Acting Marine

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Acting Marine

Post  Michael Garber on Sun Apr 11, 2010 12:56 pm

Lock Your Body in the Position of Attention!
A Dirty Civvie's Guide to Marine Social Life


Alright maggots listen up. It has come to the attention to many of us real-life vets on this thing that your portrayals of military life are limited to Hollywood blockbuster action movies and second hand shit you've heard from other sources. I am afraid you grabastic fat-bodies are sorely mistaken, allow Corporal Parker to educate your sorry asses in this primer I like to call "your basic guide to pretending to be a Marine but don't think you are one you nasty civvie fat-body!!"

First up let's have a little discussion about social status within the Marine Corps. You have your three types of rank structure: Enlisted (common), Warrant (not very common) and Commissioned (somewhat common). Within each of these structures (aside from Warrant) there are sub-groups, quasi-official "levels" of where you stand in the great big food chain that is DotN-USMC (that's Department of the Navy - United States Marine Corps for you uninformed. Yes the Marines is a Department of the Navy, the MEN'S DEPARTMENT!)

Enlisted
There are three basic levels here, you can tell which is which because they also have their own individual base clubs/bars.

First up are the enlisted, non-rates, boots. That's E-1 (Private) to E-3 (Lance Corporal) ranks. You salute everything that shines, you call anyone with more than one chevron by their rank, and you learn the POA (position of attention) as a survival reflex whenever talking to anyone with a billet with responsibilities (fire team leader on up). You'll be doing a lot of "motivational training"; that's the nice, politically correct way of saying getting your ass run the fuck around, they'll get creative on you too. Ever clean the inside of an LAV with a rifle brush the night after you stood a double fire watch? How about wind sprints up Hill Two-Nine until you puke your guts out? Yeah it's fun. If you're smart you keep your big mouth shut and only sound off when spoken to, learn what you can from your Corporals and Sergeants, and try to get "senior Lance" status.

Next we have the NCOs (Noncommissioned officers), E-4 and E-5s, the Corporals and Sergeants. Now you're not really getting screwed around with. Sure every once in a while some staff NCOs gonna come around to give you some motivational training, just so you remember what it was like back in "boot" status, but now you're the glue of the Platoon. These motivated Marines will be your Fire Team Leaders (sometimes that will be a Lance), Squad Leaders and so on. You educate, motivate, and assassinate as an NCO. Single NCOs are housed in the same BEQs (Bachelor Enlisted Quarters) as their E-1 to E-3 counterparts (with of course slightly nicer rooms and fewer roommates as a reward). This means you never really escape those Corporals you pissed off on duty today. You had a hard day with Cpl. Meyers running your ass around because you got caught with your boots unbloused and you've finally fallen out for evening libo, when the banging comes on your door (NCOs NEVER just knock), there stands Cpl. Meyers in PT gear with a grin on his face. "Suit up PFC, you and me are going on a little walk." Oh yes, boot, the fun has JUST begun. Staff NCOs and Officers are like the parents and NCOs are your older siblings. Sure if "mom and dad" are around they behave themselves for the most part, but brass and SNCOs are usually busy and away...and big brother can be a twisted sumbitch.

Finally we have the big dogs. The men and women that get shit done, the motivated, dedicated Staff NCOs. These are your gods, boot; they do everything for you short of wiping your ass. Those new combat boots you're wearing? Thank Gunny for getting your yearly uniform allowance applied to your Navy Federal account. That gunship that showed up just as the shit hit the fan? 1stSgt ripped the flyboys a new asshole on comm to get that priority to your position. E-6s to E-9s are the high-grade combat steel that the keel of this hulking battleship we call the "Marine Corps" is built from. First you have your Platoon Sergeants (E-6s), these are the guys that are babysitting that overly educated 23 year old with gold bars on his collar and making sure he doesn't get you all killed. Next your Company Gunnies the LEGENDARY E-7s who can accomplish anything from getting a shipment of rifles diverted from Aidak AK to Afghanistan to getting your disgusting soft ass a chance to see the Navy head-shrinker because you had a stressful day (**cry cry**). Then your Company First Sgt (E-8), this man is god. The Captain barks out orders, the 1st Sgt figures out what the fuck his orders should be, make no mistake, "First Sergeant" (or occasionally "Top" if you have a Master Sgt in the billet) is the man who holds your life in balance. Finally at the Battalion level we have the Bn Sgt Major (E-9), if you see him and he's pissed off you will wish to heaven and hell that you had never been born.

