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Marine Corps Commandant General Eric Smith Calls for Mandatory Indo-Pacific Tours for All Marines


Marine Corps Commandant General Eric Smith recently issued a compelling call to action, urging all Marines to consider a stint in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command theater of operations.

Marine Corps Commandant General Eric Smith Calls for Mandatory Indo-Pacific Tours for All Marines (Photo: War on the Rocks)

Clarity Amidst Promotion Speculations

In a recent development featured by Task and Purpose, in October 04, 2023, a video message alongside Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Carlos Ruiz, General Eric Smith emphasized that a career remains incomplete without exposure to the diverse challenges presented in this crucial region, spanning Japan, Guam, the Philippines, and Australia. While not explicitly linking promotions to Pacific assignments, General Eric Smith’s words are resonating across the ranks, sparking discussions about the potential impact on career trajectories.

Despite assertions from Marine Major Joshua Larson, General Eric Smith’s spokesperson, that promotion decisions are based on skills and merits rather than duty stations, the ripple effect of the commandant’s words is undeniable. Marine Corps commandants are known for providing implicit guidance through public statements, and General Eric Smith’s encouragement echoes sentiments reminiscent of past leaders.

As the Marine Corps undergoes a significant force structure overhaul to align with 21st Century challenges, General Eric Smith’s focus on the Indo-Pacific theater becomes pivotal. The activation of the 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment and plans for similar units underscore the Corps’ strategic pivot, raising questions about whether future promotions might subtly favor those with Indo-Pacific experience.

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Strategic Insight or Career Influence?

According to the report released by Marine Forces Pacific, retired Marine Lt. Col. Dakota Wood suggests that General Eric Smith’s remarks should be interpreted more as a general endorsement of the diverse challenges found in the Indo-Pacific rather than a directive on career paths. The Marine Corps, reverting to its amphibious roots, is focusing on the Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations concept, aligning with the geography of the Indo-Pacific.

While General Eric Smith’s words might not alter official policy, Katherine Kuzminski of the Center for a New American Security emphasizes the potential influence on promotion boards. Individual preferences, shaped by the perceived relevance of Indo-Pacific experience, could play a role in shaping career trajectories, adding a layer of complexity to the already intricate process of Marine Corps promotions.

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