LAV: Time For A Real MOS
SUBJECT AREA - Manpower
Title: LAV: Time For A Real MOS
Author: Major D.R. Miller, U.S. Marine Corps
Thesis: Establishment of a primary MOS for all LAV Marines will
capture operational experience, provide focus for the LAV program,
enhance training, and ensure combat readiness of LAI/LAR units.
Background: The Marine Corps' light armored vehicle program has
been an evolutionary process which has not fully matured because of
the lack of an MOS community as found in other combat arms MOSs.
The absence of an LAV community within the Marine Corps is the
result of not having a primary MOS for LAV officers and SNCOs. The
current Marine Corps reorganization initiatives will give impetus
to reexamine the LAV MOS structure. Other military organizations
such as the Army's cavalry and mechanized infantry can provide
examples to study as the Marine Corps develops new LAV
organizations. Unlike other combat arms MOSs where officers and
SNCOs are trained and qualified before reporting to their
respective units, new LAV officers and SNCOs are handicapped and
as novices find themselves taught by junior Marines. Because there is
no primary MOS, the result is the lack of continuity of experienced
leadership as well as the absence of any qualified sponsorship of
LAV program initiatives in the budget process.
Recommendation: The Marine Corps should establish an enlisted LAV
MOS structure to support the new LAV organizations and create a
primary MOS for LAV officers.
LAV: TIME FOR A REAL MOS
Thesis Statement: The Marine Corps' reluctance to create a primary
MOS for all LAV Marines has had a detrimental impact on the LAV
program, and the training of LAV Marines. Establishment of an LAV
MOS for all LAV Marines at all ranks will provide focus for the LAV
program, enhance training, capture corporate experience, and
finally, ensure combat readiness of LAI units.
I. LAV MOS Time for Change
A. No MOS, No Community
B. Marine Corps Reorganization
II. The Beginnings of Marine Light Armor
A. Concept Development
B. Initial Manpower Analysis
III. The Evolution of LAV Bn to LAI Bn
A. Follow-on Test and Evaluation
B. Doctrinal Development
C. The Scout Issue
IV. The Army Method
A. Cavalry - Missions and Tasks
B. Mechanized Infantry - A Separate MOS
V. Handicapped Leadership
A. Impact on Training
B. Impact on Maintenance
C. Impact on Overall readiness
VI. Lack of Focus within the Marine Corps
A. Program Initiatives Going Nowhere
B. The Training Problem
VII. The Solution
A. Creation of an LAV MOS Structure
B. The View From Headquarters
C. Benefits to the Marine Corps
LAV: TIME FOR A REAL MOS
Since the light armored vehicle's (LAV) fielding in 1983,
the LAV has proven its worth for the Marine Corps on two
occasions: Operation Just Cause in Panama in 1989, and most
recently, Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. As
with any new concept, the Marine Corps' LAV program has been
an evolutionary process and has experienced growing pains.
Over the years the LAV concept of employment and Marine
Corps light armor doctrine have been continually reviewed,
tested, and redefined. Logistics problems not originally
foreseen during concept development have been addressed as
well as major design flaws and needed hardware improvements
identified. Yet, after eight years there remains a lack of
focus and institutional dedication on the part of the Marine
Corps for the LAV. This lack of focus and commitment can be
attributed in some measure to the fact that there is no LAV
community as in other military occupational specialties
(MOS) within the Marine Corps such as the infantry, armor,
or artillery, aviation, and so on. There is no LAV
community because unlike other MOS's the Marine Corps has
not created a primary MOS for LAV officers nor has it
established a enlisted career structure for LAV enlisted
Recent Marine Corps reorganization initiatives, as
recommended by the Force Structure Planning Group (FSPG)
and approved by the Commandant of the Marine Corps, have
provided the Marine Corps the opportunity to reexamine LAV
MOS issues and provide optimal solutions. Among the many
force structure initiatives, the FSPG recommended changing
the name of the current light armored infantry battalions
(LAI) to reconnaissance battalion (light armored (LAR)).
This change more accurately reflects this battalion's
capabilities and the true nature of its combat role within
the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF). Additionally, the
FSPG recommended the creation of a Combined Arms Regiment
(CAR) which would include a tank battalion, a reconnaissance
company (light armored), and two LAI battalions. The LAI
battalions in the CAR will not resemble their predecessors,
but will be organized and employed as mechanized infantry.
