Marine Corps Combat Instructor Role Once Again a Special Duty Assignment

U.S. Marines with the School of Infantry-East, Combat Instructor School
U.S. Marines with the School of Infantry-East, Combat Instructor School, engage in a simulated firefight at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 24, 2023. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Zachary M. Candiani)

Combat instructors -- Marines who teach entry-level devil dogs basic warfighting skills -- are once again a special duty assignment.

As of May, the combat instructor, which is open to infantry Marines, is again one of these assignments after it was dropped from the criteria several years ago. The change was announced by the service's Manpower and Reserve Affairs division earlier this month.

Special duty assignments, or SDAs, are billets outside of a Marine's primary job and include being a recruiter, drill instructor and security guard. Sometimes those assignments are voluntary, but other times Marines are ordered into them.

Read Next: Army Identifies Explosive Ordnance Officer Who Died After a Fall During Training at Fort Johnson

"I went through combat instructor school back in 2015," Gunnery Sgt. Tyler Stokes, an enlisted assignments monitor for combat instructors, said in a video released by the service. "It's an extremely rewarding duty because you actually get to affect and to teach the warfighting skills that all Marines learn through the entry-level training pipeline, and it's really critical for the operational readiness of the force."

Stokes said that the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Eric Smith, issued guidance earlier this year that said the combat instructor role would once again be a special duty assignment.

Combat instructors teach Marines weapons handling, employment of automatic weapons, the nuances of munition types, land navigation, communications, tactics and patrolling, among other tasks critical for young troops entering the Corps.

Typically, tours for combat instructors, and other special duty assignments, are three years. Marines coming back for a second tour may have their assignment shortened to two years, according to a previous Marine Corps message.

Marines assigned to the combat instructor role are primarily sent to the Corps' two infantry schools, located on each coast. Specifically, they are assigned to Camp Pendleton, California, or Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Prior to being assigned to the installations, prospective combat instructors go through the Marine Combat Instructor School, or MCIS, a nine-week course that includes written exams, combat conditioning, employment of different weapons systems and other tasks that Marines will be expected to hand down to future generations of infantrymen.

The job is open to volunteers, a spokesperson from Manpower and Reserve Affairs wrote in an email to on Tuesday.

"However, it may be staffed with involuntary assignments to fill vacancies and achieve maximum billet fill," Capt. Sarah Eason, the spokesperson, added. "Unlike the other SDAs, there are only a limited number of combat instructor billets open to any primary military occupational specialty (MOS), and these routinely fill with volunteers."

The special duty assignment also comes with some perks, Eason said, including special pay, the Marine Corps Combat Instructor Ribbon, promotion board precepts, and a "choice of specific geographic area for the next duty station following tour completion," she said.

Related: Marine Corps Offering Thousands of Dollars in Bonuses in Push for More Intelligence Specialists

Story Continues