Historically the Marine Corps has chosen to only retain 25% of first terms Marines, taking pride in the fact the Marine Corps has been the youngest force in the Department of Defense.

But in 2022 that will start to change as the Marine Corps looks to improve retention and start fielding an older, more mature force.

The decision comes as the Marine Corps prepares for a more complicated battlefield.

“The machine gunner who is also corpsman, a medic, also has to be able to talk to MQ-9 UAVs and bring in ordnance and understand the satellite connection that is required to do that,” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger said in early November 2021 when he unveiled the Marine Corps’ new talent management plan.

Though the older force will likely cost more in terms of salary, Berger says it is possible that the Corps will save money with a more mature force that gets in trouble less and is more likely to complete a full term of service.

Studies have shown that the human brain does not fully develop and people are not fully mature until they are 25 years old.

“Our youngest Marines are also responsible for a disproportionate share of misconduct across the force,” Berger said in the Talent Management 2030 document. “This simple fact of biology cannot be overcome by training, education, or leadership.”

A slight increase in age may also come with improved physical performance.

External science and the Marine Corps’ own physical fitness test scores show that people do not hit their physical peak until their mid- to late twenties.

“Aerobic and anaerobic athletic performance typically peaks in the mid-twenties, a scientific finding supported by our own PFT and CFT data,” the Corps’ Talent Management 2030 document said. “Marines in their mid-to late twenties do more pull-ups, crunches, ammunition cans lifts, and run faster than Marines aged 17-22 (those typically in their first enlistments).”

The Marine Corps has not yet said exactly how much it wants to increase retention by.

This is an excerpt from “19 Things Marines Need To Know For 2022,” in the January print edition of Marine Corps Times.

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