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Shortage of Marine Corps acquisition officers prompts policy change of profound and lasting impact.

On March 27, the deputy commandant of the Marine Corps for aviation presented the 2005 Marine Aviation Detachment Patuxent River Semper Fidelis Award to the PMA-234 JATO (Jammer Technique Authorization Team). Part of the citation reads, "Navy and Marine Corps Squadrons fielded new capabilities in only a few weeks--an unprecedented feat when compared to the years it has historically taken to field similar capabilities.... The immediate impact of the systems fielded by the JATO Team no doubt saved the lives of many American servicemembers and Iraqi and Afghan citizens."

The award illustrates that the acquisition process affects the warfighter not only in the long term, but in the near term as well. Acquisition program managers are responsible for leading a program through major milestones, which cover cradle-to-grave aspects of weapons systems and equipment, said Col. Robert Martinez, commanding officer, Marine Aviation Detachment, Patuxent River, Md.

Until recently, officers seeking to advance in the acquisition career field had to train for their primary military occupational specialty (MOS) while at the same time working towards acquisition requirements. This often resulted in acquisition officers' non-selection for promotion. With no primary MOS in acquisitions, the Marine Corps was challenged to provide enough qualified candidates to lead its important acquisition programs, said Martinez.

To improve the situation, he said, the commandant of the Marine Corps created the U.S. Marine Corps Acquisition Professional Officer 9959 MOS in 2004. The Marine Corps Acquisition Command Slate Board selects highly qualified 9959 Marine officers where the Corps has a unique and vested interest.

Membership in the acquisition workforce initially comes through the primary MOS monitor, who assigns officers to entry- and mid-level acquisition billets. Billets are coordinated through co-occupational field sponsors (chief of staff, Marine Corps Systems Command for ground officer, and the commanding officer Marine Aviation Detachment, Patuxent River for aviation officers). Once assigned to an acquisition billet, officers can seek acquisition certification, said Martinez. Certification also depends on eligibility for membership in the Acquisition Corps.

Martinez is commanding officer, Marine Aviation Detachment, Patuxent River, Md., and Morris is his acquisition manpower officer.

Col Robert Martinez, USMC * Ron Morris
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Title Annotation:Career Development
Author:Morris, Ron
Publication:Defense AT & L
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2006
Words:352
Previous Article:American forces press service (April 28, 2006): Deputy Defense Secretary signs new Personnel System into effect.
Next Article:Army news service (July 5, 2006): U.S. Army transforms personnel management.
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