MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
In his book, “First to Fight: An Inside View of the U.S. Marine Corps,” Marine legend Lt. Gen. Victor H. Krulak recounted numerous attempts throughout Marine Corps history to merge the Corps with the Army or do away with it altogether. According to Lt. Gen. Krulak, the Corps survived and continues to thrive today for one reason; because the American people want it that way.
Referencing Lt. Gen. Krulak’s words, Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, spoke of this connectedness or “special alchemy,” and how the Marine Corps can continue to maintain it, while speaking to recruiting leaders at the National Commander’s Conference in San Diego Oct. 18.
“We have a connectedness to the American people that no other service has,” said Gen. Amos. “A diverse force helps guarantee our connectedness to the American people.”
As the populations of minority groups in the United States continue to rise at a faster pace than Caucasians, Marine Corps Recruiting Command must reflect this change as it recruits the newest generation of Marines and officers. According to Gen. Amos, doing this is crucial if the Corps wants to maintain its special relationship with the American people. Since taking over as commandant, Gen. Amos has made it a top priority for MCRC to recruit a representative force. Special attention is being focused on officer accessions, where diversity lags behind that of enlisted recruiting.
“Those young enlisted Marines that come from a diverse background deserve to look up and see an officer corps that is reasonably representative of them,” said Gen. Amos. “A diverse Marine Corps is the end state. That’s what success looks like.”
Throughout fiscal year 2011, officer selection officers worked hard to turn the commandant’s envisioned end state into reality. Their work yielded across the board success, as FY11’s group of officers accessed was the most diverse in a decade.
“We increased diversity of this year’s candidate pool in all of our commissioning programs,” said Lt. Col. Chester McMillon, head of officer programs, MCRC.
Especially promising was the increased accessions of African-Americans, one of the most underrepresented groups among officers. In FY11, OSOs recruited 85 African-American officers, a near 42 percent increase over the 60 accessed in FY10.
Building upon FY11’s successes, MCRC has taken several steps to reinforce the command’s commitment to the diversity mission.
To help recruit a representative officer corps, MCRC adjusted the racial and ethnic composition of its OSOs. Assigning four additional African-American OSOs and one additional Hispanic OSO, MCRC now fields a group of officer selection officers that more accurately reflect the face of the nation and more importantly can rapidly connect with diverse groups of qualified individuals.
Marine Corps Recruiting Command also began using an All Community Approach to engage prospects and influencers during major events in FY11.
The All Community Approach is a community-encompassing engagement effort that uses a major event, such as the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Basketball Tournament and Marine Week St. Louis, as an opportunity to engage prospects, influencers and community leaders about what the Marine Corps stands for and career opportunities available to highly qualified individuals.
Marine Corps Recruiting Command has also placed increased focus on finding individuals fit to receive Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarships. One avenue the Corps is taking is participating in the Infinite Scholar Program. The ISP is a network of national college scholarship fairs geared towards highly qualified men and women from diverse backgrounds. The events are manned by OSOs who provide students information on scholarship and career opportunities with the Marines.
Also aiding the push for scholarships is the revamped Frederick C. Branch Leadership Scholarship process. The Branch Scholarship is an NROTC scholarship available to qualified students attending any one of 17 participating historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) or cross-town affiliates.
Rather than relying solely on an NROTC programs’ Marine officer instructor to find candidates for the scholarship, recruiting station executive officers now forward the packages of regular Marine-option NROTC scholarship non-selects to MCRC for the Branch Scholarship selection board, giving these highly qualified prospects another shot to receive scholarships.
Through the command’s extensive efforts, MCRC continues make progress toward the Commandant’s goal of accessing a diverse and representative Marine Corps without changing the highly competitive standards the Corps is known for.
“As we look to the diversity challenge, my intent for you is to absolutely not lower standards,” said Gen. Amos. “It will not happen on my watch as 35th Commandant.”