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Marine Corps Infantry Officer Life

Ever wondered what it's like to be a Marine Corps Infantry Officer (0302/0303)? Then check out the information below supplied by current Infantry Officers and the Marine MOS Handbook.

1. Introduction

Every Marine is a rifleman and every MOS exists to support the Infantry. The infantry is a challenging and exciting place for new lieutenants. You are responsible for leading Marines through rigorous training and preparing them for ground combat missions. You will be expected to plan, direct, and assist in the development of orders and tactical employment of subordinate infantry and reconnaissance units. Some tasks conducted by infantry officers are:

  • Gather and evaluate intelligence on enemy strength and position

  • Develop offensive and defensive battle plans

  • Coordinate with supporting units such as tanks, AAVs, aviation, or artillery

  • Direct the use of infantry weapons and equipment, such as mortars, machine guns, rockets, and antitank missiles

  • Develop and supervise unit training

  • Supervise the maintenance of infantry weapons and equipment

  • Direct administrative activities

Additionally, some infantry officers are assigned out of the Infantry Officer’s Course to Light Armored Reconnaissance (LAR) units. Here lieutenants are responsible for the deployment, tactical employment, and maintenance of LAR units. All infantry officers are responsible for the morale, discipline, and welfare of the Marines assigned to their charge.

2. What is this MOS like?

This MOS is physically demanding and mentally challenging. You will be expected to lead your Marines from the front. Often you will find yourself making time-sensitive decisions without all the information you would like. While, there is no ideal list of attributes that guarantee success as an infantry officer some helpful attributes are the ability to lead and motivate others, willingness to accept a challenge and face danger, willingness to accept responsibility, and an interest in land battle history and strategy. As an infantry officer you will be out in the field for extended periods of time, often with little sleep or rest, so it is helpful to be physically fit. It is strongly recommend that anyone interested in the infantry score at a minimum a 1st Class PFT.

3. What will I do after TBS before I get to my first billet?

All infantry officers attend the Infantry Officer Course (IOC) at Quantico, Virginia upon completion of TBS (see our post on what to expect at IOC). This 10-week course prepares new infantry officers for service as company grade officers in the fleet. IOC class dates usually are aligned with TBS cycles; therefore, downtime between TBS and IOC is limited. Most classes will start within two weeks of TBS graduation, and in some instances just a few days. Upon completion of IOC all officers will receive the MOS 0302. Lieutenants will usually be allowed 30 days leave in conjunction with their orders to their first unit after IOC. Those officers headed to LAR will receive the additional MOS of 0303 (Light Armored Vehicle Officer) after completion of the LAV Leaders Course, a 6-week course taught at the School of Infantry in Camp Pendleton. In a few instances, usually due to deployment cycles, some officers may not attend the LAV leaders’ course right away but will receive the 0303 MOS after a period of on the job training at their unit. Once attached to their first unit, officers may have the opportunity to attend a variety of schools such as Mountain Leader, Ranger School, Cavalry Leader, Scout Swimmer, Mortar Platoon Leader, and MOUT instructor to just name a few.

4.What will my first tour be like?

Duty Stations: There are 24 active duty infantry battalions and 3 active duty LAR battalions in the Marine Corps. Camp Lejeune has 9 infantry battalions and 1 LAR battalion. Camp Pendleton has 8 infantry battalions and 1 LAR battalion. Twentynine Palms has 4 infantry battalions and 1 LAR Battalion. Hawaii has 3 infantry battalions.

Deployments & Training: Training is the way of life for the infantry. You can expect to spend 6-10 days of every month in the field as you prepare for your deployment. When you’re not in the field you will conduct physical training, teach classes, conduct maintenance, and required administration. The administrative duties can consist of planning future training events for weeks to months out, writing awards for your Marines, conducting counselings or writing Fitreps. While at times tedious, these duties can also be quite rewarding as very few jobs will require you to care for the lives and well-beings of 40+ individuals.

Most units go through a progressive cycle in training from individual to Battalion/MEU level. All infantry battalions deploy on a regular schedule either through the MEU (SOC) program or the Unit Deployment Program (UDP) to Okinawa, Japan. Deployment cycles are 6 months deployed followed by 18 months stateside. Hawaii units are the exception. They deploy for 7 months followed by 14 months. In addition, you’ll leave your home base for several shorter training deployments prior to going overseas, such as going to 29 Palms for the combined arms exercise (CAX), or Bridgeport, CA for mountain warfare training.

Billets: Normally new lieutenants are assigned as Rifle Platoon Commanders for a period of 12 months, although it is not uncommon to be assigned a Weapons Platoon. After this period you will usually become a Company Executive Officer, a Weapons Company Platoon Commander, or move to H&S Company, to be assigned to the Battalion staff. Many of these roles are quite different than that of a rifle platoon commander but offer opportunities to learn different skillsets. Further, you can expect at least 1 deployment, although plans are being worked now to have more lieutenants stay in the fleet for two deployments. Your tour in the fleet will usually be between 24 and 36 months.

It is also worth noting that you will never be closer to your Marines than as a rifle platoon commander. You carry the same heavy pack, in the same lousy weather, hiking the same hills, eating the worst MREs and laying on the same ground with them every time in the field.

5. Where might I go after my first tour?

Infantry Officers are unrestricted line officers and can be assigned to anywhere. Following your first tour, expect a B-billet assignment, such as: recruiting, Marine Security Guard (MSG) Duty, TBS instructor, the drill field, or security forces, to include FAST Company. Some officers choose to transfer to Reconnaissance units, both Force and Division. An option for some is to do a career broadening tour in the fleet and receive a secondary MOS, such as logistics, intelligence, or public affairs. The bottom line is that as an infantry officer you have many options available to you.

6. Conclusion

Being an Infantry Officer is an exciting and diverse career. You will be in the field, directly responsible for mission accomplishment, and the welfare of your subordinates. If you liked the old recruiting poster “we didn’t promise you a rose garden…” then you will like being an infantry officer, since this MOS requires you to be a leader of Marines.


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