MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Explosive Ordnance Disposal is looking for a few good Marines. And with new standards for moving into that field, junior Marines can expect to see a big boom in their careers.
Any Marine serving in the ranks of lance corporal through sergeant now has the opportunity to apply to EOD from any MOS in accordance with the new policy.
The main reason for the change of requirements is that with the growing threat in the Global War on Terror, more EOD technicians are needed to keep up with terrorists, whose weapon of choice in Iraq is explosives.
"The reason for the increase is Iraq," said Gunnery Sgt. David E. Sutton, an EOD technician here.
"We're overtasked over there. We have units calling in for [EOD] support and have to sit there and wait half a day or longer for teams to arrive. It's causing other units to sometimes take matters into their own hands, and that's never good," added Sutton.
"Our numbers are growing and recently, the number of instructors at our school has doubled due to the large increase in numbers for both enlisted and officers," Sutton continued. "We're looking for Marines who are motivated, willing and can multitask. We usually work in small teams, so it's all about teamwork here."
Marines who decided to become EOD technicians must start by talking to their career planner to begin the process.
"First, a Marine needs to visit their [unit] career planner," said Staff Sgt. Alora B. Carter, Headquarters Battalion career planner. "From there, we'll arrange the screenings with medical and EOD as well as applications for a security clearance."
"Applicants go through a thorough medical screening and testing to make sure they are fit," said Carter. "That includes testing whether or not they are claustrophobic. For that, they are actually put in a bomb suit and have to sit there for 10 minutes."
Marines must be interviewed by an EOD officer and will receive a letter of recommendation that they will take back to their career planner.
"Once they receive the recommendation from EOD, we'll begin the reenlistment process," said Carter.
For Marines, a lateral move to EOD will require at least 36 months of service left on their contract, which usually means a reenlistment.
"For me, I'm going to have to reenlist because you need 36 months left after the school is done," said Sgt. Sean C. Castle, who has been with EOD for a month. "I came here for the challenge and adventure of it. And as clich as that sounds, I find it very interesting. It's an all-volunteer MOS, so you're working with Marines who actually want to be here, so the attitude here is amazing."
Marine Corps EOD is unique from other branches of service in the fact that it's comprised of Marines who do not come directly out of recruit training and is completely voluntary, said Sutton.
"Therefore, everyone has a secondary MOS they are proficient in, and we have a wide variety of skill sets that we can draw from as a team. We really have a full spectrum here," said Sutton.
Although the new rules have been already in place since early 2005, the basics for applying have not changed:
* Must be E-3 through E-5 (males and females accepted)
* First-term Marines must be in the fiscal year of their end of active service date
* Must posses a general technical (GT) score of 110 or above on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery
* Must be willing to extend or reenlist to have 36 months of obligated service upon entering training school
* Must be at least 21 years of age at time of screening
* Must be eligible for a security clearance
* Must be interviewed by an EOD officer or staff noncommissioned officer
* Must have normal color vision and no claustrophobic tendencies
* Must be a U.S. citizen
With the service obligations of EOD units around the Marine Corps, many EOD technicians have found themselves already on their third or fourth deployment to Iraq, said Sutton.
"It's not uncommon that our Marines will get back and have only a few months before they turn around and head right back," continued Sutton. "The main reason for that is our numbers. We have certain commitments we are required to fulfill and that also includes [Marine Expeditionary Units] on both coasts."
Although the service commitments may be a burden at times, many EOD Marines say they would not trade their jobs for anything.
"This is the best move that I have ever made," said Sutton. "I was an engineer constantly attached to infantry units. I had a little exposure to explosives, and it really sparked my interest. I'll reach my 10-year mark [with EOD] in August of this year."
"I'm new here, but from what I've seen all of these guys here are really excited about their job, and I'm looking forward to the future," said Castle.
While EOD units Corps-wide are seeking out qualified Marines to fill their ranks, the EOD MOS is offering a "Zone A" reenlistment bonus multiple of three, according to Headquarters Marine Corps.
"If a Marine is interested but not sure if they really want to apply, all they have to do is come down the EOD shop," said Sutton. "We're more than happy to sit down and tell them what it's all about and show them around."