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Changes to ECFCP help drawdown, promotions

By Lance Cpl. Brendan Roethel | | November 26, 2013

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While limits on the maximum number of years Marines may serve at a particular rank before being separated from the Marine Corps remain unchanged, policy revisions have altered the rules on how those limits are applied. The changes were detailed in Marine administrative message 585/13, signed Nov. 1, which outlines the Enlisted Career Force Controls Program.
 
Facing increasing drawdown targets, initial plans to shrink the Corps went from 182,100 personnel by 2016, to the current goal of 174,000 by 2017. This additional year to hit the Corps’ drawdown target allows the Marine Corps to draw-down at a steadier rate until the end of 2017.
 
While the ECFC limit for sergeants is 10 years, those who are non-competitive may no longer make it that long in uniform. In years past, sergeants who   were passed once by a selection board were granted extensions to serve up to 10 years, allowing them to get a second look by a board. Extensions can still be granted, but it is no longer automatic. If a Marine has been passed over once and a review of their record and their commander’s assessment show they remain competitive, he could be granted an extension, if not they will be sent home at the end of their contract.
 
In 2011, the Corps reduced the ECFC limit for sergeants from 13 years to 10. The change in policy sped how quickly sergeants went before selection boards. That was good for more competitive noncommissioned officers wanting to pick up staff sergeant, but it also sped the departure of those who were passed for promotion.
 
With more non-competitive sergeants being removed from the ranks, and efforts made to tempt staff sergeants out of the Marine Corps with early retirement incentives, upward mobility is expected   to improve.
 
“Long gone are the days when multiple deployments would get you promoted,” said Sgt. Maj. Michael Barrett, the sergeant major of the Marine Corps, during a brief in July 2012. “If you are not well-rounded, you will not get promoted.”
 
The recent change in policy aims to avoid penalizing Marines who were asked to serve in the war effort rather than completing a Special Duty Assignment, but also mentions the importance of completing an SDA to remain competitive for promotion.
 
“To be competitive, a Marine should try to have more than just deployment experience,” said Gunnery Sgt. Orion Murray, the career planner for Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. “Marines should also have time as a recruiter, drill instructor, Marine security guard or another special duty assignment.”


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