The Marine Corps released a new plan Wednesday, saying it should rethink how it recruits and retains Marines, and has suggested for the first time in decades that threats from China and other adversaries require personnel changes that may require some cutbacks. to accommodate a new focus on retention of trained personnel.
General David Berger, commandant of the Marine Corps, said he saw no alternative but to abandon a system that for many wars prioritized the formation of “young, physically tough, replaceable forces” that were “not as highly skilled.” Over the past 35 years, the service has changed about 75% of its forces annually, Berger said, replacing thousands of young Marines each year who join the ranks for four years, while other services retain a higher percentage of troops.
“We’re an anomaly and we’re bragging about it – and I think it worked for us,” Berger said. “I don’t think we’ll fail.”
Berger said the Marine Corps will have to “treat people like people, not inventory,” making it attractive for those who already have the experience to stay. This needs to be done urgently, he said, because tackling growing problems like China will require mature, experienced military personnel who have multiple skills and who can act independently without communication with higher headquarters.
The plan, dubbed Talent Management 2030, represents a significant cultural shake-up for the service, which once told Americans in hiring advertisements that they were “looking for some good people” and not “promising you a rose garden.” ”He also calls for the service to promote equality and diversity among the Marines, create ‘sideways’ paths for people with the desired skills so they can join the service without starting at lower ranks, and reduce staffing requirements to move around that way. the same often.
In addition, the Corps plans to request permission next year to extend the length of parental leave granted to its employees. The plan stipulates that primary caregivers can take up to one year of leave and secondary caregivers receive up to 12 weeks.
Berger left open the possibility that the service could be scaled back to accommodate the transition to a more experienced force that makes more money. The plan, he said, is not about creating a “kinder, softer” Marine Corps, but focusing on quality over quantity and keeping good Marines in shape.
“We are in the talent market,” he said. “So, the Marine we’ve trained for four or 10 years, we have to work hard to keep him. And if the reason they leave is because they too cannot see the past: “I can make a military career or I can have a family,” we should do our best to try to find ways where we can save their.”
There are approximately 180,000 Marines in the service. In a complementary plan called Force Design 2030, announced last year, Berger announced his intention to cut the Marine Corps to 174,000 by 2030. At the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, some 202,000 people were on active duty.
Berger said the service has not figured out how much the new plan will cost.
“We proceed from the premise that we cannot afford not to do this,” the commandant said. “I don’t know the balance yet.”