Lateral Moves

Making the decision to stick with the Corps for another tour isn't always easy. Even after a Marine decides to stay for four more, the Corps may have other plans. It may be possible, however, to turn the Corps' "no" into a "yes."

The Corps manages the population of military occupational specialties with a predetermined number of slots. Competing for these limited slots, known as "boat spaces," sometimes blocks a Marine from staying in the Corps for another term.

This is where the lateral move program can provide a solution.

"When Marines decide to reenlist, they (can) either stay in their MOS - if they get a boat space - or they have to make a lateral move if they want to stay in," said Gunnery Sgt. Stuart Morvant, the Corps' Manpower Management Enlisted Assignments lateral move chief. If an MOS has no more boat spaces, it is considered closed for re-enlistment. Most Marines are eligible to reenlist one year before their End of Active Service date, but first-termers cannot re-enlist until they are in the same fiscal year as their EAS. For example, a Marine whose EAS is May 2006 is not eligible to re-enlist until October 2005, the beginning of fiscal year 2006.

First termers have another concern - boat spaces. There are only a limited number of boat spaces open for first termers in any MOS. When more Marines apply to re-enlist in an MOS than are boat spaces available, the surplus Marines must find a new job - make a lat move into a new MOS.

The first step in making a lat move is to visit the career retention specialist.

"Come with three lat move choices in your head," said Gunnery Sgt. Charletta R. Anderson, Quantico's career retention specialist. "That way if you don't qualify for an MOS or an MOS is closed, we can fall back on the next choice.

When a Marine has only one MOS that (he or she) wants to lat move into, it makes it hard."

First-term Marines re-enlisting from a closed MOS may apply to lat move into any open MOS. They need a better chance of getting their choice if they apply for an MOS with a critical shortfall and a dire need of personnel to fill the ranks.

Although the shortfalls may vary, the following MOS are open and currently rate selective re-enlistment bonuses due to manpower needs:

• 0211 Counter Intelligence Specialist

• 0241 Imagery Analysis Specialist

• 2336 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician

• 2823 Technical Controller

• 2834 Satellite Communications Technician

• 4429 Legal Services Reporter (Stenotype)

• 6316 Air Communication/Navigation Systems Technician

These MOSs are very demanding, said Morvant. "For most of them, you need to conduct an interview before being considered and for some you (need) a (top secret) clearance.”

In addition to the interviews and clearance level, these undermanned MOSs require high general technical scores from the Armed Services Vocation Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).

"Lat moving into any MOS depends on your qualifications and your ASVAB score," said Capt. Tricia Angelini, First Term Alignment Plan officer.

" If you want to lat move and you have a low GT score, retake the ASVAB."

Angelini advises Marines to take their time on the test and study in advance if they decide to retake the ASVAB.

"When Marines wait until the last minute, they don't study as much as they should and sometimes they end up getting an even lower score," she explained. "You don't get to keep the higher of the two, it's the most recent score (that's kept)."

Once a Marine is deemed qualified for a particular MOS, a Reenlistment/Extension or Lateral Move routing sheet is sent through the chain of command.

"The RELM routing sheet is a discussion sheet to let the chain of command know what the Marine is planning to do," said Anderson. "It states whether or not Marines are medically and dentally qualified, what their last physical fitness test score was, and if they have any pending legal issues.

The sheet goes from their staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge to their officer-in-charge and all the way up to the battalion commander. The commander's recommendation is the only one that goes to Headquarters Marine Corps Manpower Enlisted Assignments to make the decision."

Although lat moves are intended to allow first-term Marines whose primary MOS is closed an opportunity to stay in the Corps, there are other situations where a lat move can be an appropriate career decision.

"Restructuring or downsizing of an MOS, the phase-out of legacy aircraft and military-to-civilian conversions are some indicators that a Marine would want to look at a lat move," said Maj. Mark Menotti, MMEA deputy head.

"Sometimes Marines try to lat move because they want a change of pace - something new," said Angelini.

If a Marine requests to lat move from an open MOS, he or she must obtain a commanding general's endorsement.

"It all depends on the needs of the Marine Corps," said Anderson. "Lat moves are not a guarantee."

For more information on making a lat move and Marine Corps MOS fields, visit MMEA at, or talk with your career retention specialist.