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thedrifter
10-17-06, 01:43 PM
October 23, 2006
Re-up window closing fast
Record-setting re-enlistment rate fills MOSs, forces lateral moves

By John Hoellwarth
Staff writer

If you’ve waited to see a career retention specialist about re-enlisting this year, there’s a good chance you’ll get some bad news. Other Marines with your job are scooping up the remaining boatspaces at a rate the Corps hasn’t seen in more than a decade.

Authorized increases to Marine Corps end strength coupled with consistent recruiting and anti-attrition policies over the past five years have created a larger pool of first-term Marines for the Corps to re-enlist, according to an Oct. 5 Congressional Budget Office report.

The report said the Corps has a higher per capita population of first-term personnel than any other service branch, which allows it to be more picky about who stays around for a second contract and who gets shown the door. And with retention officials at Quantico, Va., planning to hand out more than $100 million in re-enlistment incentives on a first-come, first-served basis during fiscal 2007, applications are pouring in.

As of Oct. 11, the Corps had received 3,870 re-enlistment applications for fiscal 2007. That’s more than 63 percent of the annual retention goal of 6,095, and it was attained less than two weeks into the new fiscal year.

Once the Corps receives an application, it gets vetted. If approved, the Corps will authorize a 15-day window for the Marine to raise his right hand, repeat the oath and make four more years official.

So far this year, 1,158 Marines have completed the process, placing the Corps 162 signed contracts ahead of last year’s record-setting pace.

Retention specialist Maj. Trevor Hall said that when this fiscal year began Oct. 1, 38 military occupational specialties were already closed for re-enlistment because early applications had exceeded annual allocations.

Hall said Marines in these jobs who didn’t get their package in early, or who simply didn’t make the cut during the weeding-out process, don’t necessarily have to leave the Corps. They’ve got the option of a lateral move into another field.

Normally, lat-move applications aren’t accepted until Dec. 1 so Corps officials can be sure Marines who are just looking for a change of pace don’t get boatspace priority over Marines looking to stay in their own job field.

But the waiting period doesn’t apply to Marines who are forced to lat-move out of a closed MOS. They can submit a package for a boatspace in any open MOS at any time.

That means, as of Oct. 1, hundreds of Marines from across 38 job specialties who didn’t make the cut in their primary MOS began gunning for a boatspace in yours. Plus, 11 air wing MOSs have already turned out the lights. And the way things are going, more MOSs could close for re-enlistment in the blink of an eye, according to Hall.

He said this likely will mean further increases in re-enlistment competition for open MOSs in the same job field as closed ones.

For example, aircraft mechanics who’ve missed their opportunity to continue wrenching on the bird they know best will likely compete for a boatspace that gets them wrenching on yours.

It’s a devil dog-eat-dog world, but it’s making the Corps stronger, Hall said.

“We’re definitely being able to pick the very best. Studies from the Center for Naval Analyses show that the overall quality of Marines retained in the Corps is improving,” he said.

As of press time, Hall said 13 MOSs were on the verge of taking the welcome mat off the porch. Only three boatspaces are left for parachute riggers. Machinists and Asia-Pacific cryptologic linguists each have two.

The following MOSs are only one re-enlistment package away from being closed:

• Combat photographer (4641).

• Aviation radar repairman (5942).

• Individual material readiness list asset manager (6042).

• Helicopter/tilt-rotor dynamic components mechanic (6132).

• Fixed-wing aircraft mechanic, EA-6 Prowler (6213).

• Fixed-wing aircraft mechanic, F/A-18 Hornet (6217).

• Unmanned aerial vehicle mechanic (6214).

• Hybrid test set technician, individual mobilization augmentee (6461).

• Radar systems test station technician, individual mobilization augmentee (6463).

• Airborne radio operator/in-flight refueling observer/loadmaster (7382).

Ellie