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Crisis Averted: No Rifle Optic Shortage for Recruits at Boot Camp, Marines Say

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Marine Corps officials say the service has averted a potential shortage of rifle combat optic sights that was on track to affect new recruits at Parris Island, South Carolina, and other entry-level training centers.

The shortage of RCOs — caused by “service life expiration and breakage”–was predicted in an April 12 Marine Administrative Message that described the findings of fiscal 2019 Combat Marksmanship Symposium which was held in October.

The message stated that the shortfall would have a “critical impact” on both Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island and The Basic School at Quantico, Virginia within six months; and Weapons and Field Training Battalion, Edson Range at Camp Pendleton, Califonia within 12 months.

Marine officials on Wednesday said that service corrected the problem before the message was released.

“The issues with RCOs referenced in the message were addressed well before any impact to Entry Level Training (ELT) occurred,” according to a statement from Capt. Karoline Foote, a spokeswoman for the Marine Corps. “A series of actions to include a redistribution of assets, clarification of maintenance procedures and prioritization of maintenance actions ensured ELT requirements were met.”

The RCO is the standard 4X magnification sight Marines use for M16A4 rifles and M4 carbines.

RCOs that were redistributed from around the Corps to help avert the shortage were taken from spares and units who do not train with them on a regular basis, Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Ken Kunze said.

“Additionally, the RCOs fielded now are over a decade old and procurement of the new Squad Common Optic (SCO) begins next year,” Kunze said.

The SCO is designed to allow Marine infantrymen to hit targets at close range and as far out as 600 meters.

Marines want the SCO to have an illuminated central aiming point visible in daylight conditions and no point-of-aim shift when adjustments are made in magnification.

— Matthew Cox can be reached at

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