QUANTICO, VA — U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Christian Carrasco, an environmental compliance officer with Combat Logistics Battalion 25 and native of Poteet, Texas has always dreamed of becoming a Marine Corps officer. “I feel like I have something to offer to the Marine Corps, seeing the officers in their uniforms at the ball and seeing the way they carry themselves…I would like to be that figure for my Marines one day.” Little did he know, a trip to the National Capital Region would allow him to see just how capable he is of embodying the very figure he hopes to be for his Marines.

The goal of the three-day excursion – give Marines a glimpse behind the curtain of what it takes to be a Marine officer and show a pathway to that career, if desired. “It was such a good program I don’t want them to change a thing, I hope other Marines get the same opportunity as me.”

The Diversity AIMED Officer Program, known as DAOP, strives to attract high-performing Marines from historically underrepresented populations and provide them with the opportunity to visualize and gain insight on the commissioning process in order to continue filling the officer corps with different life perspectives. A Marine Forces Reserve original initiative, this year’s DAOP took place August 15-18, 2023, in various locations near Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, and Washington D.C.

During DAOP, enlisted Marine participants were placed into small groups and paired with officer mentors. Together, they visited Officer Candidates School, The Basic School, Marine Corps University, the National Museum of the Marine Corps and Marine Barracks Washington. The Marines also spoke with senior leaders and sat down with Marine Corps officer recruiters to discuss their individual situations and find out which commissioning program would suit them best.

Lt. Gen. David Bellon, commander, Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces South said talent management programs like this are all about creating the most lethal team of Marines from all different walks of life. “Pulling top-tier talent from our enlisted ranks and getting them to consider a career as officers is all about increasing our warfighting effectiveness.” Furthermore, examining problems through multiple lenses, gives the ability to approach them from different angles and increase the speed and chances of identifying solutions.

Bellon continued, “The problem sets Marines face around the globe are very complex and ever changing. And if we’re in the business of going into crises, and accurately framing problems, and then seeing possible solutions, we will certainly benefit by continuing to grow a diversified bench of senior leaders who can see the problem as broadly as possible.” Bellon is a a native of Fort Polk, Louisiana.

“Pulling top-tier talent from our enlisted ranks and getting them to consider a career as officers is all about increasing our warfighting effectiveness”.Lt. Gen. David Bellon, commander, Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces South

The potential of these exceptional Marines was not only obvious to their immediate leadership, but external leadership as well. After being nominated by their leadership, a board of four commissioned officers and two senior staff noncommissioned officers form Marine Forces Reserve selected the top 40 Marines out of 85 applicants

The program’s senior leaders are highly enthusiastic about the benefits of bringing such talented and diverse Marines together.

“As an American military branch, we should look like the country that we serve,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Billy Richardson, senior enlisted advisor of Marine Forces Reserve G-1 and DAOP selection board member, mentor and native of Las Vegas, Nevada. He went on to explain how the Marine Corps’ primary doctrine on warfighting applies to programs like this. “It says ‘In order to maximize combat power, we must use all the available resources to our best advantage.’ In the same way that we understand and prize diversity of combat arms, we should seek out and prize the diversification of our teams. Similar problem-framing can be catastrophic, while diverse perspective is essential to win the fight. We must capitalize on all our talent within the Corps. This program helps to hone-in on those historically underrepresented talents.”

Richardson went on to explain how Marines were selected and what it is like to be a part of the decision-making process.

“Unlike promotion or Marine of the Quarter boards that select Marines solely based on their past performance, we looked at a combination of the Marines’ performance as well as their potentiality of becoming a Marine Corps officer. We also took into consideration their professed attributes both strengths and challenges or opportunities of improvement, their interests, as well as their reasoning for wanting to attend this year’s program.”

The Marines selected got a glimpse into the training aspiring officers go through at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. They completed physical training, classes, the Leadership Reaction Course and the Tarzan Course.

“My favorite experience was the Tarzan course. I was a bit nervous but once I got there that boot camp mentality snapped in and I was ready, just being myself,” said Sgt. Yanick Yorot, S-1 non-commissioned officer in charge, Marine Air Control Group 48, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Jacqueline Clifford)

The Marines also received a tour of Marine Corps University and received a class detailing higher education opportunities and career options for the officer community.

Article adopted from 5 SEP 2023 | Lance Cpl. Ashley CorboU.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve

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