This means a greater emphasis on getting the right Marines in the right positions, and this year manpower officials are trying something new.
In August, M&RA announced a voluntary submission period for Marines to put in for an SDA by Dec. 15, d etailed in Marine administrative message 415/16.
Eligible Marines who step up will be given assignment preference once the normal selection process begins in January, according to Col. Rudy Janiczek, head of the Enlisted Assignments Branch at M&RA.
"The reason that we did that is we like to see the Marines that want to do these duties come forward with more clarity to us as we look to make these assignments with what they would like to do," he said. "We felt that we needed to be more deliberate about it and give them an opportunity to step forward before we begin the annual selection process in earnest."
Giving Marines the chance for first priority in the billets of choice rather than being "voluntold" will go a long way towards front-loading the future force.
"The fact is if a Marine volunteers for a special duty assignment then he can request what he is interested in. After that period, when we start looking for individuals if we find them qualified, we will start making those assignments and we would rather a Marine go to a place they wanted to go," Brilakis said.
The period runs until Dec. 15, but Marines can still volunteer after that.
"This was just an opportunity that we put out to kind of remind them, 'hey, if you would like, tell us what your desires are and see,' said Sgt. Maj. Grant VanOostrom with M&RA. "It's about requirements and demands and how we can best fit your desires with what the Marine Corps needs."
Servicemen are paid by rank and years of service, as opposed to occupation, and this holds true for drill specialists. Even though it’s one of the more revered roles for non-commissioned officers, and only the most qualified are chosen, drill sergeants — as they’re typically called — don’t earn additional income for the position. The only bumps in pay come with promotions, incentives and each year in the Army.
Drill specialists hold the ranks of sergeant, staff sergeant or sergeant first class, and their pay is based on these ranks. In 2012, a sergeant earned $2,662 a month, or $31,944 a year with six years of service. A staff sergeant, on the other hand, earned $2,886 a month, or $34,632 a year, while a sergeant first class averaged $3,301 a month, or $39,612 a year. At eight years, monthly salaries increase to $2,845, $3,143 and $3,500, respectively, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
In addition to base pay, drill specialists are eligible for a housing allowance. Much like base pay, the additional pay is based on rank. The army affords sergeants either $609 or $812 a month for housing, depending on marital status. A staff sergeant receives either $677 or $903 a month, while a sergeant first class receives either $733 or $977 a month — both depending on marital status.
On top of the housing allowance, drill specialists are eligible for a subsistence allowance — basically, money for food. This money is to offset the cost of the servicemen’s food, not necessarily for the family. As of 2012, a sergeant, staff sergeant or sergeant first class receives an additional $348 a month.
All armed forces members are eligible for incentive pay. It’s awarded to soldiers based on their assignment. If, for example, a drill sergeant were subject to hostile fire, he’d earn imminent danger pay, which is an additional $225 a month. For hazardous duty, a sergeant earns an additional $190 a month, a staff sergeant earns an additional $215 a month and a sergeant first class earns an additional $240 a month.
About the Author
Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.
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