The Specialist vs. Corporal: All E-4s Are Not the Same
MARINE CORPS COMMAND AND STAFF COLL QUANTICO VA
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Liberty is sounded for all NCOs non-commissioned officers and hashed marked PFCs private first class E-2. The first edition of the Handbook for Marine NCOs uses this quote to illustrate the importance of the hash mark as a sign of seniority and experience. The quote has been banished to the lore of the old Corps as Marines are promoted much quicker today and the importance and prestige of the hash mark has diminished over time. The promotion rates for junior Marines is much quicker today then it was when hash marks were the coveted symbol of a salty non-NCO. As late as the early 1990s though, it was still not uncommon to see a Lance Corporal, E-3, wearing a hash mark symbolizing at least four years of service. Today with quicker promotions, a Lance Corporal with a hash mark is considered to be a less than a stellar Marine or a troubled young Marine who was not promoted with his peers. Many Marines today are promoted to Sergeant, E-5, before reaching the four years time in service. Currently the minimum time in grade for a lance corporal to be eligible for promotion to corporal, E-4, is only eight months. To preserve the prestige of the NCO ranks, the Marine Corps needs to adopt a rank structure similar to the Army model which reflects two separate grades for E-4, one for the current grade of corporal and another that is a non-NCO.
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