This initiative will increase the number of LAV equipped
companies from 12 to 24.
The resultant increase in LAV unit structure provides a
structure base that enables the Marine Corps to create a
primary MOS for officers and more importantly, create an
enlisted career track for LAV enlisted Marines from the rank
of private to master gunnery sergeant. Establishment of a
primary MOS and feeder MOS's for all LAV Marines will create
an LAV MOS community that captures corporate experience,
ensures sponsorship at the headquarters level, provides
trained and experienced LAV leaders, and finally, promotes
combat readiness of LAI and reconnaissance units (LAR).
THE BEGINNINGS OF MARINE LIGHT ARMOR
Marine light armor had its beginning as early as 1973,
when the Marine Corps identified a requirement for a mobile
protected weapons system that would provide increased
firepower and mobility for Marine infantry during the
initial phases of the amphibious assault. It was not until
1980, in the aftermath of the Iran hostage crisis and the
birth of the rapid deployment force concept that the Marine
Corps identified and validated a requirement for a lightly
armored vehicle which would provide the MAGTF with greater
firepower, operational range, battlefield agility, and
strategic and tactical mobility. As a result of convincing
congressional testimony by the Commandant and other Marine
Corps witnesses before the Senate Armed Services Committee
in February 1980, funding was subsequently approved for
procurement of LAVs for the Marine Corps.
Normally the acquisition of major weapons systems or other
major defense related hardware is a complex and rather long
drawn-out affair which takes place over a five to ten year
period. This process involves conducting mission analysis,
concept development, research and development, systems
engineering, manpower and training analyses, and determining
logistic support requirements. While these steps are not
inclusive, they do represent the major evolutions within the
initial phases of systems acquisition. In the case of the
LAV, the Marine Corps, with Congressional and Department of
Defense blessing, decided to pursue an off-the-shelf
acquisition strategy which shortened the acquisition time by
as much as seven years. Within three years of the Marine
Corps officially establishing the LAV program, the first LAV
unit was activated and LAVs were being delivered to the
Marine Corps. The speed at which this evolution took place
was heretofore unheard of, at least in a peacetime
Even in the light of a much heralded acquisition strategy
which provided the Marine Corps a quantum leap in
operational capability, there was much in the way of
operational and organizational concepts that may have been
given only cursory study or overlooked completely. From the
outset the concept of employment and the doctrinal role of
the LAV within the MAGTF were vague. These are key aspects
in the design of an organization, billet structure, and
ultimately the types of MOSs that are assigned. It is
difficult to build an organization or determine its
structure without knowing how that organization will be
employed. In an interview in DEFENCE AND ARMAMENT in
November 1982, Major General Glasgow, then director of
Operations Division, Plans, Policies, and Operations
Department, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps (HQMC), stated
that the final organization for the LAV and its concept of
employment had not yet been determined. These issues were
to be more fully developed after operational experience with
the first activated unit at the Marine Air Ground Combat
Center, Twenty-Nine Palms, California. (15:66)
Initially, the Light Armored Assault Battalion, as it was
first named, was seen as a combat unit which would function
as part of a larger force, either in direct support or
attached. The battalion's primary functions were to provide
fire support and ground mobility as well as conduct adjunct
reconnaissance and security missions. Based on this rough
concept of employment and organization, HQMC conducted a
manpower analysis to determine the required personnel
numbers and types of MOSs. Because of structure constraints
and the views of senior leaders in the Marine Corps at the
time, little consideration was given to providing organic
infantry to each LAV Battalion. Given the LAV battalion's
primary roles of providing direct fire support and ground
mobility, manpower analysts created and assigned new primary
MOSs only for enlisted Marines who were LAV vehicle
operators or mechanics. Billets for LAV officers and SNCOs
would filled by infantry MOSs, 0302 and 0369 respectively.
Later on, an additional MOS (0303) was created which would
be given to officers after a requisite period of on-the-job-
THE EVOLUTION OF LAV BATTALION TO LAI BATTALION
In 1984 the Marine Corps initiated a follow-on operational
test and evaluation (FOT&E) of the LAV. The purpose of the
FOT&E was threefold: refine tactical doctrine; verify system
performance, reliability and maintainability; determine
requirements for the table of organization (T/O) and table
of equipment (T/E), training, and logistic support. The
test and evaluation called for using the recently published
Marine Corps Operational Handbook (OH) 6-6, Marine Light
Armor Employment as a baseline for testing tactical
employment. OH 6-6 depicts the LAV Battalion as an
organization performing those missions and roles that
historically were considered cavalry functions. This view
of the role of LAV Battalion was radically different from
what was originally envisioned, that of providing direct
fire support and ground mobility to infantry battalions.
The conclusions and recommendations found in the final
report and executive summary validated much of the concept
of employment as described in OH 6-6, but they also
highlighted many deficiencies. The report concluded that
the T/O at the time of the test was inadequate. At the time,
LAV Battalions did not have organic scout infantry, but were
task organized with regular infantry when the mission called
for scout-infantry. The report went on to say that because
of the special skills required, LAV units must have trained
organic scout-infantry in order to accomplish assigned
missions in accordance with OH 6-6. LAV-25 squads should
consist of a minimum of six Marines, and that they all
should be trained as vehicle crew and scout-
infantry.(17:185) Simply stated, there should be one MOS
for vehicle crew and scout-infantry.
Because of structure constraints, the issue of organic
scout-infantry for LAV Battalions was not addressed until
June 1988. Structure and manning decisions contained in the
Marine Corps Program Objective Memorandum (POM) 90-94 made
possible the structure necessary to provide scout-infantry
to the LAV Battalions.(6:1) On 1 October 1988 LAV
Battalions were redesignated as Light Armored Infantry (LAI)
Battalions. This name change coincided with the addition of
168 scout-infantry to each LAI Battalion T/O. While this
evolution represented a step toward correcting the T/O
deficiencies identified by the FOT&E, it only went halfway.
The MOS of the scout-infantry in the LAI Battalions remained
0311, basic infantryman. This was contrary to the
recommendation made in the FOT&E final report.(17:187)
The issue of a single common MOS for LAV vehicle crewmen
and scout-infantry has remained a controversial topic to this
day. There are those within the Marine Corps who believe
that it is only necessary to assign basic infantrymen as
scout-infantry and train them by OJT. However, the views of
previous LAV and LAI unit commanders contradict this method
of assignment. Numerous letters and position papers from
LAI unit commanders argued for a common MOS for vehicle
crewmen and the scout-infantry who ride in the back of the
LAV-25. One such letter points out very succinctly the
rationale for a common MOS.
We have apparently assumed that changing the title of
the units from Light Armored Vehicle to Light Armored
Infantry allows Marines assigned to those units to be
interchanged with regular infantry Marines. They
cannot! The maintenance, vehicle operation, engineer
and reconnaissance skills, as well as the skills
required to operate their particular weapon system
mounted on the LAV requires a Marine that has had the
requisite training. The assignment of 0311 MOS Marines
to LAI units is not satisfactory, even if given an
abbreviated course on LAV basics. The crew of an LAV is
a team just as a squad of infantry or the crew of a tank
is a team. All crew members need to have the same basic
skills and understanding of the LAV and LAV unit in
order to conduct sustained operations.(9:2)
THE ARMY METHOD
One way to measure the efficacy of an organization is to
compare it with another organization with similar missions
and whose soldiers perform similar tasks. In the case of
the new Reconnaissance Battalion (LAR), formerly LAI
Battalion, one could examine Army cavalry units and draw
parallel conclusions based Army experience. Soldiers
assigned to cavalry units are given a different MOS than
their infantry counterparts. Cavalry scouts, in addition to
possessing basic infantry skills, must also be able to
perform reconnaissance and basic pioneer tasks. They must
also be able to function as crewmen on the Bradley fighting
vehicle and perform vehicle maintenance as a member of a
vehicle team. Bradley vehicle crewmen and scouts can switch
places when the situation requires. This team philosophy
has driven the Army to develop a common MOS for vehicle
crewmen and scouts.
In describing the role of dismounted riflemen (scout-
infantry) in an LAV unit (now LAI), OH 6-6 states:
The primary mission of the dismounted riflemen is to
enhance the reconnaissance and screening capabilities
of the organization and provide limited pioneer and
demolition tasks as required.(23:9)
Some of the engineer tasks that the LAV scout-infantry
may be required to perform include removing roadblocks,
constructing bypasses, clearing and laying mines and
performing route reconnaissance and bridge classification.
In addition to the above tasks, the FOT&E points out that
LAV scout-infantry must also be able to function as vehicle
crewmen when necessary. The parallel between Army cavalry
scouts and Marine LAV scout-infantry is so close that it
would lead one to believe that like the Army, the Marine
Corps should have a single MOS for LAV crewmen and scout-
The new LAI Battalions as envisioned by the FSPG will become
the Marine Corps' permanently organized mechanized infantry.
While the organization for the new LAI Battalions has not
been approved yet, the organizational concept will revolve
around a new LAV, the LAV squad carrier. The LAV squad
carrier or LAV personnel carrier (PC) would carry a three
man crew and an eight man squad. Rounding out the LAI
company would be the standard LAV variants currently in the
Marine Corps inventory, such as the LAV-25, LAV-mortar, LAV-
antitank, and LAV-logistics.
Once again it would be appropriate for the Marine Corps
to look at the Army as we develop a concept of employment,
design the organization, and establish individual training
standards for LAI units within the CAR. Since the
introduction of the Bradley fighting vehicle, the Army
determined that because of the complexity of the system as
well as the change to tactical doctrine, that it was
necessary to create a separate MOS for mechanized infantry.
Although the basic infantry skills for mechanized infantry
and "straight-leg" infantry are the same, the manner in
which mechanized infantry or straight-leg infantry are
employed is different. In a mechanized infantry unit, the
vehicle, its crew, and the infantry squad are considered as
parts of a single system and when employed together provide
a synergistic effect. Just as in Army cavalry units, for
mechanized infantry there is no MOS distinction between the
Bradley crew and the infantrymen who ride in the back.
Until now I have focused on the need for a common LAV
MOS structure for enlisted Marines within LAV units, be they
in the LAI Battalion or Reconnaissance Battalion (LAR).
However, we will now turn our attention to the assignment
and training of LAV leaders. Currently, above the rank of
sergeant there is no LAV MOS with the exception of the
additional MOS awarded to officers after a requisite period
of OJT. When an 0313 sergeant is promoted to staff
sergeant, his MOS changes to 0369, a basic infantry staff
noncommissioned officer (SNCO). Sergeants who have grown-up
in LAV units become part of a larger community of 0369s and
inevitably are eligible for reassignment to billets for
which they are unprepared either by training or experience.
Conversely, Infantry SNCO's without formal LAV training
or prior experience were and still are routinely assigned to
LAI units. Unlike infantry, artillery, tank, assault
amphibian vehicle (AAV), engineer and other densely
populated combat arms MOS units who have the benefit of
formally trained and seasoned SNCOs, LAI units are faced
with a continual process of training their SNCO leadership
from ground zero.
In the past, officer assignment to LAI units has been
accomplished by seeking volunteers from or assigning quotas
to infantry regiments as well as tank and AAV battalions.
Although the preponderance of LAV officers came from
infantry units, some previous LAV and LAI battalion
commanders have discovered that having a mix of combat arms
officers within the battalion provides a balance and depth
of knowledge in the absence of any formal training or
experience. For instance, infantry officers provide the
necessary infantry expertise, while tank officers contribute
the gunnery know-how. Additionally, tank and AAV officers,
given the nature of their MOSs, can provide the proper focus
for maintenance. While this balance of MOS knowledge when
coupled with OJT and LAV operational experience can improve
the personnel and training readiness picture, it is at best
a bandaid approach to LAV officer assignment and training.
It cannot take the place formal instruction in tactics,
gunnery, vehicle operation, and maintenance.
When first assigned to an LAI Battalion, untrained and
inexperienced officers and SNCOs are at a disadvantage in
the exercise of their leadership responsibilities. These
leaders may find it difficult to assess training or
supervise the maintenance effort without a fundamental base
of knowledge of LAV tactics, training standards, as well as
the operation and technical aspects of the vehicles and
weapons systems in their charge. Becoming proficient as an
LAV leader is a process of self-instruction and OJT, relying
on their subordinates to teach them. What develops is a
role reversal; junior Marines are training their leaders.
This a far cry from General Lejeune's description of a
leader as a teacher.
Some LAI Battalions in the past have established informal
schools and conducted training for newly assigned officers
and SNCOs. But this effort is not without cost in terms of
time, manpower, and fiscal resources and is at the expense
of the LAV unit commander.
Given time, LAV officers and SNCOs are trained and gain
experience. Unfortunately, maintaining this corporate LAV
experience is a fleeting proposition. Trained and
experienced personnel are reassigned after two to three
years in the Battalion. While this problem may be
manageable if the numbers are small, any major turnover
would seriously degrade personnel and training readiness.
Exacerbating this problem is the fact that few if any LAV
trained and experienced Officers and SNCOs ever return to
LAI units at a later time during their career. LAV units
become a revolving door for transient amateurs.
Finally there is the issue of combat replacements. The
recent Gulf War was a unique situation where our enemy gave
us time to build forces in theater and train. At the 1991
Armor Conference at Ft Knox, Kentucky, during a discussion
session in which Marine Corps tank, AAV, and LAI issues were
addressed, LAI commanders or unit representatives discussed
the likely impact of the lack of a primary MOS for LAV
officers and SNCOs on operational readiness of LAI units in
combat. The following is a synopsis of their discussion.
During Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm the need
to have a permanent LAI MOS for officers and SNCOs
became quite apparent. With the possibility of a
protracted ground campaign, the lack of qualified
replacements became of great concern for the LAI
Battalions.... During hostilities, as casualties occur
within the officer and SNCO ranks, no qualified
replacements are available to place in combat. An
infantry officer or SNCO cannot take over an LAI company
or platoon during combat and be expected to perform as
one who is trained and worked with an LAV. (29:6)
LACK OF PROGRAM FOCUS WITHIN THE MARINE CORPS
The lack of a primary MOS for LAV officers and SNCOs
has resulted in the absence of any proponency or qualified
sponsorship for the LAV program or LAI units at Headquarters
or elsewhere within the supporting establishment. Seldom
are LAV-experienced officers assigned to billets responsible
for developing or improving LAV hardware, training, or
doctrine. As an example, in the recent past the succession
of MOSs the of LAV proponent and requirements officers at
the Warfighting Center in Quantico has been infantry, tank,
infantry (recon), and tank. None of these officers had any
previous LAV experience. The current LAV proponent and
requirements officer is an AAV officer who has had LAV
experience. However, his assignment was more a case of
opportunistic circumstance rather than purposeful design.
The LAV proponent and requirements officer is responsible
for identifying LAV warf ighting deficiencies, validating
operational requirements, resolving structure issues, and
reviewing doctrinal and training changes. While any Marine
officer assigned to this particular billet would be
dedicated to the task of resolving LAV issues and promoting
LAV programs, nonetheless, he is handicapped initially by
his lack of knowledge. A neophyte LAV requirements officer,
who has no LAV experience may spend half his tour learning
the LAV and developing an appreciation for LAV and LAI
issues. Just as this officer becomes knowledgeable and
effective in his job, it is time for him to leave, and once
again the program goes back to the starting gate.
This absence of qualified proponency and sponsorship has
resulted in the lack of institutional dedication for the LAV
program. Approximately nine years have passed since the
first LAV was fielded. And although major design flaws or
critical required operational improvements were identified
early on, only a few minor modifications have been made.
One example of a critical operational deficiency is the lack
of a thermal sight for the LAV-25.
From the time the LAV-25 was first introduced, the Marine
Corps has highlighted the need for thermal sight. Year
after year during POM development, the LAV thermal sight
initiative, as well as other critical LAV initiatives, took
a backseat to other initiatives which had the support of
their respective MOS communities and therefore sponsorship
at the headquarters level. It was not until the recent Gulf
war that LAI commanders were able raise the visibility of
need and convince Marine Corps leadership of the critical
need for a thermal sight for the LAV-25.
Similarly, the lack institutional dedication also has had a
detrimental impact on training. Presently, no formal school
exists for LAV officers or SNCOs even though this critical
training deficiency has long been officially recognized by
the Marine Corps. On this subject the final report of the
LAV FOT&E states that:
Officer training for LAV commanders is inadequate.
- No formal doctrinal training
- Unlike any other MOS, LAV officers are not basic
"experts" upon arrival at the LAVB.
- LAV officers are unprepared in
-- Maintenance management
-- Gunnery (section and platoon)
SNCO training for LAV unit leaders is inadequate
in the same areas indicated for officers.(17:186-187)
In 1988 the U.S. Naval Audit Service conducted an audit
of the Marine Corps' LAV program. As a result of the audit,
the Naval Audit Service found that many of the problems
within the program could be attributed in some measure to
the lack of formal training for officers and SNCOs.(28:4)
The Marine Corps responded to the Naval Audit Service
acknowledging the need for a formal school and outlined a
plan for establishing such a school. However, as of the
writing of this article no formal school exists. The
continuous train of studies, surveys, audits, and analyses,
while confirming the obvious, have produced little more than
a perennial topic for discussion.
Other training issues which have not been given adequate
attention include individual training standards (ITS),
gunnery training, and combined arms exercise (CAX)
participation. Until September 1990 there were no
officially published ITSs for LAV crewmen and as for Scout-
Infantry, ITS's have yet to be published. Prior to the
Marine Air Ground Training and Education Center publishing
the LAV crewmen standards, individual LAI Battalions
developed their own in order to have some measure by which
to assess their efforts.
For years gunnery training for LAV-25 crews has been a
"hit and miss" endeavor. Previous LAI unit commanders have
borrowed from the Army's Bradley gunnery manual what was
applicable in addition to soliciting help from Marine tank
master gunners. Only recently has a gunnery manual for the
LAV-25 been written. Embarrassingly, it was written by the
Army after they took possession of 16 LAVs in 1989 on temp-
loan from the Marine Corps in order to conduct operational
testing. The Army found that unlike other major weapons
systems such as the tank or Bradley fighting vehicle which
have gunnery manuals that spell out the vehicles' weapons
technical characteristics, manner of tactical employment,
and method of training, there was no such manual for the
LAV. Currently, the Marine Corps is "Marinizing" the Army's
manual and will soon publish and distribute the new
reference for Marine Corps use.
Creation of an LAV enlisted MOS career structure and primary
MOS for LAV officers would be a major step toward solving
the problems that have been outlined thus far. It is not a
simple solution, but nonetheless provides the means to
develop a corps of LAV experts and not transient amateurs.
The first recommendation, and perhaps least contentious, is
the establishment of an LAV enlisted career structure. From
the rank of private to sergeant there would be four MOSs:
light armored infantryman (0313), scout-infantryman (0312),
LAV antitank crewman (0353 -currently 0352), and LAV
mortarman (0343 - currently 0341). An LAV crewman and light
armored infantryman would have the same MOS (0313) and would
be interchangeable as crewman or inf antryman. The scout-
inf antryman MOS (0312) would be an additional MOS given to
light armored infantry Marines who are assigned to the
Reconnaissance Battalion (Light Armored). The additional
skills required as a scout-infantryman could be taught as
part of formal package of instruction at the School of
infantry or within the battalion upon arrival.
The LAV antitank TOW missile system is descriptively and
functionally different from the TOW missile launcher version
mounted on the High Mobility Medium Vehicle Wheeled (HMMVW).
Yet, Marines who operate the two different systems are given
the same MOS. By creating an LAV antitank MOS(0353), the
Marine Corps is able to accurately identify those LAV-AT
Marines and train them from the outset on the weapons
systems and vehicles to which they will be assigned. While
the 81mm mortar mounted in the LAV is not significantly
different from its ground-mounted counterpart, there are
differences in its manner of employment. More importantly,
an LAV mortarman becomes an integral part of the crew and
therefore must learn how to operate and maintain the LAV.
Inclusion of LAV crewman and light armored infantry (0313),
LAV-AT Marines (0353) and LAV mortarmen (0343) as well as a
scout-infantry MOS into a single MOS structure would broaden
the LAV enlisted population to the extent that it would
provide the MOS rank structure necessary to afford promotion
opportunity from private to master gunnery sergeant. When
an LAV Marine, regardless of his specific MOS, is promoted
to staff sergeant, his MOS changes to 0370, LAV unit leader.
He will keep this MOS to the rank master gunnery sergeant
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LAV enlisted Marines upon completion of the basic infantry
course at the SOI would go on to a basic LAV course. Those
individuals identified as antitank operators or mortarmen
would follow a course of instruction pertaining to those
particular LAV variants. The more exceptional students
would receive instruction on the LAV-25 and some limited
gunnery training. Others would receive this training at
their future battalion.
