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Pacific edition, Wenesday, August 1, 2007

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Marine Corps has eliminated a requirement that Marines go through physical screening before training to become reconnaissance Marines.

The move affects Marines at the rank of sergeant and below who want to make a “lateral move,” or switch Military Occupational Specialties, to become recon Marines, a recent Corpswide message says.

Regarded as the Corps’ elite, recon Marines have traditionally gathered intelligence from deep behind enemy lines. But in the course of the Iraq war, their mission has evolved to conducting counterinsurgency operations.

The Corps currently has about 1,169 recon Marines and it hopes to have about 1,260 by the end of this fiscal year, said Maj. Thomas M. Tennant, of Manpower and Reserve Affairs.

The Corps hopes to have 1,475 recon Marines through fiscal 2011, he said.

One reason the Corps nixed the physical screening prior to basic recon training is that many Marines simply didn’t have time to go through the screening due to the current operations tempo, Tennant said.

The Corps has folded the pre-training Marines used to go through into the initial phases of the Basic Reconnaissance Course, meaning Marines who do not make the grade early on can be reassigned to infantry or other combat arms, Tennant said.

Marines who re-enlist in order to make the move to recon can be eligible to a Selective Re-enlistment Bonus of up to $61,000 upon completing the Basic Reconnaissance Course, Tennant said.

The bonus is not open to “career Marines,” or Marines who have re-enlisted at least once, according to the message.

Recon Marines who complete follow-up schools can be eligible for an extra $150 per month in jump pay, and up to $340 per month extra in dive pay, he said.

The Corps outlined the eligibility requirements for Marines who want to go recon in Marine Corps Administrative Message (MARADMIN) 417/07.

To make the switch to recon, Marines must be male U.S. citizens who have:

n A General Technical score of 105 or higher.

n A score of 200 or higher on the Physical Fitness Test.

n A Combat Water Survival-3 swim qualification or higher.

n Normal color vision.

Marines with corrected vision must have 20/20 vision in one eye and at least 20/100 vision in the other, the MARADMIN says.

To go recon, Marines cannot have upper respiratory problems or ear, nose and skin problems that would make a Marine unable to be part of prolonged testing in salt water, the MARADMIN says. Furthermore, they cannot have ankle, knee, back or shoulder injuries that would prevent them for participating in field and physical fitness training.

The Corps currently has a total of three recon battalions, one of which is on Okinawa, Tennant said.

After joining a recon battalion, recon Marines can move on to join U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, he said.

For more information, go to MARADMIN 417/07 at www.usmc.mil.

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