Today, Marines entering the infantry field spend nine weeks at the School of Infantry, learning the basics of their trade before hitting the fleet.

But in a future Marine Corps, where small units will be distributed over wide distances and junior Marines will be making more decisions, the nine weeks may not be enough initial training, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger said Wednesday.

“Infantry training will be longer,” Berger said during a hearing in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee about the readiness of the Navy and Marine Corps.

“The product of infantry training on the enlisted side will be at a higher level than what we are producing right now,” Berger added.

Berger envisions the future of the Marine Corps as smaller, lighter and more mobile, a force capable of deploying in new formations in the littorals of any future battlefield.

The Corps, deployed in small widely dispersed expeditionary advanced bases, will form a skirmish line, acting as the “eyes and ears” of the joint force, while still capable of providing a deadly punch or denying enemy ships from moving freely.

Much like how current Marine captains commanding companies are asked to make decisions that previously were made by lieutenant colonels commanding battalions, the future distributed force will see platoons, squads and possibly even fire teams making decisions formerly reserved for company-level leadership, Berger said at the hearing.

The current infantry training model, where a Marine spends nine weeks at the School of Infantry then is sent to the fleet to have their training completed by platoon sergeants, will simply not create units capable of making those high-level decisions, Berger said.

“We need to get to that higher level because they are going to be more distributed, we are going to rely on them to make higher level decisions,” Berger said.

Marine Corps Training and Education Command has not yet responded to questions asking for more details about what the Marine Corps is considering and when those plans may be put into action.

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