Sailors soon to wear marker of Corps service
By Cpl. Jose A. Figueroa
| Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | November 16, 2000
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON --
In February 2001, sailors serving with Marine units here will begin the process of qualifying for the Fleet Marine Force Warfare Device.
The new device was approved by the Vice Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Marine Corps for wear by sailors assigned to the FMF.
Like the Surface, Aviation, Submarine and Seabee Warfare device, it will serve as a designator for members of a unique community in the Navy.
Warfare programs are a distinct part of Navy culture and the device serves as a reminder of Navy personnel being tied to Marine forces.
"When you look at a sailor's uniform you can tell what community they have had dealings with," said Command Master Chief Robert Elliot, 1st Force Service Support Group. "Right now, you couldn't tell by looking at a sailor that he works with Marines."
As of this moment, sailors receive an FMF ribbon marking a successful tour with Marines.
In order to qualify for the new device, sailors must be serving with Marines in a type 2 (with Marines) or type 4 (overseas with Marines) capacity. In the Navy, sailors serving with Marine units are considered as being on a sea duty status. The reason being is that most Marine units deploy.
Upon meeting the criteria for qualification, sailors must complete rigorous training in a core regimen consisting of basic Marine battle skills as well as Navy and Marine Corps history, customs and courtesies. Also, based on the particular Marine unit a sailor is supporting they have to complete prescribed standards for that unit.
For corpsmen already serving with Marines, the device would serve as a means "to earn the title Devil-Doc," said Command Master Chief Mario Surla, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.
"We try to ingrain the (Marine) division mentality or to think like an infantryman into the minds of sailors at the Field Medical Service Schools," Surla said.
However, religious program specialists, dental technicians and select members in the aviation community will also be eligible for the device.
"Out of 23,000 sailors serving as corpsmen, religious program specialists and dental technicians, 13,000 are in direct or indirect support of Marines," said Elliot. "Sailors in these fields support the Marines more than they do the Navy.
"Seven-thousand of those are actually in Marine units," Elliot said.
"Sailors who enter the Navy, don't expect to serve with Marines," said Surla.
"When they do, they end up enjoying it and want to continue serving with Marines," said Senior Chief Kelvin Carter, senior enlisted advisor, MEF Headquarters Group. "I've served with Marines most of my career and I love it."
Although the sailor's primary job is to save lives, the qualification would ensure that the sailor is proficient in necessary combat skills, if needed.
"If a Marine was down in combat the sailor could provide the support needed and take the Marine's place," Surla said. "Kind of like a Sailor-Marine."
After receiving the device, sailors must qualify annually to keep the designation of being warfare qualified.
The device is optional for E-4's and below, but it is a mandatory requirement for E-5's and above. Should an individual in the respective rank not pursue or obtain the qualification the individual may not be eligible for promotion.
After more than 20 years of gathering support for the device a design was finally selected in April 1999. With the Eagle, Globe and Anchor being a significant centerpiece of the design stands as a clear statement that the wearer is a Marine Corps teammate.
At the time the device was designed, the vision for the Navy-Marine Team was 'Forward... From the Sea.' This philosophy is represented by a surface wave crashing on the sandy beach, literally where the sailor serves alongside Marines as they earned their reputation "on the shores of Tripoli" and the "Sands of Iwo Jima." The coastal regions of the world are also where the Navy and Marine Corps will exert American interests in future conflicts, as reflected by the doctrine at the time, "Operational Maneuver from the Sea."
The crossed rifles in the device symbolize the "rifleman ethic" the program is designed to instill into FMF sailors. Knowledge and skills inherent to the rifleman is essential to FMF sailors if the unit is to survive in combat.
The term Fleet Marine Force is utilized to remind wearers of the role of the Navy as a Naval Type commander and the operational environment in which Marines deploy.
"The program will bring the Navy-Marine Team even closer," said Carter. "Essentially, the sailor will be a jack-of-all-trades, so to speak."
"It will bring more recognition, by the rest of the Navy, to sailors assigned to the Marines," said Elliot. "Most Navy personnel don't even know there are sailors with the Marines or even what our function is."