I've been learning about the U.S. Marine Corps recently, and I've been trying to figure out how Enlists get promoted to Officers. One way I learned about is a super long training course, but I'm wondering about what happens if a Lieutenant is unable to be on the front lines and Headquarters is unable to send an Officer recruit, how do they replace him? They obviously don't have time for a 10-month training course.

  • 1
    Insufficient information. Is this as part of a regiment acting together, or was the lieutenant the only officer leading a small group?
    – Mary
    Jan 5 at 2:20
  • I meant like the Lieutenant leading a Platoon. But I'm also curious about if it was a full regiment.
    – Anonymous
    Jan 5 at 2:23
  • Enlisted aren't promoted to officers(yes, I know about mustangs; not germane to the question); they have different jobs. One isn't an evolution of the other. This question lacks any preliminary research and appears to be a hypothetical. Time and place are very relevant. If the unit has no communications with command, why do they need an officer? Recommend closure till the question is clarified.
    – MCW
    Jan 5 at 2:31
  • 2
    Is it really a history question? Jan 5 at 2:31
  • Sorry, this is just the best stack exchange I can find. Apparently there isn't a military stack exchange.
    – Anonymous
    Jan 5 at 2:32

1 Answer 1


You have to consider the rank like first lieutenant or staff sergeant and the position like platoon commander or squad leader.

  • The position gets filled by whoever stands next in the chain of command.
  • That person does not automatically get the rank of the deceased officer, but doing the job well might cause a promotion.

Here is an example of a sergeant taking over a Marine platoon after the officer was wounded.

This principle applies not just to the USMC, by the way. Consider this example from the UK. During the trench warfare of the First World War, there were companies with no commissioned officers left. The senior non-commissioned officer would take command. And it was possible that, for proven battlefield ability, NCOs would get a field commission to officer rank.

If the last survivor of a company is a private, that private commands the company (i.e. himself or herself) until replacements are assigned or that company is withdrawn (the more likely outcome, in case of such dramatic losses). There are regulations in most navies that command of a ship can only go to officers with nautical qualifications, but if there is no qualified watch officer left, whoever is senior is in charge.

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