This article was originally written by Jonathan Weiss for SOFREP.com
The United States Marine Corps is realigning its strategy and warfighting capabilities. The future enemy is changing and the battle environment is shifting. The Marines are responding to this change by disbanding or shrinking some units and Military Occupational Specialties (MOS). One group, in particular, that is facing this abrupt change is the tank community, according to a recent report by Stars and Stripes.
This past Spring, Marine Commandant Gen. David Berger made the announcement that the M1A1 Abrams tank and M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicle would be going away. This is in accordance with the Marine Corps’ 10-year restructuring plan. The plan aims to make the Marines more agile and mobile. Ultimately, the restructuring’s goal is to turn the Marines into an elite expeditionary amphibious assault force.
Marines assigned to the four tanker-related jobs are being given the option to request another MOS within the Marines, to transfer branches, receive an early separation, or retire early, if they have 15 years of service.
In a statement last week, Col. Christopher Escamilla, Branch Head for Marine Corps Plans, Programs and Budget, said, “As we implement Force Design to modernize the force for naval expeditionary warfare, we will begin a surgical reduction in personnel and realignment of specific capabilities and units.”
Tank battalions aren’t the only group being slashed. Law enforcement units, artillery battalions, infantry battalions, combat logistics units, engineer support units, and aircraft squadrons are also being decommissioned or reduced in size. The Marines’ goal is by 2030 to have reduced the force by 12,000.
Many factors are behind this paradigm shift within the Marines. Col. Escamalia explained that, “These redesign efforts will enable the Marine Corps to reinvest time, money and resources into higher priority areas, which includes emerging technologies and significant changes in force structure.”
Some units are disbanded or reduced in size so that the Marines can reallocate resources without requesting additional funding from Congress.
The goal is to modernize the force by developing and implementing new technologies. These new changes are costly and require significant manpower.
By September 2020, within the tank community, 130 Marines had requested an MOS transfer, 46 a branch transfer, and six had requested early retirement.
There are still 650 Marines that have not submitted their requests. The Marines’ goal is to minimize involuntary separations as much as possible.
The Marine Corps has given tank battalion members and certain law enforcement personnel until 2022 to make a decision for their futures.