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Force Recon Plt. leads way with reenlistments

4 Dec 2002 | Sgt. Zachary A. Bathon 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Since the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) activated last January there have been a number of Marines who have reenlisted, but one section in particular is setting the example for the rest of the MEU.

That is the MEU's Force Reconnaissance Platoon, which has reenlisted nine of its 25 Marines since activation. Five of the reenlistments have occurred since the MEU left for its recent deployment back in August.

According to Gunnery Sgt. Tim Hatcher, platoon sergeant, Force Recon Platoon, Operation Enduring Freedom may be a contributing factor to these numbers.

"In my limited experience, when the current world situation changes, as it has, our numbers usually increase," said Hatcher. "Men in Force Recon are all alpha male volunteers. When the opportunity comes along for them to put their high-dollar trade-craft into action, they usually jump on it."

He also noted the age and rank of his men might play a role in their decision to reenlist since most of them have been in the Corps a while and have a lot of valuable training and knowledge.

"Our men are usually of higher rank and age. This in itself may be a contributing factor," said Hatcher. "By (Table of Organization), the platoon sergeant is a gunnery sergeant and the team leaders and assistant team leaders are staff sergeants. Most of the remaining team members are senior sergeants."

Those who have reenlisted since the activation are Staff Sgt. Sean P. Davis, Staff Sgt. Scott M. Day, Staff Sgt. Walter V. Hubbard Jr., Staff Sgt. Charles E. Snyder Jr., Staff Sgt. James R. Stivers, Sgt. James I. Davies, Sgt. Jason A. Johnson, Sgt. Daniel E. Balenger, and Cpl. Osee R. Fagan III.

While these numbers not only look impressive, they are also helping out the Reconnaissance field overall, which is closing in on its Table of Organization goal.

"Force Recon is alive and well," said Master Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Settelen III, Marine-Air Ground Task Force Special Operations Section, Expeditionary Policies Branch, Headquarters Marine Corps. "Our numbers as of Oct. 2, when the last (Basic Reconnaissance Course) classes graduated and we moved men around, showed the community was at 92.4 percent and closing on a goal of 95 percent of all recon T/O."

This goal can be achieved in December with the graduation of the next BRC class. "We will pull a report then, and I am forecasting 95 percent of the T/O if the numbers hold," said Settelen. "This doesn't mean we have hit the gold ring, but it does mean that we are ahead of where we promised the Commandant of the Marine Corps we would be."

"We told him it would take until 2004-2005 to hit 95 percent," added Settelen. "We are two years ahead of schedule." He also reminds that not all of those men are out of school yet which is where they should be before they start announcing a success story.

Settelen also notes that there is approval to start and form a Marine Detachment with U.S. Special Operations Command and they are fighting for more recon structure this year.  

That combined with the high retention the field is achieving has put Recon in a healthy state. "We are better than we have been for the last 8 years," said Settelen. "But we are not quite there."

The MEU's Reconnaissance Battalion Platoon is also following in the footsteps of their Recon brothers with two Marines, Sgt. Alan C. Poe and Sgt. Travis P. Hillman having already reenlisted. They also have two more Marines whose reenlistment packages have been approved.