December 11, 2005:
The U.S. Marine Corps has told it's artillerymen that they will now have to train for a secondary job in civil-military operations (CMO). This involves working directly with civilians in peacekeeping operations. Other marines would deal with the security issues, and go after any local bad guys. There has a been a tremendous need for CMO troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. The U.S. Army has several thousand of these, but most of them are reservists. The marines have 300 reservists trained for CMO work, but none on active duty.
It makes sense to cross train artillery troops for CMO work. In peacekeeping operations, the artillery don't have a lot to do. These days, the troops prefer smart bombs, or use their own mortars, for fire support. In other words, there will be some peacekeeping situations where you can have the artillery troops leave their big guns behind, and take care of more critical chores dealing with the problems of local civilians.
The U.S. Army has retrained some of its artillery troops in Iraq to deal with infantry and security jobs. However, many army infantry units find themselves dealing with CMO type work anyway. The trend is for all combat troops to get more CMO training. The marines are taking that one step further with this dual-training for its artillerymen in some marine artillery battalions.