Let Marine Corps Commandant Alfred M. Gray Jr. tell you about the Marine infantryman of the future.
"Commando -- by anybody's definition," the four-star general says.
Gray, after six months as chief of the Marine Corps, has ordered grueling, body-grinding, mind-stretching training for new recruits.
The Marine Corps calls it "Basic Warrior Training" -- hand-to-hand combat, hasty map reading and other survival skills.
And for the few good men who opt for the infantry -- about one-sixth of enlisted Marines -- that is only the beginning.
They go for 23 more weeks of hard training and will emerge as "commandos," in the words of their leader.
Gray, speaking to a breakfast meeting of defense reporters yesterday, said he has ordered the tougher new training because "there aren't any front lines anywhere . . . . The rear areas have to be able to conduct operations in their own right."
While Gray is expanding the required basic training for all recruits -- known as "boots" -- and the advanced training for infantry troops, Congress is ordering deep cuts in the Pentagon budget. Those reductions may have some effect on the services' training programs.
Gray said he does not know how much the new training will cost or where the Marine Corps will get the money to finance the programs.
"Training is expensive," he conceded. "But it's worth whatever expense is necessary."
Gray said the Marines plan to cut 3,091 troops to meet 1989 fiscal year budget demands, leaving the corps with about 197,000 troops, a savings of $55 million to $60 million.
He said the Marines also plan to scale back dramatically their planned purchases of M1 tanks and will cut their planned buy of AV8B Harrier vertical-takeoff jets from 32 to 24 planes because of congressional mandates.
The commandant, responding to a critical internal Pentagon report on the status of women in the military, also has ordered a Marine Corps review of women's job opportunities and allegations of sexual harassment from men and other women.
Gray said he may restructure the types of jobs in which women may serve. He said he does not intend to expand the number of occupations women can enter and said he may redistribute women serving within certain fields. For example, Gray said, he may remove women from radio units where they are not allowed to deploy with male counterparts on frequent missions.
The Air Force and Navy recently opened more occupations to women, redefining some jobs previously considered "combat" positions, from which women are barred by law.
The Marine Corps also is examining the possibility of allowing women to serve as security guards at foreign embassies.
Gray said women were allowed in the security battalion until 1979 when they were taken out of the program because of cultural differences in some regions and other problems.
"I have an open mind to this," Gray said of women, but added, "Instinctively, I have grave reservations."
He said he expects a decision to be made, in conjunction with the State Department, sometime this year.