2 sides of the Marine Corps. Which one are you?
As you may or may not know, there are two jobs that actually require the manpower of the Marine Corps. These jobs are considered "grunt" roles and everyone else. Grunts include infantrymen (including rifle, machine gunners, mortar men), scouts/snipers, amphibious assault vehicle crew members (AAV = Amtrac/track), and so on. Everyone else includes cooks, seamen (Navy-type people), air support (anti-air [shooting it out with enemy planes], medevacs [medical evacuation by helicopter or plane]), mechanics, pilots, doctors, etc. So what's the difference between grunts and everyone else? Well, the grunts are the ones who actually "grunt" (carry their own weight), so to speak. They are the people who go right down in front, taking most of the heat and danger, while everyone else does everything possible to keep them alive throughout their duty assignment. These duty assignments can vary any where from 30 days up to 6 months or more, depending on exactly what grunt role you have in the Marine Corps.
On the other hand, everything everyone else does is to support their fellow grunts. That includes all kinds of jobs that are not directly related to front-line fighting roles. They provide food, ammo, fuel for vehicles or tanks, water, "beer", and so on, from their positions back from the front line. The Marine Corps is a business really, and it has to get supplies where they need to go in order for them to get to the people who need them most. Without everyone else, there wouldn't be anyone left alive behind all that front-line action anyway. Think about it: if everyone else weren't supporting the grunts, then there would be no one to fight the "action" (for lack of a better word).
There is usually no specific set time for either side; rather they switch back and forth depending on how long grunt vs. everyone else assignments are. You can be assigned to be in charge of the cooking/feeding of 70+ men (if you're in a big grunt company) and be expected to feed them three times a day, every day. Or at the same time as that you can also be assigned as one of several "grunts" who are on patrol duty outside the wire every day. The number of people either side varies depending on what type of grunt company it is. Some grunts companies have been know to have more than 200 men in them, whereas other smaller grunt companies usually have about 150 or so. Then there's that number again: the one everyone else supports. Sometimes a grunt company will be assigned a few people from everyone else just for extra support, but then the rest of the grunt company will be assigned their own everyone else.
There are many pros and cons to both sides of the Marine Corps, but there are far more for grunts than everyone else. Grunts get to carry almost everything they'll need with them at all times. They also get top priority on ammo for machine guns or mortars. This means they make a lot more noise and draw a lot more enemy fire to them, which of course is the goal anyway. If nothing else, it means grunts can make a loud commotion to scare off the bad guys from behind their front line of operation. There's also an advantage of having plenty of ammo for everything if you're a grunt. This gives the grunts the ability to fire off enough rounds of ammo at once that they can always be heard or seen by everyone else, even if they are quite a distance away. Having an advantage like this is what makes grunts preferred over everyone else in many cases when it comes time for incoming fire. Grunts also get to carry more grenades on them than anyone else (commanders usually give 10-20 grenades to each grunt depending on how many men are left in their platoon or company). This is useful because everyone else gets their own set of grenades, but if they run out then the grunts will still have plenty for both sides.
On the other hand, everyone else doesn't have to carry around all that weight and they don't get to carry ammo. They also usually only carry a few grenades with them in most cases. Everyone else does get their own set of grenades though, so by default everyone else has at least one grenade on them when the grunts do not (grunts rarely or never have just one grenade with them). One of the most important tasks for everyone else is to keep those grunts alive. When a grunt has been injured, wounded, banged up too hard from enemy fire, or needs some time off... it's usually an everyone else who gets him out of harms way and takes care of him behind the front line of operation until he can get back in the fight. Everyone else also gets to run missions behind enemy lines to gather information or do what needs to be done in order to maintain a safe and secure environment for their side. This is most often when everyone else is carrying out sorties through areas that have been occupied by the enemy with no one there to provide a safe passage for them. Commanders also usually give everyone else a lot more additional missions to carry out compared to the number of missions given to grunts, which might explain why they have a bit more freedom and less responsibility.
Without anyone from their side behind enemy lines completing all those extra tasks, things could get way too chaotic for the grunts. Think of all the grunt responsibilities! They have to carry an insane weight on their backs, they have to patrol every day in front of everyone else's line, they get "shot up" a lot more often than anyone else does... there are not many cons compared to the pros for them out there in battle conditions, but for everyone else the cons definitely outweigh the pros. Everyone else gets left out in the cold to deal with all of those tasks, whereas grunts are usually saved for more dangerous missions (although they'd never give up running any mission if there is a high chance of survival).
Everyone also has it much easier back at home base where they eat, sleep, get paid, and get back to homesickness. Grunts on the other hand live where they fight and eat whatever they can get their hands on (which isn't much). They often don't even have a place to call home base because there's no camp set up around the area of operation that is safe enough for one, so they sometimes end up on the move. It's also much easier for everyone else to get away with things like stealing, breaking the rules of engagement (ROE), and other bad behaviors; whereas grunts can't do any of those things because it'll land them in front of a jury-like team called "mishap." They are the only ones who really get to experience what it's like to be on the front lines fighting, whereas everyone else stays behind at base camp or wherever they are. Grunts don't get any of this easy treatment of course because if they do... then what is there left for everyone else? Just more responsibilities? So instead grunts carry almost all of the weight for everyone else's sake so that their side will have a better chance at winning, because grunts are the actual soldiers out there fighting. Everyone else is just supposed to provide support for all their squad members, and help them whenever they need it, which includes running those extra missions rather than being left behind with nothing to do because grunts are the only ones who get to go out into enemy territory.
It's kind of like how it is in school where everyone else sits at their desks and listens to notes, takes notes, studies hard for exams, etc. all while the grunts are out there taking those tests. They alone have to worry about passing because they're the only ones who can be held liable for their grades. Everyone else just studies, is super stressed about exams, and asks for help from grunts when they need it most. Grunts don't even have to do anything in order to come out on top of the grading scale at the end of term. They just have to sit there and watch everyone else do all of that extra work. They can just slack off and still get good grades if they want to, which is hilarious.
There is always pros and cons to both sides but you have to remember why you are going into the Marine corps and for what purpose. Most of the time most Marines don't even know what they are doing until they get to their occupation specialty school (Such a true statement). Hopefully this blog post helps you to identify what some differences might be and helps you to choose which side you're going into or are in.
Additional notes from the Author:
I replaced POGs (people other than grunts) with "everyone else" because even in the POG side there is different types of POGS which is another discussion for a blog post coming soon