WASHINGTON -- Infantry Marines specializing in light armored vehicles and reconnaissance will soon have more senior enlisted experts, which until recently, reached no higher than sergeant because crewmen in the field were forced into another specialty once promoted to staff sergeant.
The staff sergeants and above who became infantry unit leaders, a job field that encompasses a wide infantry skill base, are eligible to return back to their original occupational specialty as light armored vehicle crewmen, according to Marine Administration Message 137/07.
If Marines have the Infantry Unit Leader specialty and have served in an LAR battalion, they will also be eligible to move into the LAR field. This is a one time conversion program and is applicable to both active and reserve Marines.
Leaders in the field of LAR through their operational advisory group proposed the plan to get more senior leadership experience back into the field.
“They had retention issues because Marines wanted to reenlist but it was nearly impossible for them to get back to an LAR unit,” said Capt. Paul Gillikin, manpower analyst at Headquarters Marine Corps, Plans, Policy, and Operations.
A promotion pyramid has been planned and authorized to help maintain a healthy promotional level in the field, said Gillikin.
The Private to Master Gunnery Sergeant field, also known as a Cradle-to-Grave MOS, has been in the planning stages since December 2005, said Gillikin.
“The change is good,” said Sgt. David K. Snyder, a company master gunner, Delta Company, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Marine Corps Base Quantico.
He hasn’t seen that many light armored vehicle crewmen move to infantry units but he has had a couple platoon sergeants that were from other infantry communities, such as infantry riflemen said the Ballwin, Mo., native.
By keeping LAR Marines in the same community, the expertise stays within the LAR units and less time goes into training a new staff noncommissioned officer.
“The program is also a return on investment issue with training and
education,” said Gillikin.
The LAR field has recently upgraded its weapons systems and is emphasizing key billets such as master gunners.
Light Armored Vehicle crewmen operate the LAV, an eight-wheeled, all-terrain, all- weather vehicle. The crewmen operate as a gunner, commander, driver, and will now include senior leadership roles. The vehicle is capable of operating in water and crewmen must be at least a 2nd Class Swim Qualification to be eligible to join. The vehicle
is equipped with two machine guns, an M240 7.62 and an M242 25mm chain gun known as the Bushmaster.