Happy 102nd Birthday to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve (USMCR)

Happy 102nd Birthday to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve (USMCR)

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The Marine Forces Reserve (MARFORRES or MFR) (also known as the United States Marine Corps Reserve (USMCR) and the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve) is the reserve force of the United States Marine Corps. It is the largest command in the U.S. Marine Corps.

The mission of Marine Forces Reserve is to augment and reinforce active Marine forces in time of war, national emergency or contingency operations, provide personnel and operational tempo relief for the active forces in peacetime, and provide service to the community (for example, through Toys for Tots).

The United States Marine Corps Reserve was established when Congress passed the Naval Appropriations Act of 29 August 1916 and is responsible for providing trained units and qualified individuals to be mobilized for active duty in time of war, national emergency or contingency operations. Marine forces Reserve also provides personnel and operational tempo relief for active component forces in peacetime.

MARFORRES comprises two groups of Marines and Sailors. The first, known as the Selected Marine Corps Reserve (SMCR), are Marines who belong to reserve units and drill one weekend a month and two weeks a year. The second group is known as the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR). The IRR is composed of Marines who have finished their active duty or USMCR obligations, however their names remain on the books to be called up in case of a war or other emergency – the Individual Ready Reserve is administered by the Marine Individual Reserve Support Organization. IRR Marines participate in annual musters to check in with the Corps. Reserve Marines are equipped and trained to the same standards as active.


Enlistment in the Marine Forces Reserve occurs through a process similar to that for enlistment in the regular active Marine Corps. Recruits must take the ASVAB, pass a comprehensive physical exam, and be sworn in. They may enter through a billet in the Delayed Entry Program (DEP). Reserve Recruits attend recruit training along with active duty recruits, claiming the title United States Marine upon successful completion of the training. They then have a mandatory leave of 10 days (up to 24 if they volunteer for and are assigned to recruiter’s assistance) before further training at the School of Infantry (SOI) and their designated Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). Only after completing the training program(s) does a Reserve Marine’s enlistment begin to differ from that of an active duty Marine.

There is a program called the Select Reserve Incentive Program (SRIP), which provides enlistment bonuses for Reservists enlisting for needed MOSs. Half is payable upon completion of training and the other half is spread out over the term of enlistment.

For those who have earned a college degree, the Reserve Officer Commissioning Program (ROCP) provides a direct commission into the Marine Corps Reserve as company grade officers. Upon selection from a regional Officer Selection Office (OSO), applicants attend Officer Candidate School (OCS). Upon successful completion of OCS, candidates are commissioned Second Lieutenant and subsequently attend The Basic School (TBS). Following graduation of TBS and follow on MOS training, officers report to their reserve unit where they will serve their Reserve drills and Annual Training requirements.


Reserve Marines enlist for eight-year terms. There are three options on how these terms may be served, one of which is designated upon enlistment.

  • 6×2 – Under this option the Reservist spends 6 years in active drill and fulfills the remaining two in Individual Ready Reserve (IRR). This is the only option which makes Reservists eligible for the benefits of the Montgomery GI Bill, and is also the most common.
  • 5×3 – Under this option the Reservist spends 5 years in active drill and fulfills the remaining three in Individual Ready Reserve (IRR).
  • 4×4 – Under this option the Reservist spends 4 years in active drill and fulfills the remaining four in Individual Ready Reserve (IRR).

After serving several years in the Reserves and attaining leadership rank it is possible for an enlisted Reservist to receive a commission through the Reserve Enlisted Commissioning Program (RECP). Marines who have previously served on active duty, whether officer or enlisted, can join the Select Marine Corps Reserve directly. Veteran Marines wishing to do this go through a Marine Corps Prior Service Recruiter. The mission of the Prior Service Recruiter is to join members from the Individual Ready Reserve to SMCR units close to their home.

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