I received this paper on email and thought it brought up some
eye-opening points. Many non-Adjutants think it is just whining
and will keep thinking that as their administators leave the Corps
at the cyclic rate, bleeding the Marine Corps of an important
Fact: There are about 120% of needed 1st and 2nd lieutenant
0180s in the Marine Corps today.
Fact: There are about 79% of needed captain 0180s in the
Marine Corps today.
Fact: 0180s are atritting about two times faster than
other MOSs at the end of their initial commitment.
The following are reasons the adjutants within the 1st FSSG
feel 0180s are leaving the Marine Corps at a rapid rate.
YOUR INITIAL DRIVE TO BECOME AN ADJ
You are getting 2ndLts that have the MOS 0180 as their 5th,
10th, or even 24th choice of MOS—rarely is it in the top three
for anyone. This, we believe, is due to:
a. Advocacy (no one “sells” the MOS or seems
enthusiastic about it)
b. Reputation (“ too close to the flagpole,” “shuffle
paper,” “the longest hours with no appreciation”)
c. Perception of a non-combat arms choice...when
almost all SPCs have combat arms MOSs
Bottom line is that there are few of us that chose this
career path, and perhaps even if there were an advocate or SPC
at TBS for this field, the MOS would still be low on people’s
list. The perception is that this MOS is for bottom feeders,
when the opposite should be the case—Adjs need to be smarter,
more persistent, and more dedicated than other officers in the
unit are. We become the go-to guy/gal on any and all matters
pertaining to the Corps--Fitreps, promotions, protocol, etc.,
PREPARING YOU TO BE AN ADJ
Expectations. You are expected, with six months in
the USMC, to know all. Most Adjs walk in to their job
not even knowing what the role of the S4 is. Or the difference
between a NAM and NCM. Or that 0151s are different in
their capabilities than 0121s. Yet you are expected to
be the duty expert on your battalion and MOS. Preparation
to meet this expectation is nonexistent.
Education. PA school, to put it bluntly, is a paid
vacation. It teaches punctuation and the standard naval
letter format. For those who have no experience in the
USMC, they are unsure what concepts to really focus on and what
questions to ask. The average graduating grade is about
95%, which tells us that they are teaching what people already
know and it is TOO EASY. Therefore, when a new adj gets
to their 1st Bn, they are completely unprepared for the job
Old Role of an Adj: Four years ago, before consolidated
admin, it was true that you could put basically any 9916 in
a Bn Adj position and it would work (0180s out of school were/are
no better than any untrained 9916 anyway). You were not
any better off using a school-trained 0180 in that billet, due
to 1. Inadequate training at PA school and 2. The
job description of a Bn Adj: managing the CO’s schedule, processing
paperwork, awards, and fitreps, and serving as the legal officer.
New Role of an Adj: Today, with consolidated admin, while
the personnel diary reporting function has physically moved
to a higher level, the adjutants are actually required to have
a GREATER knowledge than before! Manpower moved to the
adjutant shop. The Bn Adj now is expected to intelligently
answer questions on very specific personnel issues and diary.
Lastly, the actual tracking, collection, and submission of this
information now falls upon the Adj shop in the absence of a
personnel shop. And all these additional responsibilities
without additional people or additional training.
Our recommendation is that the Adj school focus on the following
a. A FULL legal course
b. Manpower and operations
c. In-depth MCTFS concepts and diary reporting
d. OJT/shadowing another Bn Adj in the area for
a few days
e. Time management and real-world applications (i.e.
SIR/PCRs, NJPs, protocol, etc.)
THE JOB ITSELF
Hours. The job chews you up and spits you out.
Most Adjs work 12 hour days, with no lunch and no “thanks for
your hard work” at the end of a day, let alone a formal award
at the end of a tour.
As one Adj here in the FSSG put it, “When others are getting
off of work at 1630 and you still have three hours work to do;
when you've processed the second NAM for the same officer in
less than six months and you've received no recognition; when
you've just taken on your fourth collateral duty in the middle
of planning the Ball, Change of Command, or a retirement ceremony;
when you've done all this and receive no job satisfaction in
return, it's no wonder that we are leaving the Corps in droves.”
Rank. The T/Os used to show the Battalion Adj billet
as requiring an 03 fill. Due, I am sure, to grade shaping
and the unavailability of Capts, the decision was made at higher
HQ to now make this a Lt billet. So you are now a boot
2ndLt in a Bn staff full of captains and Company Commanders
that far outrank you. Your XO’s support, or lack thereof,
makes or breaks you.
Additionally, you are expected, as the junior person on
the staff, to take on numerous collateral duties. These
collateral duties take up so much time that you have less time
to spend on your actual, fit-rep defined job. You want
to do a good job, so you do not complain and, as a 2ndLt, do
not put your foot down and say “You are setting me up for failure,
Sir. I cannot take on this additional duty of (voting/
CFC/ FAO/ Visa/ Savings Bonds/ MWR/ Social officer/etc).”
As a result, our job becomes even more difficult to manage than
before. Instead of excelling in doing a few things well,
we just keep our head above water doing a multitude of tasks.
Solution? The responsibilities given to a Marine by
their Reporting Senior is something that HQMC obviously cannot
affect; however, the rank and experience level can be affected.
We strongly believe that the Bn Adj needs to be of the same
rank as the other battalion staff sections, usually captains
and sometimes 1stLts. The difficulty lies in the availability
of the grade. If we had all the captains we needed or
wanted, this dissertation would not be taking place. Perhaps
one answer is lat-moving people into the 0180 field as captains.
Also, within the FSSG, we try to always train new Adjs as legal
officers under a seasoned Adj before they take a battalion on
their own. This may be a recommendation for other units
Opportunities. Because the MOS is so short, an Adj
does NOT have the same opportunities as other Lts in other MOSs.
We do not have the opportunity to command a company. We
have been told point blank by senior personnel at HQMC that
we will not be considered for a lat move due to MOS shortages.
All the “good deal” schools or training seats are never offered
to us (even if we request, plead, and fight) because the Adj
is “irreplaceable” and “we cannot gap that billet for that long.”
Career Progression. Next, as a 2ndLt looks at their
career path progression, it looks like this:
|a. Bn Adj
|b. Group Adj/G1A/Ass’t Adj
|c. B-billet @ OSO or MCRD
|d. G1A/MSC Adj
|e. Formal School
| f. ????????????????
Basically, you feel you are destined to be a staff officer
for life, working primarily manpower until you retire.
And retire as a major, as it is rumored that promotion to LtCol
is very low and promotion to Col is impossible.
One Adj adds to this: “Being an Adj actually wouldn’t be
that hopeless—you could put up with the rigors of the job—if
you knew that you had a future and you were able to expand your
THE JOB MARKET IS GOOD
Need I say more?
This paper mainly speaks of the woes of being an adjutant.
Truth be told, there are many good sides. The majority
of the Adjs within the FSSG are actually proud of their role
in the small picture—the Battalion or Group. But they
are not happy enough to stay in the big picture, the Marine
Corps. We do not see the proverbial “light at the end
of the tunnel.” There is little job satisfaction and no
long-term goals to achieve.
So what can HQMC do about this??? How can they retain
more officers, specifically Adjutants, after their initial commitment?
More thoroughly train Adjutants in useful areas during their
MOS schooling. Give them more opportunities to deploy,
serve in a command billets, work in a ‘B’ billet, or lat move
after their initial tour. Delineate a strong, clear career
path for Adjs. In short, help us see that we have a future
as officers in the Marine Corps and set us up for success with
good schooling and the right rank in the right billets.