FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Maryland --
According to an upcoming Marine administrative message, the Squad Leader Development Program will begin in 2015.
The program will seek to improve and streamline how infantry squad leaders are trained, educated, and assigned within active component infantry battalions. The intent is to ensure our squad leaders are prepared for the challenges of operating in today’s complex environments.
“This program is designed to get our young leaders better trained and educated, so that they are ready for any and all situations that they might experience today and in the future,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Justin Aiken, an infantry advocate and Infantry occupational field sponsor.
The program is sponsored by Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Bailey, the Deputy Commandant, Plans, Policies and Operations and has been strongly endorsed by all three active component division commanders.
Individuals who are qualified are given an opportunity to shape their career path, receive prioritized training and education, and will have a guaranteed assignment as an infantry squad leader.
The initial concept is that one squad leader per platoon within every deploying infantry battalion will be part of the program. The first year the program will only accept 100 applicants with rapid expansion in the following years. The desired end state is to have all squad leaders take part.
Marines selected to the program can volunteer for one of two career tracks.
The first track will route him to Sergeant’s Course followed by the Infantry Small Unit Leader’s Course and then back to a deploying infantry battalion for assignment as a squad leader.
The second track will route that individual to complete a shortened term as a combat instructor. Upon completion of Combat Instructor School, these Marines will have a shortened tour of no more than 30 months, while still receiving full special duty pay and bonus points.
Upon completion of their tour as a an instructor, completion of Sergeant’s Course and Infantry Small Unit Leader’s Course, they will be reassigned to an active duty deploying infantry battalion for assignment as a squad leader.
To apply for the program this year, Marines must be assigned to an active component infantry battalion and must have the primary military occupational specialty of 0311, 0331, 0341, 0351, 0352.
Marines wishing to enroll must have completed one of the following courses and all professional military education requirements for the rank of corporal: Advanced Infantryman Course, Advanced Machine Gunner Course, Advanced Mortarman Course, Advanced Assaultman Course, Advanced Anti-Armor Missleman Course or the Scout Sniper Basic Course.
Prospective students are required to be a noncommissioned officer at the time of application with a time in service window of three to five years. Marines applying must have 60 months of obligated service remaining on their contract or they will be required to reenlist or extend the current enlistment to meet this requirement.
The program supports the service’s capstone concept articulated in the Corp’s Expeditionary Force 21 concept. The program supports the concept’s vision by providing the Marine Corps’ small unit leaders with the tools to operate effectively in task-organized, distributed formations to counter growing threats in complex environments.
Expeditionary Force 21 emphasizes maximizing Marine Corps capabilities to meet the coming challenges around the globe with the recognition that small unit leaders are the backbone of the Corps.
“We want Marines, who love their job and want to continue to do it as long as possible,” said Aiken. “Being an infantry squad leader is the best job in the Marine Corps in my opinion, and we are looking for Marines that feel the same way as I do about it.”