The U.S. Marine Corps is looking to re-enlist older, more experienced military veterans to expand its cyber force for national security against established rivals China and Russia.
Roughly 62 percent of Marines are 25 or younger and will serve only four years, The Associated Press reported Saturday, and the Marine Corps is putting incentives in place to entice older, more experienced Marines to join cyber operations initiatives. The Marine Corps has engaged in low-tech counterinsurgency operations in the middle east for more than a decade, but this new shift to technological warfare reflects a change in priorities in America’s national security philosophy. (RELATED: Trump’s National Security Strategy Has Focus On Immigration)
“It’s going to be a Marine Corps that’s a little bit older, a little more experienced because as much as we love our young Marines … we need a little bit older because it takes longer to learn these skills,” Marine Corps Commandant Robert Neller told defense leaders at a San Diego conference. “And so we’re an organization looking at the whole way we do business, and it’s going to change our culture.”
The Corps is also hoping to enlist older recruits for maturity reasons as well, saying the tradition of enlisting 18 and 19-year-olds isn’t conducive to any of the the new specialty’s goals. (RELATED: How Trump’s National Security Rejects Obama’s)
“By older Marines, we’re not talking guys with walkers but rather second- and third-tour enlisted Marines,” said Gary Solis, a military expert at Georgetown University who served 26 years in the Marine Corps. “They may be only a few years older than the 18- and 19-year-old Marines, but those three or four years difference could make a hell of a difference as far as maturity when it comes to their outlook and unit cohesion.”
The move comes among rising tensions between the U.S. and China and the U.S. and Russia. The U.S. sent two warships into the South China Sea at the end of May to challenge China’s vast claims to the territory.
President Donald Trump’s administration has conducted more than half a dozen freedom of navigation operations in the past year and a half — more than the four carried out during Obama’s administration, which was decidedly hesitant to challenge China. (RELATED: White House Kept The Navy From Doing Its Job, Fearing China’s Reaction)
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