Marines, sailors and civilian employees with the 1st Marine Raider Battalion and 1st Marine Raider Support Battalion, both located at Camp Pendleton, California, join the rest of the Raider community out east, Marine Corps Times previously reported.
It takes time to create a Raider.
To earn the 0372 MOS Marines must first attend a two phase assessment and selection process where they are pushed to their mental and physical limit in order to determine who has a chance of becoming a Raider.
After being selected the Marines then attend the rigorous nine month Individual Training Course.
Once they pass the course the new Raider must go on to take language and airborne school. Due to the extensive time and money it takes to create new Raiders, paired with the small size of the force, every Raider lost is a blow to the Corps.
“Due to the intentionally small footprint of Critical Skills Operators, it is important that MARSOC keeps the best and brightest within our formation to be able to respond to emergencies when our nation requires,” Gunnery Sgt. Lynn Kinney, a spokeswoman for Marine Forces Special Operations Command, told Marine Corps Times in an email.
“Our service recognizes the need to retain this talent in order to prepare for the demands presented by an ever-changing global competition environment," she added.