Let’s try to clear up what exactly this catchy phrase means. All too often I hear people telling future Marines that it does not matter what job they choose because in the Marines you are all rifleman first, especially during a time of war. Well that statement could not be more wrong, or should I say misleading.
You need to understand that the Marine Corps is made up of hundreds of jobs and every Marine does not hold the job of rifleman despite what the Corps may say or suggest. Many who enlist into the Marines do so because they think that no matter what job they pick, they’ll eventually end up on the front lines and or will train in infantry/rifleman tactics often. This just doesn’t happen and is a classic example of how you maybe are being misled. This phrase is also why many civilians have a distorted view of what the Marines are actually all about.
In a very general sense, you can say that every Marine is "trained" in very basic rifleman skills and I mean very basic. The problem with this is that non-infantry Marines will receive this very basic rifleman training right after boot camp while at MCT and most will never do this type of training again while in the Corps. It is an insult to the actual 0311 Marines who are actually trained as Marine Corps rifleman to suggest that every Marine is just like them. It is very important to not misinterpret the phrase of "Every Marine a Rifleman." Yes, every Marine is trained in very basic infantry tactics, but this does not mean every Marine will work as a rifleman during his or her enlistment, especially when deployed. The phrase "Every Marine a Rifleman" does not mean the following:
- It doesn't mean every Marine holds the actual job/MOS of rifleman.
- It doesn't mean every Marine attends infantry training battalion (ITB).
- It doesn't mean every Marine can operate like a rifleman Marine at a moments notice.
- It doesn't mean every Marine when deployed to a combat zone will be an infantryman/rifleman.
- It doesn't mean you are an infantryman/rifleman first, and your job second.
The job of rifleman is an actual job in the USMC infantry held only by those Marines who have graduated the course given at the school of infantry (SOI) in the Infantry Training Battalion (ITB). Only those Marines with the job code of 0311 are actually rifleman. They do this job day in and day out and only those Marines with the job code of 03xx are infantry Marines. The Marine Corps is not made up of entirely infantry Marines and it is important to never forget this.All non-infantry Marines (pogs) will also attend SOI, but will attend Marine Combat Training (MCT) and not ITB. This is a one month course of very basic infantry skills and tactics. Many Marines who go through this course will never do this type of duty again while in the USMC. And many Marines forget what they learn here since it is a very quick and basic course given to you at the beginning of your USMC career. Completing this course does not mean you are an infantryman, let alone a rifleman, so please do not make an ass of yourself by telling others you are a rifleman if your selected job is not 0311.
What the phrase "Every Marine a Rifleman" does mean is this:
- It means every Marine must qualify with his/her rifle at least once a year regardless of MOS.
- It means if needed any Marine regardless of job can stand a post such as convoy escort, guard duty, etc etc.
- It means if your position were overrun by the enemy, you could stand up and defend yourself and your position without being completely lost.
- It means at any time you can be made to do duties that are in the combat side of the USMC regardless of your job, with some refresher training of course.
- It means every Marine has some form of basic infantry training to fall back on if needed.
- In some cases entire units such as artillery have been made to do infantry type duties while deployed. This happens due to them having no mission and because of the shortage of man power. During the Iraq war many Artillery units were deployed without their canons and were used as infantry and were involved in several major battles.
- Many times when deploying especially to a combat zone the USMC will make smaller units/groups out of a variety of MOS's. They pluck Marines from various units and make them do all kinds of different duties while deployed. Many Marines in these units ask to be there while many are made to be there. What will not happen is this. If you are a cook you will not be tossed into an infantry unit to help them out. That is not only silly, but it is very dangerous.
- This is why you have many rumors of Marines doing infantry duties despite their jobs not being infantry. This is why you have the misconception that every Marine is in great danger of death when deployed. Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: Standing a post, or doing infantry "like" duties does not make you a rifleman or an infantryman. If an MP or engineer is attached to an infantry unit, then his first mission is to perform his duties in the job that he is qualified in. It is not his duty to act like an infantryman.
- Don't forget that in today's combat zones such as Afghanistan or Iraq, any Marine regardless of their job when venturing "outside of the wire" (leaving the safety of your base), can be attacked and put in a position to engage in combat.
- Keep in mind that what applies to one Marine does not mean your experience will be the same. Each Marine's career will vary and each deployment is different. No one can predict what will happen to you during your service, so do not enlist into Artillery thinking you will be doing infantry type duties. Don't become an MP because you heard about field MP's and now think you can be just like a grunt. It is very silly of you to want to do infantry duties without picking infantry. Either you man up and pick the 0300 job field, or you go do the job you asked to do and stop trying to be cool by not earning your coolness.
- Trust me when I say that not every Marine can kill, has killed, or will kill. Contrary to popular belief, not every Marine is out there fighting in the infantry. so don't believe the hype.