It has been the mantra of America’s premier fighting force and has drawn thousands of recruits to the Marine Corps: Every Marine a rifleman. The idea that every Marine, regardless of specialty, will know how to load and accurately fire a rifle out to 500 yards has helped give the Marine Corps the reputation as the toughest branch of the military. However, the four years I’ve spent in the service proved to me not only that is this not true, but that the belief that no Marine is special, that all Marines are the same, and that every Marine is a rifleman is detrimental to the Corps.
On its face, it is true: Every Marine is a rifleman. At bootcamp, every Marine must receive a passing score on the rifle range, showing at least a basic proficiency with the weapon. However, when one compares the tasks of a Marine who only takes an annual trip to the rifle range to get his or her yearly qualification with those of a Marine in the infantry, the weakness of this equivalence becomes clear.