Officer development in the Marine Corps largely is focused on preparing Marines for command, and promotion hinges chiefly on an officer’s potential as a commanding officer. But only a small minority of officers are in command at any given time. Even fewer are destined to command battalion-sized or larger units. On the other hand, most officers will serve on staffs for much of their careers, and good staff officers are rare and valuable. Yet the Marine Corps does a poor job identifying and using them, the term “staff officer” has an undeservedly negative connotation, and the service forces every officer onto the command track—or out of the service—even if his or her talents and interests lend themselves to staff work. To fix this, the Marine Corps should create a staff officer career track.
1. LtCol Donald Thieme, “Staff Officer Leadership: Not Everyone Gets a Command,” Marine Corps Gazette (April 2009).