With the publication of Talent Management 2030, the Marine Corps said it was open to the possibility of having civilians with specialized skills enter the Corps at an elevated rank.

Initially the Corps seemed open to the idea that those highly skilled Marines could enter the Corps without going through either boot camp or officer candidate school.

Marine Commandant David Berger said in the talent management document, “Unless we find a means to quickly infuse expertise into the force ― at the right ranks ― I am concerned that advances in artificial intelligence and robotics, among other fields where the speed of technological change is exponential, will force us into a reactive posture.”

But the Marine Corps now believes lateral entry candidates would go through entry level training before joining the Corps at an elevated rank, Lt. Gen. David Ottignon, deputy commandant for Manpower and Reserve Affairs told Congress on Tuesday.

Ranking member Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisconsin, asked Ottignon on Tuesday, “If you’re bringing someone in as an O-5 because they have specialized cyber skills for example, how are you being mindful of the organization’s culture?”

Ottignon said the Corps is still in the early stages but has no plans on allowing those Marines to skip entry level training.

“Nowhere in (Talent Management 2030) did we say we would skip entry level training, officer candidate school,” Ottignon said.

The Corps is still exploring how the Marine Corps would use constructive service credits, spokesman Maj. Jordan Cochran said in a Tuesday email, which would allow Marine officers to enter the Corps at an elevated rank.

“Bottom line – It’s still in the initial stages, it’s all still being researched on how it would begin to be implemented,” Cochran told Marine Corps Times.

Ottignon testified that the Marine Corps could look at individuals who have master’s or doctorate degrees and apply that credit so that once they graduate from officer candidate school they will have a higher rank than their peers.

“It is an exciting thing to see where we can go,” Ottignon said.

Cochran said the plan could look similar to how the Corps attracts lawyers into the ranks.

“The (constructive service credit) merely allows the services to capitalize on the experience of those who would be eligible for lateral entry,” Cochran added. “Additionally, the highest rank for lateral entry is major, O-4.”

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