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Mustang opportunities decline slightly for enlisted Marines

Nov. 27, 2013 - 09:07PM   |  
Officer Candidate School
A Marine participates in a field exercise at Officer Candidates School aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. Slightly fewer enlisted Marines will be selected this year to train at the school. (Lance Cpl. Michael C. Guinto / Marine Corps)
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Slightly fewer Marines will be selected to go mustang this year, compared to fiscal year 2013, but enlisted-to-officer programs should remain healthy.

Slightly fewer Marines will be selected to go mustang this year, compared to fiscal year 2013, but enlisted-to-officer programs should remain healthy.

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Slightly fewer Marines will be selected to go mustang this year, compared to fiscal year 2013, but enlisted-to-officer programs should remain healthy.

A downsized Corps needs fewer officers, and that means there will be fewer opportunities for enlisted Marines to earn a college degree and a commission. But it’s not a steep decline, and Marine Corps Recruiting Command officials who administer E-to-O programs say enlisted Marines will continue to account for about one in 10 of the Corps’ new officers each year, despite the drawdown.

“The goal is still going to be 10 percent for the enlisted-to-officer programs,” said Maj. Stuart Fugler, an MCRC spokesman at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. “Last year’s accession mission was 1,400 officers; this year’s mission has not been approved by manpower, but is expected to be slightly lower.

The second of the three boards considering candidates for the fiscal 2014 E-to-O program just selected 35 Marines in all, according to Marine administrative message 612/13, signed Nov. 19. That includes 30 service members selected for the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program and five for the Enlisted Commissioning Program. The MECEP is for Marines who have not already completed a bachelor’s degree; ECP is for those who have. Marines selected for both programs attend Officer Candidates School, but those in MECEP must then go on to earn a college degree before receiving their commission.

The Marines recently selected to go mustang brings the total for the year to 65, with a third board slated for March 17. That is compared to 67 by the end of the second of three boards last year when 106 Marines were selected.

That means 41 Marines would have to be selected at the third and final board this year to be on par with last year, but MCRC officials do not expect that to be the case. How many will be selected remains unclear.

“The allocations for the third board have not yet been approved,” Fugler said.

While Recruiting Command’s goal is for enlisted Marines to account for about 10 percent of new commissions each year, the number of Marines selected for E-to-O programs is often less. Because there is a delay between selection and commissioning, especially for those who must first attend school, there is a slight glut of Marines in the pipeline. Many were selected for the commissioning programs before deeper-than-expected drawdown plans were formulated.

Last year, for example, while only 106 enlisted Marines were selected for the program, more than 150 enlisted Marines received a commission, many of whom were tapped to go officer in years past.

Marines interested in vying for a commission at the final E-to-O board of fiscal 2014’s programmust submit an application by Jan 17.

For enlisted Marines who have a college education in their sights or a degree under their belt, andwould welcome a bump in responsibility and pay, the E-to-O programs are an attractive option.

For guidance on how to apply, visit www.mcrc.marines.mil. On the right rail, select “Marine Officer,” then “Officer Programs.” There, Marines can browse information about any of the E-to-O programs, including sample applications.

Marines selected by the third board will be scheduled for the next available class at Officer Candidates School aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. Boards are meant to align with specific classes, meaning those selected by the third board will likely attend OCS beginning June 2 and graduate Aug. 8.

In years past, Marines tapped by a board would first attend college, then head to OCS after earning their degree. But in July 2011 the order was reversed as a cost-saving measure. Too many Marines who earned a degree were then unable to complete OCS. Marines typically have two chances to complete OCS if they become sick or injured during the first attempt.

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