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My unit is going away... Now what?

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Marines from 2nd and 3rd Platoon, Company D, Anti-Terrorism Battalion, 4th Marine Division, listened to their future options to continue serving in the Marine Corps. Their infantry company is being transformed into a military police company.

The move is a result of the commandant-directed Force Structure Review, which will affect 147 of 183 Marine Forces Reserve sites as the Corps restructures and modernizes its units. After a decade of war, MARFORRES is shaping its capabilities for the future by increasing units such as civil affairs, intelligence, and military police.

With Company D being transformed into a part of the newly emerging, 4th Law Enforcement Battalion, it meant decision-making time for the infantry Marines.

If qualified, they can change occupations to become military policemen; stay an infantryman at the unit until their mandatory drill stop date; go to another unit if permissible; get out of the Corps; or choose other available career options.

“They need to think about what is best for them and their families and how they can serve the Marine Corps to help us retain a force that can accomplish our assigned mission,” said Capt. John Strange, Inspector & Instructor of 2nd and 3rd Platoon.

The Corps sent a cadre of subject matter experts to help Marines affected by the restructuring. The group is known to the Reserves as the Personnel Transition Team, or PTT.

The PTT was created by MARFORRES Manpower to help smooth over transitions for Marines. It is comprised of personnel from Headquarters Marine Corps Policy Branch, Continuation and Transition Branch, MARFORRES Manpower and career planners.

They travel to sites to advise Marines of their options and can waive requirements and approve packages on the spot for occupational changes, reenlistments, unit transfers and other career moves. These requests usually take several months to get approved, but the team can approve them in only a few days.

For the PTT, it is all about keeping faith with Marines.

“The most important element we have is the individual Marine,” said David Roberts, MARFORRES Recruiting and Retention officer. “The individual Marine tells the Marine Corps story, and I want them to tell good stories-- about how the Marine Corps looked out for them-- to their friends and brothers and sisters who may want to join in the future.”

After Company D’s Marines listened to the team inform them of their options, they broke off into different sections, based on their career choices to get more information and initiate action on their plans. Some stayed in the classroom to fill applications to become military policemen, others fanned out to explore other options. The general choices provided to the Marines were:

1. Marines can request a lateral move to a new military occupational specialty if there is no position for their original MOS or rank at a unit within a reasonable commute.

2. Marines can remain affiliated with a different Selected Marine Corps Reserve unit that has an opening for their MOS and rank.

3. Marines can affiliate with an Individual Mobilization Augmentee detachment or the Active Reserve Program.

4. Non-contractually obligated Marines can request to transfer to the Individual Ready Reserve.

5. Marines can simply do nothing, remaining at the unit until their mandatory drill stop date. Marines are, however, encouraged to take another route because once the unit is mostly transformed, they won’t be able to participate in unit training because they’re no longer MOS qualified.

6. Request an inter-service transfer to the active-duty component of another military service.

At the end of the day, 24 out of 46 Marines requested to change occupations, two requested an inter-service transfer and the rest chose to stay riflemen.

Regardless of Marines’ choices, the PTT screened all the Marines, to get their information, so that any future requests can be processed faster should they decide to change their mind later.

Overall, the Marines appreciated the information and assistance the PTT was able to provide.

“I feel hopeful because they genuinely want to help us out and are still willing to work with everybody regardless of their decision,” said Cpl. Ryan Costea, an infantryman who is thinking about continuing to serve in the active-reserve component.

Costea added, “I am grateful because they didn’t have to do this. The Marine Corps is spending a lot of money on retaining us. That espirit de Corps that we learned in bootcamp is really being shown here.”

The PTT has already screened Marines who will transition, in Memphis, Tenn.; Anchorage, Ala.; Aurora, Colo.; Chicopee, Mass.; and now in Billings. They have scheduled stops at Marietta, Ga., and Albany, N.Y., in December.

Article by Cpl. Nana Dannsa-Appiah, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve