0211 MOS Slams Shut to Women- Critics Cite Corps’ Negligence

In 2008 Marine Corps intelligence leaders announced the opening of the exclusively male counterintelligence designator to females. The operational need was clear. Representatives from Washington, D.C., visited the Corps’ major commands. Their announcement was met with hostility from some CI Marines opposed to the move. The Headquarters Marine Corps team explained the change had been made and advised they recruit the best from inside the 02 field before the new slots were opened to the rest for the Corps. CI recruiters swung into action to entice women to the CI side. They were successful.

Two days shy of graduating from the Corps’ counterintelligence course at Dam Neck, Va., Corps officials informed the first female NCO in line to receive the 0211 designator that the MOS would not be hers. She had successfully completed the course. She could keep the hefty bonus, but she would leave without what she came for.

What happened?

Though accounts conflict, this blow to the Corps comes down to Title 10 and its requisite notification to Congress, and the apparent inaction by the Marine Corps itself.

U.S. Code Title 10, Section 541, Ground Combat Exclusion requires the services to give notice to Congress of any formerly closed MOS opening to women and vice versa. This recently occurred with the U.S. Navy and its interest in opening submarine berths to females. It is the case with the 0211 Marine counterintelligence/human intelligence specialty, an MOS that has been closed because of its proximity to conflict within lower-echelon combat units. According to intelligence sources, the 0211 specialty (along with 0204 for officers) was opened to women to help meet current operational needs.

It appears the Corps failed to make that notification until after officials from the Hill probably forced the suspension of 0211 for female Marines, according to correspondence related to the incident. Legislative sources around DoD say such notifications are fairly routine. Senior leaders in the intelligence field allege it may have been disgruntled Marines who tipped off lawmakers.

Headquarters Marine Corps Manpower officials say the Corps got a little ahead of itself. They maintain the MOS is not closed, and rumors of congressional involvement are absurd.

But why the year delay in notification?

Public notice about 0211 abounded. Aside from the Headquarters Marine Corps road show, in Sept. 2008 a story announcing the opening of 0211 to women ran in the Okinawa Marine. Marine Forces Reserve announced it in the Jan. 2009 issue of its Continental Marine, encouraging interested Marines to contact the G-2, the command intelligence section.

Since it appears the Marine Corps believed the change had occurred, it remains unclear why the notification, which must include a legal justification, had been overlooked – or deliberately ignored.
The Marine Corps says it has forwarded the notification to the Hill, but according to a House Armed Services Committee representative, no one knows of the notification or the 0211 topic. Calls to the Senate side went unreturned, including those to Arizona Sen. John McCain’s press representative. Despite Title 10 restrictions, the Marine Corps maintains it can train any Marines it wishes regardless of specialty. It seems that bonuses approaching $80,000 would not be included in such training, as it seems was the case with the sergeant recently denied the 0211 designator.

Notifications must remain at Congress for 30 consecutive days while it is in session before a service can make its desired changes. Given the upcoming holidays, the Corps’ notification will not enter such a window until next year, according to a Marine official familiar with the matter.

Is this any way to run a war?

This single MOS highlights flaws in Title 10 as they relate to the combat exclusion of women. Section 541 is a brief, but potent, passage to which lawmakers seem to cling. Former Hill liaisons and lawyers with whom we spoke suggest this is one way for lawmakers to maintain influence in military policy, though they already control the purse strings. The 0211 incident begs the question: Has Title 10 and its combat exclusion passage reached functional obsolesce? Why must the services continue to notify Congress of certain personnel decisions? The Hill sits in judgment on matters of internal import to the services.

Civilians control the military, and it seems a decision on 0211 may be a matter better determined by the litany of assistant secretaries, service heads and the secretary of defense. The HASC and SASC may have more agendas than it has members.

Mais, n’important: Marine Corps inaction has jeopardized its own intelligence efforts.

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