Overnight Defense & National Security — A new plan to treat Marines 'like human beings'

Overnight Defense & National Security — A new plan to treat Marines 'like human beings'
© Associated Press/Jack Dempsey

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The Marine Corps is moving away from its previously held recruitment and retention goals, targeting individual talents rather than massing in high volumes of personnel.

We’ll share details on what’s changed, plus the repercussions of the submarine accident last month and what GOP lawmakers are demanding of the Pentagon’s top officer.

For The Hill, I’m Ellen Mitchell. Write to me with tips: emitchell@thehill.com.

Let’s get to it.

 

Overhauling recruitment

The Marine Corps on Wednesday released a new plan detailing significant changes to recruitment and retention, focusing on individual talents instead of pushing high volumes of personnel.

“The most important element of this report is the individual Marine,” General David H. Berger, commandant of the Marine Corps, said in a press release. “Transitioning to a talent management system will enable us to better harness and develop the unique skills and strengths of our Marines, improve the performance of our units in competition and combat, and ensure that we remain ‘most ready when the Nation is least ready,’ today and into the future.”

Details on the plan: The plan, called "Talent Management 2030," redesigns fundamental aspects of the Marine personnel system. Key elements include retooling how individuals with special skills can join the service without starting in lower ranks, incorporating a talent marketplace to give Marines a say in the trajectory of their careers and adopting tools to improve the efficiency of the talent management system.

No more 'recruit and replace': For the past 35 years, the Marine Corps discharged approximately 75 percent of first-term Marines every year and recruited an equal number of replacements, according to the plan.

Berger said the service essentially adopted a “recruit and replace” personnel model rather than an “invest and retain” one after decades of working in a system that has prioritized massing a “young, physically tough, replaceable force” that was “not all that highly skilled,” The Washington Post reported.

He also said that the Marine Corps will have to “treat people like human beings instead of inventory.”

What’s still unclear: While it is unclear whether the Marines will shrink to accommodate the more focused recruitment plan, Berger said they are "in the market" for talent and are working to retain personnel, such as increasing the duration of parental leave.

Berger previously signaled changes last year in his contemporary plan Force Design 2030, which sought to cut the service to 174,000 Marines by 2030. It is unclear how much the new plan will cost.

Read the full story here.

 

GOP presses Milley over military moves

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. <span class=Mark MilleyMark MilleyTrump goes after Woodward, Costa over China Russian military buildup puts Washington on edge Overnight Defense & National Security — Russian military moves cause for concern MORE speaks during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021." width="645" height="363" data-delta="3" />

Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee are pressing Gen. Mark Milley on the cost of military initiatives focused on issues like climate change and white nationalism within its ranks, questioning whether the issues are being prioritized over readying a lethal fighting force. 

In an Oct. 21 letter to Milley signed by 12 Republicans and obtained by The Hill, they alleged that the Department of Defense was more worried about combating issues like critical race theory than training and recruiting forces.

The grievances: “At each hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, we acknowledge that the world is a more dangerous place than ever in our lifetime and reaffirm our committee’s steadfast support for the 2018 National Defense Strategy,” committee ranking member Sen. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense & National Security — Senate looks to break defense bill stalemate Senate GOP moving toward deal to break defense bill stalemate Overnight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table MORE (R-Okla.) and 11 other senators wrote.

“Yet today, efforts to recruit, train, and equip a ready and lethal force often appear to take a back seat to the Department of Defense’s (DOD) ‘Climate Adaptation Plan,’ ‘Countering Extremism Working Group,’ and discussions of critical race theory. DOD touts its ‘Climate Adaptation Plan,’ while a viable counterterrorism strategy in lieu of our presence in Afghanistan after a chaotic exit goes wanting,” they continued. 

Other criticisms: The Republican senators also criticized a Pentagon initiative aimed at weeding out domestic extremists and white supremacists within the military ranks. Earlier this year, Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinRubio blocks quick votes on stalemated defense bill Overnight Defense & National Security — Senate looks to break defense bill stalemate Oversight GOP eyes records on Afghanistan withdrawal MORE said in a memo that a working group within the department would be established to review and update their definition of extremism and provide new screening for potential members of domestic extremist groups. 

“All this is taking place despite clear data that pegs the number of extremists in our military as miniscule,” the Republican senators wrote. "Several members of the Senate Armed Services Committee have solicited feedback directly from service members about the working group and have also shared growing concern about the focus directed towards social issues and away from lethality.”

Who signed on?: The letter was signed by Sens. Deb FischerDebra (Deb) Strobel FischerOvernight Defense & National Security — A new plan to treat Marines 'like human beings' Republicans press Milley over perceived progressive military agenda Senate Republicans raise concerns about TSA cyber directives for rail, aviation MORE (Neb.), Tommy Tuberville (Ala.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisOvernight Defense & National Security — A new plan to treat Marines 'like human beings' Republicans press Milley over perceived progressive military agenda Gun control group alleges campaign finance violations in lawsuit against NRA MORE (N.C.), Rick Scott (Fla.), Mike RoundsMike RoundsOvernight Defense & National Security — A new plan to treat Marines 'like human beings' Republicans press Milley over perceived progressive military agenda Jean Rounds, wife of South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds, dies from cancer MORE (S.D.), Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerHillicon Valley — Chinese disinformation accounts removed GOP resistance to Biden FCC nominee could endanger board's Democratic majority Bottom line MORE (Miss.), Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanGOP resistance to Biden FCC nominee could endanger board's Democratic majority Man charged with threatening Alaska senators pleads not guilty China conducts combat readiness drill after US congressional delegation arrives in Taiwan MORE (Alaska), Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonConservatives target Biden pick for New York district court GOP anger with Fauci rises Cotton swipes at Fauci: 'These bureaucrats think that they are the science' MORE (Ark.), Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnConservatives target Biden pick for New York district court Senators seek to curb counterfeit toys and goods sold online China draws scrutiny over case of tennis star Peng Shuai MORE (Tenn.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstBiden picks former Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield to Iowa's USDA post Biden has just 33 percent approval rating in Iowa poll Overnight Defense & National Security — A new plan to treat Marines 'like human beings' MORE (Iowa) and Kevin CramerKevin John CramerAdvocates see pilot program to address inequalities from highways as crucial first step The Memo: Rising costs a growing threat for Biden GOP senator: Decisions on bills not made based on if they hurt or help Trump or Biden MORE (N.D.).

Read more details here.

Sub leaders fired over underwater collision 

The Navy on Thursday fired the leaders of USS Connecticut, the submarine that struck an undersea mountain in the Indo-Pacific last month.

Commanding Officer Cmdr. Cameron Aljilani, Executive Officer Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Cashin and Chief of the Boat Master Chief Sonar Technician Cory Rodgers were all relieved “due to loss of confidence,” according to a U.S. 7th Fleet statement.

7th Fleet head Vice Adm. Karl Thomas “determined sound judgement, prudent decision-making and adherence to required procedures in navigation planning, watch team execution and risk management could have prevented the incident.”

Limited details: The statement did not include further details on how the command failed to prevent the accident.

The Oct. 2 incident, during which the nuclear-powered fast attack submarine grounded on an uncharted seamount, injured 11 crew members.

The Navy hasn’t fully explained how the mistake happened or revealed the full damage to the vessel, which is currently in Guam for assessment.

It is unknown whether a command investigation into the incident, which was completed this week, will be made public.

Read more here.

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

 

WHAT WE'RE READING

 

That’s it for today. Check out The Hill’s defense and national security pages for the latest coverage. See you Friday.