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Department of Defense (USMC). Photo A556673

New Marine second lieutenants receive realistic field training at the Marine Carps Basil' School at Quantico, Virginia. Most new Marine officers after their commissioning attended the Basic School.

1968, enabled the Marine Corps to meet its officer goals."-

The noncommissioned officers' ranks expanded faster than the officers' and the Marine Corps as a whole. Between 1965 and 1968 the number of sergeants increased 95 percent and the number of corporals increased 101 percent. The rapid promotions needed to fill these billets drastically reduced the average length of service for noncommissioned officers. In 1965, more than 60 percent of sergeants had more than K) years service, while fewer than 8 percent had less than 6 years service. Almost 50 percent of corporals had more than four years of service and fewer than 15 percent had less than three years of service. In 1968, over 50 percent of all sergeants had less than four years service, and over 25 percent had less than three years. More than three-quarters of all corporals had less than three years of service, and over 95 percent had less than four. A large number ot these young NCOs achieved their rank while on their first tour in Vietnam.

Despite their short service, the newly promoted NCOs ot 1968 were not necessarily less qualified than their peers of 1965. While the earlier NCOs had more time in uniform, most had acquired all of their experience through peacetime service, whereas the young NCOs of the Vietnam era "gain[ed] a lot of experience at a very rapid rate and under combat conditions."^'

The loss ot experience in the face ot wartime demands was hardly new for the Marine Corps. In 1945, lieutenants averaged only one year of commissioned service, captains, two, and majors, three. By 30 June 1945, the enlisted ranks had increased over eightfold since .30 June 1942 and almost 24 times above the Marine enlisted strength on 30 June 1939. By the end of the war, few enlisted Marines of any rank had more than four years of service, and one with more than six years service would have been a rarity. Unlike World

*In the Enlisted Commissioning Program, promising enlisted Marines attended a 10-week Officer Candidate's Course. Graduates were commissioned a-s second lieutenants, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Captain Matthew G. McTiernan. who commanded Company I, 3d Battalion. 3d Marines, remembered that in July 196S the 3d Marine Division had started a policy ot sending non-infancry first and second lieutenants to infantry companies to serve 90 days. The intention was to make up for the shortage of infantry officers then existing in the division. He recalled that during Operation Thor in July, two of his platoon officers were a former motor transport officer and a former communications officer and that both men acquitted themselves well. Capt Matthew G. McTiernan, Comments on draft, n.d. (Dec96] (Vietnam Comment File).

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