Terran Marine Corps Training and Organisation
(Several people asked, so I wrote. Comments welcome.)
Upon deciding to join the Corps (and having downloaded basic information from the Empire’s datanet) the prospective recruit visits a recruiting office on his or her homeworld, where they are interviewed by a Recruiting Sergeant. If they pass muster (a Recruiting Sergeant, who is an immensely experienced Marine, has the power to reject any candidate if they feel off to him) they will be given a time (and starship ticket) to report to the Sector Boot Camp. Those who don’t turn off will simply be stricken from the rolls and denied any chance to try again.
As a general rule, the Marines will give anyone a chance unless they have a serious criminal record or health problems that require permanent treatment.
Once at Boot Camp, the new recruits will be sworn in as Recruits, segregated by sex and start the first training cycle. Basic Training lasts three to six months, separating the recruits and ensuring that only the best get put forward for the Slaughterhouse. (Failed recruits who show promise are often given a chance to join the Imperial Army or the Civil Guard instead.) Those who make it through get transported to the Slaughterhouse for the next stage of their training. (It isn’t uncommon for barely five percent of the recruits to make it through, if that.)
Slaughterhouse training lasts up to two years, starting with intensive infantry training and blurring into a series of Military Operational Specialities training sessions (each Marine is expected to have at least two MOS under their belt by the time they graduate.) The successful candidates undertake their final test – the dreaded Crucible – and are then granted their Rifleman’s Tab … and the right to be called Marines. Each tab, worn on the shoulder, is tailored to its wearer; traditionally, they are returned to the Slaughterhouse when the Marine dies. (Unsurprisingly, there is a black market in Marine tabs, although it is thoroughly illegal.)
Candidates who fail the Slaughterhouse may be offered a chance to serve in the Marine Auxiliaries, as well as the option to retake the Crucible at a later date. Most Auxiliaries have an unfair reputation for not being good enough; most bomb-disposal officers, for example, are Auxiliaries. (Auxiliaries are not counted on a unit’s rolls, nor do they have authority over full Marines.)
Once qualified, the newly-minted Marine will be assigned to his or her new family – the Company.
The basic military unit in the Marine Corps is the Fire Team, consisting of three Rifleman.
There are generally three Fire Teams to a Platoon, plus the CO – who may be either a Sergeant or a Lieutenant. Official manpower; 10. (On active service, the CO generally leads one Fire Team.)
Ten Platoons make up a Company, the basic building block of Marine deployments. Companies are commanded by a Captain, who generally has 10 lieutenants or sergeants serving under him. Other officers may be attached depending on deployment. Companies have a formal designation such as 114th Company, but also have a nickname drawn from their CO’s surname – e.g. Stalker’s Stalkers. Unsurprisingly, some units have names that no one dares write down. Official manpower: 100
Ten Companies, plus HQ Staff, make up a Regiment. A Regiment is commanded by a Major or a Colonel, depending upon deployment, who is entitled to a staff of 5 additional officers. Official manpower: 1010.
Five Regiments, plus HQ staff, make up a Division, commanded by a Major-General. Official manpower: 5100.
In practice, Marines are trained to be immensely flexible as the textbook formation is often impractical for one reason or another.
The structure of the Marine Corps insists that every Marine is a Rifleman first. What that means, when it comes to promotions, is that every would-be officer is expected to serve at least two years as a Rifleman before being offered a chance at promotion. (The same goes for specialists and HQ staff, none of whom are allowed to remain at the rear for more than six months.)
Certain officer ranks – Lieutenant, Major and Colonel – are regarded as permanently brevet (temporary). It is not uncommon for a Marine to hold such ranks briefly and then return to their permanent rank, something that is not regarded as a demotion. The Peter Principle – everyone rises to one level above their competence – holds true in the military as well, so a young officer will be tested before being allowed to rise higher. If they are incapable of holding the position, for whatever reason, they will simply be returned to the ranks.
Permanent officer ranks – Rifleman, Corporal and Captain – are permanent promotions and demotion is considered a severe punishment. Prospective Captains (and higher ranks) are expected to return to the Slaughterhouse for Officer Candidate School. Generally, a prospective Captain would have extensive experience as a Lieutenant before being sent back to OCS.
NCOs share the baseline rank of Sergeant, then a specific rank depending upon their responsibilities. They are permanently attached to a specific Company – an NCO transferring is rare, unless they intend to aim for officer rank – and regarded as the Company’s backbone.