Warrant
Warrant Officers come in a small few flavors and have very similar rank insignias among them (gold or silver bars with red blocks in them), if you happen to see one wearing a black "bursting bomb" on his left collar this is the Marine Gunner or Infantry Weapons Officer, pay this man the respect he has earned and you best be calling him "Gunner" when you aren't calling him Sir. DO NOT make the mistake some stupid boot I knew did and call him GUNNY because he will educate you on your extreme mis-step in rank protocol. Warrant officers serve in special technical billets and odds are you won't have a whole lot of interaction with them. One Warrant officer you may wish to acquaint yourself with is the head of your Battalion's Nuclear, Biological, Chemical unit (or "NBC Shop"). If NBC Shop transmits on the radio you will want to LISTEN trust me on this one, it's very important. Warrant Officers range from W-1 to CWO-5 (only 5 ranks) in the Marines, Navy doesn't have W-1s, starting at CWO-2 because apparently they're just special that way, if confused, boot, remember Marine WOs have red blocks in their insignia and Navy ones have blue blocks.

Commissioned
Officers have their own "levels of cool" just like Enlisted. For ease of reference I will refer to the groups by the level of command you will usually find them in high-ranking billets in; Platoon, Company, Battalion, or Flag.

First, Platoon level. 2nd Lieutenants and 1st Lieutenants. You will generally (if not saying "sir or ma'am") refer to either as "Lieutenant". If you want to get really formal, you can say "1st Lieutenant So and So" but Lieutenant is fine. The difference between the two ranks is mostly a matter of time in service and a formality. They can and do fill the same billets and it's not uncommon to have a Company where you just have 1st Lts and no 2nd Lts (as I did in mine). Your Company XO (the guy directly under the Captain) will usually be a 1st Lt, however.

Next up, the Company level. Your Company Commander will generally be a Captain, although sometimes a Major will fill this billet. Majors, however, are generally in charge of important Battalion level departments (S shops and the like) or Bn XOs (sometimes even Bn Commanders themselves). Safe bet, if you see "railroad tracks" (Captain's insignia) or a gold oak leaf salute and do what it says, and move your ass. You'll have a decent amount of interaction with Company Commander usually, and probably a few key O-3s and O-4s around the Battalion, basically as long as you look busy and do as told they won't go out of their way to make things miserable. One important unofficial acronym to remember in the Company level is CHAOS, Captain Has Arrived On Scene. The meaning is in the acronym word.

Next we have the Battalion/Regiment level, the Lt. Colonels and Colonels. Usually a Lt. Col will be in charge of your Bn while Colonels are usually Regimental Commander. You won't run into these much, but when you do the above rules apply doubly. Sound off, do as told double-time and don't let them start to notice you in a bad way.

Finally we have Flag officers, the Generals. If you see stars, hit the POA, start saluting and sound off if they ask you anything. Basically act like a textbook respectful Marine until they go away. You rarely run into a General, but when you do you'll notice they have a little group of lackies tailing them trying to get noticed for a promotion. Don't worry too much, Generals have far better things to do with their time then make the life of some boot enlisted hell.

Okay worms, you've gotten your little briefing on the realities of rank structure. Now let's talk uniform and ceremonial regulations in brief. This isn't close-order drill and useless shit like that, this is day-to-day stuff that you DO NOT FUCK UP as a Marine.

Not Looking Like a Bag of Ass
First up let's talk duty uniform. Unless you're some pogue-ass bitch riding a desk all the time you'll spend the vast majority of your time on the job in BDUs, battle dress utilities; also called "boots and utes", or "cammies". A few important things to remember, it's not a "hat" it's a cover; you do not wear the cover like a baseball cap like your back on the block, you wear it in the proper Corps fashion. You remove your cover while indoors or on PT unless you are standing guard duty or during certain ceremonies. In the Marine Corps your trouser legs are "bloused" to your boots, this is one thing that separates us, in uniform, from those nasty Army doggies. Little elastic cords with metal hooks go on the inside along your upper boot and you tuck the bottom of the trousers in under in a specific manner, it's easy to do once you learn how.

