QUANTICO, VA - The Marine Corps released an administrative message Friday admitting that despite what many of its staff non-commissioned officers (SNCO's) have claimed over the years, "5.0 Marines" do indeed exist.
5.0/5.0 is a perfect score on the Marine Corps proficiency and conduct marks -- ratings that help junior Marines get promoted. Once a Marine reaches the rank of Sergeant (E-5), they transition from Pros & Cons to the Fitness Report, featuring a 'Christmas-tree' like structure of seniority, but officials confirmed no Marine has ever reached the top rating.
"We aren't saying there are any 5.0 Marines in the Corps right now," said Master Sergeant Raymond Gibbs with Headquarters Marine Corps. "We're just saying if a Marine has competed in multiple boards, consistently performed above and beyond his rank, and has several valor awards, he may be a 5.0/5.0 Marine."
However, in the same message the Corps reaffirmed, "Every Marine still has room for improvement."
Major John Wallis, with the Marine Corps Fire-Team for Strategic Planning, claimed the initial goal of the Marine Corps' proficiency and conduct evaluation program was mostly to give SNCO's something to do during peacetime.
"No one really cared how the rating scale actually measured up," said Wallis. "We knew most of these Marines would get out anyway."
"The process really just became a great way to help senior SNCO's develop their reading and writing skills."
What Wallis and his fire-team didn't expect, however, was the arbitrary exclusion of the 5.0/5.0 rating.
For Sergeant Michael Stevenson, an 8-year sergeant and Squad Leader with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, the elusive 5.0/5.0 marks left him less competitive and slower to promote.
"My gunnery sergeant just kept telling me, 'There's no such thing as a perfect Marine,'" Stevenson explained. "I just figured he hadn't seen any, because they were all in our admin shop."
Additional research by Duffel Blog revealed the Marine Corps attempted a similar program for lieutenants. It was dropped after three months however, when the Corps found every officer had been given a 5.0/5.0 score.