Marines looking to move up to the E-8 and E-9 paygrades can expect slightly better opportunities when the senior enlisted selection board convenes at the beginning of fiscal 2014.
Overall allocations for the FY14 Sergeant Major through Master Sergeant Staff Noncommissioned Officer Selection Board varied only slightly. But fewer MOSs will be closed to those hoping to pin on rank as sergeant major, master gunnery sergeant, first sergeant or master sergeant, according to a Marine Corps Times analysis of statistics released in Marine administrative message 415/13, signed Aug. 22.
The selection board convenes Oct. 23 for about eight weeks to consider gunnery sergeants for promotion to first sergeant or master sergeant, and to consider first and master sergeants for promotion to sergeant major and master gunnery sergeant.
For Marines moving to the E-8 paygrade, just seven military occupational specialties will be closed, compared to 12 last year. Marines moving to the E-9 paygrade will find 21 specialties closed, compared to 26 last year. While there will be a net decrease of two allocations for first sergeants and master sergeants, for a total of 694 slots, a net increase of 17 allocations is expected for sergeant major and master gunnery sergeant, for a total of 277.
The modest fluctuations are likely due to the fact that senior enlisted Marines remain relatively unaffected by manpower cuts during the drawdown. Because there are relatively few Marines at the top end of the enlisted structure, and many of those billets are tied to structure that is not being trimmed during the push to cut the Corps to 182,100 personnel by 2017, the E-8 and E-9 communities are unlikely to see drastic manpower reductions.
The overall decrease in the number of closed MOSs, however, could reflect stricter policies that no longer allow E-9s to receive waivers that take them past 30 years of service to complete a final tour.
Allowing Marines to extend past 30 years created a trickle-down effect that contributed to a frustrating promotion backlog for gunnery sergeants. The change in policy should give more junior enlisted Marines a chance to move up.