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Marine Corps Base Quantico

"Crossroads of the Marine Corps"

Eyes up top: enlisted assignment monitors

By Cpl. Paris Capers | Marine Corps Base Quantico | May 07, 2013


When the time comes for the Corps to shuffle the decks and move Marines to new duty stations, the Marines assigned as military occupational specialty monitors make sure the needs of the Corps are met while trying to accommodate the needs of individual Marines.

            Tucked away on the third floor of the James W. Marsh Center just off Russell Road, Manpower Management Enlisted Assignments is the hub that makes decisions effecting Marines at every rung of the enlisted rank ladder Corpswide.

 “A monitor manages an entire occupational specialty,” said Sgt. Maj. John Armstead, MMEA sergeant major, the top enlisted Marine in the assignment process.

            Every Marine who currently serves as a monitor is handpicked, said Armstead. After narrowing the spread to three or four options, he and his fellow senior staff noncommissioned officers choose the best possible man or woman, in the rank of gunnery sergeant or higher.

            Marines who have demonstrated diversity and boast well-rounded careers are prime candidates, Armstead said.

“We want Marines who have served in different elements of the [Marine Air Ground Task Force], and have gained credibility by moving around in the different aspects within their field,” he said.

Marines deemed “duty experts” in their fields are very competitive, he added, and those who have successful tours on special duty assignments are looked upon favorably, as well.

            “These are the Marines who talk to the population and mentor them regarding career progression and future assignment opportunities,” said Armstead.

            They decide where every enlisted Marine goes and are more than qualified to make that call, according to Master Gunnery Sgt. Norman Crowe, an artillery enlisted assignments monitor.

            “Every monitor is different in his approach, but we make assignments based on two things,” he said. “First and foremost, we look at the needs of the Marine Corps; i.e., is there a billet open? But we also look at the needs of the individual Marine, too.”

            “We could probably develop a computer program that would do this for us - simply filling open spaces - but we offer the benefit of having someone knowledgeable in the community to ensure career progression and career enhancement are available for each Marine,” said Crowe.

            The human element can become a challenge, according to Master Sgt. Howard Jones, the assignments monitor for the food service and Marine Corps Community Services population.

            “When you get to this level, you have to separate the friendships you’ve built from the professional decisions you’re making,” Jones said. “[Monitors] must find a way to make sure the right person is in the right place, because we are subject matter experts on putting Marines in the right place.”

Marines can contact their respective monitors, but are encouraged to use their chain-of-command.

Each monitor’s contact information can be found online at, under the enlisted assignments section, or by name within the Global Address List.

According to Jones, Marines must stay proactive and contact their monitor at least six months out from the standard 36-months on station to discuss possible duty stations and opportunities, but they must also be honest about their situations.

            “Don’t make up stories when you’re talking to your monitor, because nine times out of 10, those stories will fall apart when you peel back the layers,” said Jones. “We’ve gotten very good at peeling back the layers up here.”

            Every monitor deals with his Marines differently, but each has his population’s best interests at heart, according to Jones.

            “If a Marine calls me, I will always answer the phone, but the first thing I ask is have they spoken to their NCOs and staff NCOs first,” Jones said. “If not, I’ll give that Marine’s staff NCOs a courtesy call and tell them their Marines are looking for answers they may be able to give them.”


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