Marine Distribution Management Specialist

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Not all jobs can be guts and glory, my friends, but they have to get done.

You may think, for example, that getting Marines and their gear overseas is only handled by the "Red Patchers" (landing support technicians) on the beachheads and the air delivery specialists dumping stuff out of C-130s.

Speaking as a Marine who has always gotten to his destination on commercial flights, I tell you to think again.

Duties and Responsibilities

Marines in military occupational specialty (MOS) 3112, distribution (or traffic) management specialists, deal with what has become common in the modern age of American warfare: Juggling military and contracted civilian transportation for the bulk of the troops and equipment needed to sustain a large-scale overseas deployment. Of course, 3112s also assist Marines and their families with routine moves from base to base by contracting with civilian moving companies.

Specifically, the Marines' MOS Manual states that a 3112 performs daily functions in "[w]arehousing, marine, rail, motor and air terminal operations, [and] materials handling, packing, packaging, preservation, and hazardous materials handling functions."

Military Requirements

The first step to getting the job is scheduling a time with your recruiter to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).

For MOS 3112, aspiring Marines need at least a 90 general technical (GT) score.

A current civilian driver's license is also required. Although you may go through a background check prior to signing your enlistment papers, distribution management specialists don't technically need a security clearance until they reach the rank of staff sergeant (E-6), at which point they must be eligible for secret clearance.

Education

The great adventure is always becoming a Marine. Of course, that's a process that could fill books and books of memoirs, but for the basic run-down, check out Rod Powers' article on surviving Marine basic training. If you prove worthy enough to wear the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, the next step is a few weeks of Marine combat training (for non-infantry MOS's), then on to formal training for the job.

For that, Marines attend the Basic Distribution Management Specialist Course aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The course lasts five weeks, according to the American Council on Education (ACE) Military Guide, and consists of "[a]udiovisual materials, practical exercises, discussion, classroom exercises, and lecture."

According to a 2005 article by Marine public affairs correspondent Brandon Holgersen, the school's location provides important networking and cross-training opportunities with Marines who work in closely related job fields. Another added bonus is that, on a large base like Camp Lejeune, Marines who arrive with a few weeks to spare until the next course begins can go to nearby units "to get on-the-job training while they wait to start class instead of doing menial chores." That may not sound like much, but trust me -- I remember spending three weeks doing nothing but mopping floors and standing at a gate when I got to my first MOS school.

Take the on-the-job training.

Credentials and Outlook

There aren't many civilian credentials available for a Marine in MOS 3112, though the job is eligible for journeyman apprenticeship as a computer operator through the United Services Military Apprenticeship Program. The ACE Guide also recommends that colleges may award transfer credit to MOS school graduates for "3 semester hours in distribution, logistics, or management elective."

As for career outlook -- just be careful to remain professional and seek to be the best version of yourself. Even in the Marines, there's always "that ten percent" of folks who sit at the bottom of the barrel and try to slip by without doing their jobs properly, resulting in unflattering (admittedly anecdotal) observations like like these: "Many of your coworkers are wastes of oxygen," or, "Your job is soul-sucking and boring."

Just a gentle reminder from your friendly neighborhood Sergeant Lucky to rise above such nonsense. Any career in the Marines is what you make it.

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