While on base, your cammies maintain a respectable appearance, they should be cleaned, ironed at least every other day and your boots polished (less so now of course with the desert boots being standard issue, but what's standard issue in the 23rd century I'm not sure). In the field, this shit goes out the window, looking good is much less important then keeping your gear serviceable and you'll likely come back with some pretty skanky looking combat boots. If wearing dress uniform, it should ALWAYS follow regulations for decoration depending on uniform level of the day (e.g. Deltas, Charlies, Alphas) and appear crisply ironed with mirror-finish corfams (military leather dress shoes); males should shave daily and try for a haircut every week for inspections (twice a week if you're getting a Battalion or Regimental inspection) and the like (base haircuts are really cheap so it's not an issue), in the field try to keep this up but, again, the reality is a bit different. A little cologne or perfume is usually okay on base but don't you DARE wear that shit on a patrol or your squad leader will be stomping your guts into the nearest rock for tipping off the enemy to your position. You're not going to look pretty in the field, face facts boot.

Next a few basic regulations. First up saluting. You only salute while "covered" which is wearing your soft cover. I've already discussed the times when you wear the soft cover, while saluting (and yes you can salute while walking or even running), give the Officer(s) a greeting such as "Good afternoon, sir (gentleman)" or "Good morning ma'am (ladies)". Remember to never call an Enlisted sir or ma'am (the one exception being in Boot Camp), unless you'd like a personal "education" in why you don't call enlisted "sir" and "ma'am". Under very, very, very few circumstances do you salute in the field, officers do not appreciate becoming a target for enemy snipers. If some pogue Colonel insists you salute him (with his big eagle pinned to his flak no less) humor the bastard and then laugh as the SEAL sniper pops him with a Simunition paint round from the nearby hill (true story, happened to me as a senior Lance...Chair Farce bastard).

Address enlisted E-4 and above by their title, such as "Corporal (So and So)" or "Yes, Corporal" when speaking or spoken to by them, or referring to them, as a sign of respect, some junior Marines call senior Lance Corporals by their title under this rule as well, especially if they're holding a Corporal's billet such as Fire Team Leader. Some of the ranks have informal titles you are generally safe using. Gunnery Sergeants are usually called "Gunny", Master Sergeants "Top", and Master Gunnery Sergeants "Master Guns". DO NOT EVER USE THE TERM SARGE. This is an Army term, and calling a Sergeant (let alone something like a Master Sergeant) this is a quick way to a boot stomping. When being spoken to by a senior Marine you respond "Yes (Corporal/Sergeant/Sir/whatever)" and "No (rank/sir/ma'am/whatever)". When being given an order you respond "Aye, aye (sir/ma'am/Sergeant/Gunny/etc)". Aye, aye is a term meaning "I hear the order, I understand the order, and I will carry out the order to the best of my ability." Alternately, it can mean "what you're saying is fucking stupid, but you outrank me so I have no choice but to obey."

You've noticed I'm mentioned the position of attention (usually called the POA). This is a very very important thing you learn from your first day in Boot Camp on up. The position of attention is just that; a body position that makes it appear you are paying full attention to the senior Marine talking to you. Body is straight, feet together at the heels spread at a 45 degree angle, head up chin slightly pulled in, arms at the side fingers curled with the thumb falling along the seam of your trousers. Remain silent and unmoving unless spoken to or given orders (such as "at ease" or "fall out"). The POA is assumed during formations until the "at ease" command is given or when being addressed by senior Marines. Basically if something important is being said or you're getting an ass-chewing, hit the POA some quick, boot!

I could go on for pages about regulations and how to act, but I don't have the time or energy to spend on you fat-bodies; so this is a basic guide on not looking like a bag-of-ass civilian while in uniform. Finally let's address some official (and common unofficial) terminology Devil Dogs like to use.

Official Terminology/Acronyms


Ranks
Enlisted: Private (Pvt), Private First Class (PFC), Lance Corporal (LCpl), Corporal (Cpl), Sergeant (Sgt), Staff Sergeant (SSgt), Gunnery Sergeant (GySgt), (the following are both E-8) Master Sergeant (MSgt), First Sergeant (1stSgt), (the following are all E-9) Master Gunnery Sergeant (MGySgt), Sergeant Major (SgtMaj), Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps (there is only ONE and if you meet him he is GOD, boot!) (SgtMajMC)
Warrant: Warrant Officer 1 (WO-1), Chief Warrant Officer (2-5) (CWO-(2,3,4, or 5))
Commissioned: 2nd Lieutenant (2ndLt), 1st Lieutenant (1stLt), Captain (Capt), Major (Maj), Lieutenant Colonel (LtCol), Colonel (Col), Brigadier General (BGen), Major General (MajGen), Lieutenant General (LtGen), General (Gen)

Units
Fire Team (FT), Squad (Sqd), Platoon (Plt), Company (Co), Battalion (Bn), Regiment (Rgt), Division (Div)

