QUANTICO, VA, UNITED STATES --
Manpower Management's Enlisted Assignments team is rapidly improving the process of retaining and assigning Marines to units and unique billets. Gone are the days of Marines simply being told where they’re going next. Now, the monitors and career planners of MMEA coach Marines through the process of seeking opportunities for further service.
The Marine Corps published Talent Management in November 2021, with a subsequent update in March 2023, establishing that the Marine Corps’ processes and approach to personnel and talent management were not suited to today’s needs. MMEA responded by modernizing the retention and assignment process to craft a more mature force.
In the past, Marines were discouraged from contacting their monitors and often walked away from the orders process frustrated with how little input they had in their future.
“I used to think my first sergeant issued orders. For my second and third duty stations, my first sergeant handed me a piece of paper saying I was to report to 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, 2nd Marine Division,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Brandon Brooks, the 0369 and 0399 primary military occupational specialty monitor with MMEA. “After my tour with V22, my new first sergeant said I was going to Chesapeake to be a Security Forces Instructor. I had no idea what a monitor was, never heard of one!”
Presently, MMEA’s goal is to increase trust and collaboration between monitors, career planners, Marines, and Marines’ leadership. This is accomplished by heightened transparency, improving engagements with Marines by asking the right questions, and active listening. The most effective interactions are when Marines and their leadership reciprocate these traits. Leaders should coach Marines and have conversations about their future before the Marine speaks with their Monitor.
MMEA encourages Marines to contact their monitor and talk about their future goals in the Marine Corps. Monitors make themselves accessible through several communication means and travel throughout the year to have face-to-face conversations with the Marines in their populations. The monitors view each Marine as an individual with unique skillsets and talents that are invaluable to the Marine Corps.
“Today’s culture at MMEA is to actively reach out, listen, and advise our Marines on future goals and aspirations, and work hard to help them meet that goal and meet the goals of the organization; if we can meet both goals at the same time, that is a win,” said Brooks.
Monitors are hand selected from their military occupational specialty community. They are screened based on MOS credibility, character, and the desire to positively impact the Marine Corps. The monitors within MMEA issue an average of 55,000 orders per fiscal year. Each set of orders factors the needs and goals of the individual Marine, health of the community, leadership inputs, and family requirements to ensure the right Marine is assigned to the right billet, at the right time.
“We receive thousands of requests per month, and we work hard to ensure each request is processed with the speed and attention it deserves.” Gunnery Sgt. Darrick Proffitt, a career planner with MMEA.
The positive changes contributed to MMEA surpassing the Marine Corps’ retention goals for the 0311, 0331, and 0341 communities in the last two fiscal years. This accomplishment is attributed to the infantry monitors who worked tirelessly to connect with the Marines in their communities.
Beyond the culture shift, MMEA is improving systems, processes, and policies to better allow career planners and monitors to serve Marines. A mover’s questionnaire allows Marines who are set to execute permanent change of station orders an opportunity to communicate their preferences and goals, both personal and professional, to their monitor. The MMEA dashboard informs Marines of their MOS’s population health, manning goals, and more. These steps aim to empower Marines to make informed career moves that align with their ultimate goals.
The process for reenlistment is being streamlined, making it easier for Marines to continue service. Through programs like Commandant’s Retention Program, Marines are prescreened and conditionally approved for reenlistment. These programs remove the cumbersome administrative tasks previously associated with reenlisting. Additionally, MMEA brought in high performing career planners to action packages. The career planners of MMEA process an average of 30,000 reenlistment, extension, and lateral move packages per fiscal year. Even with the high volume, career planners meticulously and quickly take care of each package.
“We receive thousands of requests per month, and we work hard to ensure each request is processed with the speed and attention it deserves,” said Gunnery Sgt. Darrick Proffitt, a career planner with MMEA. “These aren’t random screens in our systems. These are Marines’ lives and families we affect. We know their future depends on our ability to serve them in a timely manner.”
Changing personnel management in the Marine Corps isn’t an overnight process. However, the monitors, career planners, and Marines of MMEA are working daily to improve Marines’ experiences with the retention and assignments process.
When asked what advice he’d give to Marines, Brooks said, “Stay proactive in your career, it’s your future. Always reach out to the monitor. Do not let anyone tell you that you are not allowed to talk to us or reach out to us.”
The Marine Corps needs capable and experienced Marines to keep the force lethal and ready for tomorrow’s fight. Marines who desire to stay in and continue the Marine Corps legacy should reach out to their monitor or unit career planner for more information.