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Pacific edition, Saturday, August 25, 2007

CAMP SCHWAB, Okinawa — Leaders with the Camp Schwab-based 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion said this week that recently announced changes to the recon community will make Marine reconnaissance stronger.

A recent Corpswide message eliminated a requirement that Marines go through a physical screening at the reconnaissance battalion level. It also consolidates the two recon schools into one, under the School of Infantry at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Establishing one “school of excellence” with its basic reconnaissance course of nine weeks ensures that recon Marines will be trained to the same standard, said Lt. Col. William Seely, 3rd Recon battalion commander.

The changes to initial physical screenings and basic recon training mean “we’re moving forward … we’re looking forward in the reconnaissance community,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Larry Matvey, 3rd Recon operations chief.

Marines who want to switch military occupational specialty to become a recon Marine will instead undergo the physical screening at the Pendleton school. They also must meet the minimum requirements listed in Marine Administrative Message 417/07.

But, it’s still up to a Marine’s parent command to ensure Marines meet the minimum requirements and are physically capable of meeting the school’s challenges, Seely said.

Before the change, reconnaissance battalions were required to man training platoons to conduct screening and train Marine hopefuls awaiting school seats, said Sgt. Maj. Ken. Pickering, 3rd Recon’s battalion sergeant major.

Pickering said that the Marine Corps’ current operational tempo made it difficult to muster the manpower needed to maintain those training platoons.

Now, recon Marines will be able to focus on preparing for operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, sustainment training and training with new equipment, he said.

Seely added that this also will make reconnaissance screening and training consistent across the board.

The East Coast-based course is scheduled to shut down Sept. 28 and integrate with its West Coast counterpart; meanwhile battalions will no longer maintain training platoons, Pickering said. He said that 3rd Recon has already transferred a few Marines to be instructors at the new school.

Matvey said that with the school of excellence established, he expects in coming years to see additional advanced reconnaissance courses as recon Marines advance in rank.

“This is an exciting time; it’s a great time to be a recon Marine,” he said.

Battalion: Marines should go past minimum requirements

CAMP SCHWAB, Okinawa — The Marine Corps has established minimum requirements for Marines to be eligible to switch to the reconnaissance field, but 3rd Reconnaissance leaders said Tuesday that the minimum is not enough.

Some of the requirements male Marines sergeant and below must attain include:

n A general technical score of 105 or higher.n A 200 or higher on the physical fitness test. n A combat water survival-3 swim qualification or higher.

But that’s not enough to be really prepared, said Lt. Col. William Seely, 3rd Recon’s commander.

“Don’t just meet the minimums,” he said.

For example, the minimum physical fitness score is 200, so to be really prepared, maintain a much higher score, he said.

The battalion’s Sgt. Maj. Ken Pickering added Marines also should complete all the resident professional military education they might need for a promotion before heading to recon school.

Once out of school, “you’re going to have a heavy schedule of recon training in front of you for” operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, he said.

Recon is a mental and physical challenge — “it gives a Marine an incredible opportunity to challenge himself,” the sergeant major said.

“This is an all-volunteer (occupational specialty) and the Marines that want to be challenged are the ones we want to see,” he added.

For more information about the requirements for a lateral move into the reconnaissance field, go to Marine Administrative Message 417/07 at www.usmc.mil.

— Cindy Fisher

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