Neller: Marines may scale back grunt population for more cyber warriors

    Network it out: Cyber Network Specialists help Marines communicate at PMINT command Marine Corps cyber
    (U.S. Marine Corps photo by: Staff Sgt. Terika S. King/Relased)

    During an event in DC this week, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller announced plans to  scale back the infantry population or operational forces — in order to make room for an “increase in its cyber-warfare community.”

    He added there would be an emphasis on “cutting from the most junior ranks. “Once we determine what are the capabilities we need and what are the types of Marines we need to do that, you know, those are not going to be [privates first class] and lance corporals over time.”

    These dramatic changes to the service are expected to be in place by the end of next year, according to Neller said the changes are coming partly because the Marine Corps finds itself facing a “high operational tempo” and “constant global threats not consistent with an interwar period.”

    Last month, Neller published a 13-page fragmentary order which called for an expansion in the fields of:  information operations, cyber and electronic warfare.

    Neller said the Marine Corps would beef up these areas within the three Marine expeditionary forces and within the Marine operational forces, while paring down some other units significantly.  The development over the next couple of years of these career fields will make the service “more modern and capable.”

    In order to make all this happen, the Corps can either:  ask for an “end strength increase” after several years of drawing down or “restructure existing forces” for a new mission. Neller said he would probably know by this summer, how many cyber Marines the Corps needed.

    “To grow a cyber Marine is a two-year pipeline, and we’re in the process of growing our cyber capability. And the course that they have to go through has got a high attrition rate, so we’ve got to remission those people. So that’s part of this talent management,” Neller added.

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