Assignment of LAV Marines to the Reconnaissance Battalion
(Light Armored) would be managed in much the same way as was
done with the old Reconnaissance Battalion. LAV Marines
(0313, 0343, 0353, and 0370) after serving a period of time
in an LAI Battalion would given an opportunity to transfer
to the LAR Battalion or the LAR Company within the Combined
Arms Regiment. LAV Marines, who are new to a LAR unit,
would undergo a period of formal instruction or OJT before
being awarded an additional MOS of 0312, scout-infantryman.
There are a number of ways to address the LAV officer MOS
and assignment problem. One solution is to continue with
the current policy of assigning combat arms officers and
awarding them an additional MOS. One exception is that these
officers must attend a formal school. After the their
initial tour, these officers are tracked by the manpower
system, and later in their careers, they could be reassigned
to an LAV unit. The important point here is that these
officers must receive formal training on the LAV with
emphasis on tactics, gunnery, and maintenance. There also
must be an assignment mechanism in place that guarantees
reassignment of LAV experienced officers.
A more plausible solution is to create a primary LAV
MOS for officers. This would serve as a catalyst for the
establishment of a formal LAV officer school much like the
current AAV officers'course. Assignment of a primary LAV
MOS for officers would take place at The Basic School (TBS),
as is the case with other officer MOSs. After completion of
TBS, lieutenants would attend the Infantry Officer's Course,
and then the LAV school. Initially, other ranks, such as
captains, majors, and lieutenant colonels, that are required
to establish the grade shape or rank structure pyramid
within the MOS would be filled by encouraging moves from
other combat arms. After formal training, each officer
would be assigned the LAV MOS as his primary MOS. This
would be required until the LAV officer population matures.
Of the two solutions that are presented here for the LAV
officer assignment and the MOS issue , there are a number of
derivations which can be developed. Central to each
solution is the establishment of a formal LAV officer school
and the need for continuity in follow-on assignments.
However, it is this author's opinion that the LAV MOS should
be a primary MOS for officers. The official recognition of
the need for a formal school for LAV officers and SNCOs, as
pointed out earlier in this article, should lead one to
recognize that there is a special body of knowledge required
to correctly employ an LAI/LAR unit, maintain vehicles and
train personnel. Assignment to an LAI or LAR unit should
not be merely viewed as a career broadening tour.
The establishment of an enlisted LAV MOS structure and the
creation of a primary LAV MOS for officers are not without
their detractors. Not everyone shares the same perceptions
of the problems or agrees to the solutions. The prevailing
argument in the past against creating a primary MOS for
officers and an enlisted career track has been that the LAV
population is too small to justify primary MOSs above the
rank of sergeant. Manpower administrators cite grade-shape
problems as well as question the cost-effectiveness of
managing a small MOS community. This reference to grade-
-shape reflects a priority of administrative management
concerns over combat readiness. Additionally, many in the
Marine Corps believe that by creating another MOS we are
becoming too specialized and as such are losing our
versatility and our ability to adapt. However, as the
Marine Corps gets smaller and yet more technical, the effort
to achieve efficiency and versatility through economies of
scale will become more difficult. Combat skill and task
proficiency become victim to the generalist's warfighting
philosophy of "jack of all trades".
The increased LAV structure as recommended by the FSPG
will support an enlisted LAV MOS structure from the rank of
private to master gunnery sergeant. The maturation and more
importantly the retention of enlisted LAV leaders will
provide the Marine Corps with a well of expertise and
experience which in turn will ensure combat readiness.
The litany of problems and issues previously discussed
are directly or indirectly related to the absence of an LAV
community. Establishment of an enlisted LAV career track
and creation of a primary MOS for LAV officers will provide
the genesis for such an MOS community. These steps will
provide qualified program sponsorship, raise visibility of
LAV warfighting issues, capture corporate experience,
improve training, and ultimately enhance our warfighting
1. Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, Memorandum,
Subj.: The Marine Corps Force Structure Plan. Washington D.C.:
Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. 16 December 1991.
2. Besch, Edwin W. "Light Armored Vehicles - Needs and
Candidates." Marine Corps Gazette December 80: 33-44.
3. Besch, Edwin W. "Light Armored Vehicles - Uses and
Organizations." Marine Corps Gazette January 81: 55-62.
