About 3 dozen Tank Marines recently switched to the Idaho National Guard because the Marine Corps divested itself of tank companies last month. So what do you do with a bunch of service members whose skills work well with tanks when there are no more tanks? You let them transfer to another service or change their specialty.
Thirty nine of the Marine Corps’ Company C, 4th Tank Battalion raised their right hands last weekend at Gowen Field in Boise to join the Idaho National Guard. Ten others joined another state’s Guard units. The 116th Brigade Combat Team were the recipients of the already trained tank Marines. The Brigade operates updated M1A2 tanks.
“We tried to match their Marine skill sets to an Army military occupational specialty as much as possible. We’ll continue to pay them special attention for the foreseeable future to ensure their transition is as smooth as possible.” Brig. Gen. Farin Schwartz, Commander, Idaho Army National Guard
Some of the tank Marines switched to other areas, such as information technology, others did so to stay close to family members.
Most were tankers, maintainers or other support personnel, the statement said. About one-third switched to the Guard either to continue working on or in tanks, or to remain in the local area, said 1st Sgt. Craig Wilcox, a Marine quoted in the statement.
The Marine Corps tank company operated M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks, which the service began shipping to logistics hubs to be stored, demilitarized, retired from service or sold to other branches earlier this year.
As the Corps began divesting its three tank battalions in a new 10-year force restructuring effort, some 800 Marines in tank-related job fields were given the option to switch jobs and units in the Corps, transfer to a new branch or, in the case of those with at least 15 years of service, retire early.
Major changes in the Marine Corps
The Marine Corps divested the Tank companies in order to create a more flexible fighting force. Stripes also noted that the Corps “will instead invest in light armored reconnaissance units, drone squadrons and rocket artillery, among other changes meant to reshape the service to be lighter and faster for naval engagements.” They also plan to close their “law enforcement units, while slashing other cannon artillery, infantry and manned aviation units.” They plan to downsize USMC by about 12,000 personnel over the next decade.
The Idaho Commander said, “Marines make excellent soldiers.” We hope to shout.
Featured photo: “More than three dozen former Marine reservists enlisted in the Idaho Army National Guard on Sept. 13, 2020, at Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho. The service members all served in Company C, 4th Tank Battalion, which was deactivated in August as the Marine Corps divests its armor battalions. BECKY VANSHUR/U.S. ARMY”