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Marine Corps Active Reserve program seeks applicants for upcoming board

The Marine Corps Active Reserve program is looking for qualified applicants for their upcoming officer accession board, which is scheduled to convene May 17.


4/22/2010 By Maj. Paul Greenberg , Marine Forces Reserve

In accordance with requirements and references contained in Marine Corps Administrative Message 136/10, active and reserve component Marine Corps warrant officers, lieutenants, captains and select majors are eligible to apply.

The Active Reserve program is comprised of a small cadre of about 2,200 Marines, primarily seasoned officers and staff noncommissioned officers. This team is instrumental in the mobilization and deployment of reserve units and the day-to-day operations of Marine Forces Reserve.

AR Marines enjoy the same pay, medical care and retirement benefits as their active component counterparts. AR officers qualify for a federal retirement at 20 years of active duty or may continue serving, depending on promotion and standard service limitations.

The only real difference between active component and the AR program is the AR Program’s Title 10 mandate that stipulates active duty service must be performed in support of the reserve component.

Officers in the AR program are stationed across the globe, but a majority of billets are at Headquarters Marine Corps in Washington, D.C. and Quantico, Va., as well as at Marine Forces Reserve Headquarters in New Orleans.

There are currently about 350 officers in the AR program representing 16 military occupational specialties.

Selection to the AR program is competitive for officers. Typically, less than 25 percent of applicants make the cut. Selection is, at present, based primarily on the applicant’s MOS and their past performance and fitness as a leader of Marines.

“I was drilling in the SMCR when I applied,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Ryan, a CH-46 helicopter pilot who left active duty after serving for nine years. “I was in the civilian world, and I really just missed being a Marine. There was no return to active duty board at the time, so I applied to AR program.”

Ryan was accepted and entered the program in 2001. Since that time he has worked as operations officer for Marine Aircraft Group 42, Detachment B in Atlanta, Ga., and as the as the MFR G-3/5 operations officer in New Orleans.

“I recommend the AR program because I think it’s a great experience for Marines who want to stay connected to what’s going on in the Corps,” said Ryan. “It’s a logical cross-over. It enables you to stay in your career field and stay operationally engaged with your counterparts on active duty.”

“I’ve stayed in the AR program for a variety of reasons,” said Ryan. “The biggest thing for me is that you have more responsibilities and see a lot more things than on active duty. In the AR community, you help keep the (Select Marine Corps Reserve) focused and operationally relevant. The role of SMCR has changed since 9/11. People today join the Marine Reserves to go out and do stuff, to deploy and remain a Marine. Active Reserve officers are the conduit from a planning standpoint. In addition to mobilizing reserve units for OIF and OEF, we have theater security cooperation exercises like LF CARAT (Landing Force Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training) and the teams we provide to the Marine Corps Tactical Advisory Group. They send small units of reserve Marines out to conduct training packages to partner nations in various combatant commander (areas of responsibility) in AFRICOM (U.S. Africa Command) and PACOM (U.S. Pacific Command), and we’re working on sending some to CENTCOM (U.S. Central Command).”

The FY 10-02 board, which convenes in May, is primarily looking for aviators. Officers of any MOS are welcome to apply, but those with specialties identified in MARADMIN 136/10 are most competitive for selection. The program seeks candidates with a high degree of experience and expertise within their specialties.

Officers of the following rank and MOS are highly encouraged to apply:

Captain/Major 0302, Infantry
Captain/Major 0403, Logistics
Captain/Major 7523/7557/7562/7563/7565/7566 (various aviation fields)
Captain 0180, Adjutant
Captain 0202, Intelligence
Captain 1302, Combat Engineer
Captain 0602, Communications
Captain 3404, Financial Management
Warrant Officer 0170, Administration
Warrant Officer 6004, Aircraft Maintenance
Warrant Officer 6502, Aviation Ordnance

Selectees incur a three-year commitment at their first duty station and will typically be eligible for rotation at three or four years.

The same permanent change of station rules and service limitation criteria for active component Marines also apply in the AR program.

The AR program also provides the opportunity to attend seminar professional military education programs and/or full-length PME schools at both the company grade and field grade officer levels.

AR officers may be selected to attend full-time resident PME at Marine Corps University in Quantico, Va. Additionally, they can apply to joint resident PME courses at various locations throughout the United States. To enhance professional growth and chances for promotion, officers can both complete seminar Marine Corps PME and apply to attend a resident PME course.

Many of the joint services’ PME programs have a master’s degree option in conjunction with a certificate of course completion.

Some programs, such as the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, have cooperation agreements with civilian universities, wherein students take classes at both the military college and at a nearby civilian state university simultaneously. This will earn them a master’s degree from the civilian school, such as Kansas State University.

Regardless of which joint school AR officers are selected to attend, they all come back to the Marine Corps Reserve with different perspectives that expand the level of expertise in the reserve community.

“As senior field grade Active Reserve officers, we must be able to critically think and analytically attack solutions to various challenges,” said Lt. Col. Francis Piccoli, a career AR officer who is currently a student at the U.S. Air Force’s Air War College.

“Top level school certainly provides a great basis for one to develop, enhance or enrich these cognitive skills. Second, top level school broadens one's horizon to think and act in a strategic manner, which is so very important for field grade Active Reserve officers who are responsible for administering the Marine Corps Reserve or who are responsible for integrating the Marine Corps Reserve in the Total Force Marine Corps. Third, it provides the Active Reserve program with an intellectual capacity that enables superb decision making on a plethora of strategic and operational issues that affect the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and its relevance for the Total Force Marine Corps.”

Piccoli, who entered the AR program as a captain in 1998, spent several years at Headquarters, Marine Corps and most recently served as director of the Marine Forces Reserve Public Affairs Office in New Orleans from 2007 to 2009. He is on track to graduate from Air War College in June with a master’s degree in strategic studies and return to Marine Forces Reserve for another tour.

”The Active Reserve program has enabled me to serve in an active capacity in support of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve,” explained Piccoli. “I find tremendous personal and professional satisfaction in that. The Active Reserve program also offers a certain level of consistency and balance in life that I contend overshadows that of the active component. For example, most of our senior field grade billets are in the Northern Virginia, D.C. or the New Orleans area. In fact, in my 12 years on the program, six were spent in the Northern Virginia and the D.C. area and five were in the Greater New Orleans area. I've lived in two houses in the past nine years.”

Because the Marine Corps has reached its goal of 202,000 active component Marines ahead of the fiscal year 2011 benchmark, the AR program is the best bet for those veteran officers who have gotten out and want to come back into the Marine Corps and work toward an active duty retirement.

The application deadline for the upcoming AR accession board is May 3.

For more detailed information about the application procedure, see Marine Corps Administration Message 136/10 at: http://www.usmc.mil/news/messages/Pages/MARADMIN136-10.aspx.