4. Besch, Edwin W. "Light Armored Vehicles - Pending
Issues." Marine Corps Gazette December 81: 16-17.
5. "Coming Changes in Ground Units." Marine Corps Gazette
September 81: 30.
6. Commandant of the Marine Corps. Naval Message. Subj.:
Concept Execution for POM 90-94 MAGTF Structure and Manning
Refinements. Washington, D.C.: Date Time Group 220300Z Jun 88.
7. Commandant of the Marine Corps. Naval Message. Subj.:
Redesignation of LAV Units as LAI Units. Washington, D.C.: Date
Time Group 011954Z SEP 88.
8. Commanding General, 7th Marine Expeditionary Brigade.
Letter, Subj.: Light Armored In fan try Battalion Issues. 29 Palms,
CA.: Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC). 20 April
9. Commanding Officer, 1st Light Armored Infantry Battalion,
Point Paper, Subj.: Lack of Primary MOS/Formal School For LAV
Leaders (SNCOs and Officers). 23 September 1988.
10. Commanding Officer, 1st Light Armored Infantry Battalion,
Letter, Subj.: MOS Training Concept For Light Armored (LAV) Vehicle
Personnel. 4 October 1988.
11. Commanding Officer, 2d Light Armored Infantry Battalion.
Letter, Subj.: Light Armored Infantry Battalion Issues. Camp Lejeune,
NC.: 2d Marine Division. 2 March 1989.
12. DeSantis, A.A. "Employing the LAV Battalion." Marine Corps
Gazette October 85: 65-70.
13. Estes, Kenneth W. "LAV Quo Vadis?" Marine Corps Gazette
December 1981: 18-20.
14. Fleet Marine Force Manual (FMFM) 6-30 (Coordinating Draft)
Light Armored Infantry Operations. Quantico, VA.: Marine Corps
Combat Development Command. 16 October 1990.
15. Glasgow, H.G., Major General, USMC. Interview. DEFENCE
ARMAMENT November 1982: 66.
16. Glidden, Thomas T. "Establishing a Permanent Mechanized
MAB." Marine Corps Gazette July 80: 43-48.
17. Light Armored Vehicle (LAV) Follow-on Operational Test and
Evaluation (FOT&E) Final Test Report. Quantico, VA.: Marine Corps
Development and Education Command. 18 December 1986.
18. "Manpower Process." Handbook for Manpower Managers.
Washington, D.C.: Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. January 1988.
19. Marine Corps Order P1200.7. Subj.: Military Occupational
Specialties Manual (Short Title: MOS Manual). Washington, D.C.:
Headquarters, U.S Marine Corps. 30 April 1991.
20. Marine Corps Order P1510.xx (Draft). Subj.: Individual Training
Standards. Quantico, VA.: Marine Air Ground Training and Education
Center (MAGTEC). No Date.
21. Marine Corps Order P5000.10C. Subj.: Systems Acquisition
Manual. Washington, D.C.: Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. 1 April
22. Moranville, April and Daira Paulson. Light Armored Vehicle (LAV)
Analysis for Officers and Staff Non-Commissioned Officers in Supervisory
Maintenance Training. San Diego, CA.: Navy Personnel Research and
Development Center. 1 March 1989.
23. Operational Handbook (OH) 6-6 Marine Light Armor Employment.
Quantico, VA.: Marine Corps Development and Education Command. 17
24. Soldier's Manuals STP 17-19D1-4. CAVALRY SCOUT. Washington,
D.C.: Headquarters, Department of the Army. 18 August 1986.
25. Required Operational Capability (ROC) for a Light Armored Vehicle
(LAV) (Revised). Washington, D.C.: Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps.
15 June 1989.
26. Ross, William. Light Armored Vehicle Program History. Warren,MI.:
LAV Program Managers Office U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Command.
27. U.S. Congress. Senate Armed Services Committee, Hearings.
Department of Defense Authorization for Appropriations for Fiscal Year
1981. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Goverment Printing Office. 1981.
28. U.S. Navy, Naval Audit Service, Report Abstract, Audit Number
120-W-88, Title: Marine Corps Light Armored Vehicle Program.
15 July 1988.
29. 1991 Armor Conference After-Action Report. Marine Corps Agenda.
LAI Topics. Ft Knox, KY.: Marine Corps Detachment, U.S. Army Armor
Center. 14 May 91.
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