Manning and end strength concerns
The Marine Corps continues to shrink, but not as quickly as previously announced by the Defense Department.
During the Iraq troop surge, there were roughly 202,000 Marines – a number that was supposed to dwindle to some 174,000 as part of sequestration.
Then in March 2015, the numbers were readjusted to 182,000, and revised again to 184,000 in the Navy’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget.
These fluctuating numbers have created some uncertainty among the troops. Will there still be room for them in the Marine Corps? Will force-shaping measures, such as the voluntary enlisted early release program, continue past 2016?
The changing numbers have also caused a dearth of qualified noncommissioned and senior noncommissioned officers, according to the 2015 Commandant’s Planning Guidance.
"We will address the current gaps in NCO and SNCO leadership by revamping our current manpower management and readiness reporting models, systems, policies and processes," the guidance stated.
What policies will be affected and when remains to be seen.
Photo courtesy Dalton Precht/U.S. Marine Corps