Size Matters: Marines Looking Into Bigger Rifle Squads For Deployed Forces

Bullet Points

After shrinking infantry rifle squads, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller is now considering making squads bigger for deployed Marines.


  • Neller announced in May that rifle squads will be reduced from 13 to 12 Marines, but he added two billets to each squad: an assistant squad leader and a systems operator, who can fly a small drone and be in charge of other technology.
  • But Marine Expeditionary Units may need rifle squads with 15 Marines “because they are forward-deployed,” Neller said Wednesday at a Defense Writers Group breakfast.

  • “I don’t know when we’re going to start it,” Neller told Task & Purpose. “That’s just something that came up here recently. But I think if we can generate the people, we’re probably going to do that.”
  • The extra three Marines would be 0311 riflemen and they would be added to each of the squad’s three fire teams, said Neller’s spokesman Lt. Col. Eric Dent.
  • For the immediate future, it appears that most rifle squads will get smaller. Neller said he hopes the Marine Corps can begin introducing the 12-Marine rifle squads with assistant squad leaders and systems operators starting in 2020.
  • “I want to get that implemented to see how it works,” Neller said. “If it doesn’t, we’ll adjust.”

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