An estimated 87 colonels and 82 lieutenant colonels will face the Selective Early Retirement Board this year. (Staff)
Fewer colonels and lieutenant colonels will go before this year’s Selective Early Retirement Board, which will force some officers out of uniform as part of the service’s manpower drawdown.
An estimated 87 colonels will be considered by the fiscal year 2014 board, according to MARADMIN 529/13, signed Oct. 15. That is down significantly from the 150 colonels scrutinized last year.
According to law, a SERB can select up to 30 percent of those considered for early retirement. Last year, the board did not exercise its full authority, selecting just 27 colonels, 18 percent of those considered, according to Manpower and Reserve Affairs officials. Even if the FY14 board were to exercise its full authority, it could only force 26 officers to leave the service, one fewer than last year.
For lieutenant colonels, an estimated 82 will be considered this year, down from an estimated 202 who were to be considered at last year’s board. It was not immediately clear how many lieutenant colonels were actually considered or selected in fiscal 2013, but the board would have been authorized to select up to 60 lieutenant colonels for a forced early retirement. This year, the most the board could select is 24, if it exercises its full authority.
How many officers actually go before the board, and whether it exercises its full authority, depends on two factors: how many officers voluntarily leave the service and whether a new drawdown target will force the service to involuntarily separate more Marines.
By the time the SERB convenes, on or about Dec. 3 at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., the number of Marines actually considered could drop significantly as officers volunteer to leave the service. By doing so they avoid the SERB as long as they agree to leave uniform before Sept. 1, 2014. While there is typically no going back once an application to retire early is submitted, it does provide Marines with more certainty regarding their exit plans. That can help as they plan to begin a new career. On the other hand, they preclude themselves from the chance of clearing the board and serving longer in uniform, if that is their desire.
Meanwhile, drawdown plans have shifted significantly. During last year’s board, the drawdown still called for an active component of 182,000 Marines by 2017. Amid continuing Defense Department austerity measures, however, that target has shifted. The new goal is to get down to 174,000 Marines by 2018. . The additional year to hit manpower targets will lessen some of the negative effects of the deeper manpower cuts, but it remains unclear if the service will be forced to separate more Marines involuntarily.
To be eligible for the SERB, colonels must have served at least four years in rank. Lieutenant colonels must have failed selection to colonel two or more times. Additionally officers must not:
■ Be on a list recommended for promotion;
■ Be approved for voluntary retirement;
■ Be required by law to involuntarily retire in fiscal year 2014 or 1015;
■ Have previously been considered by a SERB.
Like promotion selection boards, Marines who desire to remain in uniform must ensure their official military personnel files are complete and up to date.