Important Terms and Acronyms
Aft - rear or behind you, back part of a ship
AO - Area of Operations; where your mission is taking place.
BAMCIS - Tactical decision making mnemonic. Begin Planning, Arrange Reconnaissance, Make Reconnaissance, Complete Planning, Issue Orders, Supervise.
Below - to go down a level or down the stairs "Head below and get the Chief"
BEQ/BOQ - Bachelor Enlisted/Officer Quarters, where single Marines can live on base. Usually segregated into types, BEQ with E-1 to E-5s, SNCO quarters with E-6 to E-9, and BOQs of various types for levels of officers).
Billet - your specific job in your unit, such as "2nd Fire Team rifleman" or "Company 1st Sergeant"
Blood stripe - red stripe on the blue dress uniform trousers worn by E-4s and above. "I'm just trying to stay alive long enough to get my blood stripe."
Brig - a place of confinement aboard ship or on base. "Cpl Ramsey's in the brig again, drunk driving."
Bulkhead - a wall
BZO - Battle Zero, setting up your rifle's sights to best suit your position of shooting. "BZO that rifle Private, and you'll be hitting black"
Cover - Gear worn on the head such as a soft cover or helmet OR areas of relative safety in a tactical situation. "Take off your cover, Private" "Bound for cover!"
CP - Command Post
CQB - Close Quarters Battle, kicking ass toe-to-toe
DD-214 - Discharge papers, many Marines anxiously await the day these come in
Deck - the floor
Ensign - the most junior Navy officer rank OR colors (or flag for you civvie bitches) aboard a ship
FMF - Fleet Marine Force; this is what you're in once you complete Boot and your schools. Congratulations.
FO - Forward Observer, a Marine with eyes-on the target who calls in artillery, mortar, air, or naval gunfire
Fore - in front of you, front part of a ship
Galley - kitchen aboard a ship
Hatch - a door or other entrance/exit
HE - High Explosive, if followed by AT (HEAT, anti-tank) or DP (HEDP, dual-purpose) run TWICE as fast
Head - bathroom, latrine, loo
HM(3rd letter usually H, X, L or the like) - Marine helicopter squadrons, the third letter is the type (X regular, H heavy, L light, etc)
JAG - Judge Advocate General, the lawyers and judges of the Navy/Marine Corps, nothing like the show
LZ - Landing zone, a cleared, secure (we hope) area for a helicopter or VTOL to land
MAGTF - Marine Air/Ground Task Force
Mast - a tall spar supporting the sails; in modern terms Mast (Captain's Mast, Meritorious Mast, etc) is used to denote a ceremony or punishment by a senior officer, "In lieu of non-judicial punishment, I would like to request Mast, Major."
MCT - Marine Combat Training, what pogues go through and then think they're Rifleman (HA!)
Mess/Mess Hall - where you eat your meals
MEU - Marine Expeditionary Unit
MOUT - Military operations in urban terrain
MOS - Military occupational specialty; your "job"
MRE - Meals Ready to Eat (or Meals Rejected by Ethiopeans), field issue rations containing several thousand calories each
NBC - Nuclear, Biological, Chemical
NJP - Non-judicial Punishment, you don't get court-martialed but you probably wish you had
OP - Observation Post
Overhead - the ceiling
Port - left, or a place for mooring a vessel
Portholes - windows; also slang for eye glasses.
PT - Physical Training, what your NCOs loooove to have you do.
Quarterdeck - a place of prominence aboard ship used for ceremonies...most Marines remember it as the spot in Boot Camp where they wanted to cry for mommy though
ROE - Rules of Engagement
SALUTE - an acronym for situation reports; Size, Activity, Location, Unit, Time, Equipment
Sick Bay - where you go when you have a boo-boo
SOI - School of Infantry; turns men into warriors
Starboard - right
T/O&E - Table of Operations and Equipment; the list of all the personnel and equipment a unit has at its disposal
Topside - upper part of the ship or building, to go up "Head topside and see what's going on"
UA - Unauthorized Absence; the Navy and Marine Corps correct version of AWOL
UCMJ - Uniform Code of Military Justice; the laws you must abide by as a Marine
VM(3rd letter usually F, B, A, or the like) - Marine air squadrons, the third letter is the type (F fighter, B bombers, A attack, etc) "VMAs from the 31st Air Wing"

Next Time: Casual Terminology - How Marines Talk; but for now; AT EASE RECRUITS!
-Master Sergeant Joseph M. Fowler, Second Force Recon Battalion
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Michael Garber
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