From Assaultman To Data Systems Administrator
by U.S. Marine Corps LCpl. Angel Alvarado
June 9, 2022
Throughout history the U.S. Marine Corps has continuously evolved strategy capabilities to develop warfighting operations. With the present-day multi-domain environments the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General David H. Berger has issued a strategic planning guide, “Force Design 2030.” “Force Design 2030” (FD2030) prioritizes the integration of the U.S. Marine Corps with their maritime counterparts, the U.S. Navy. The fighting forces will reinforce their naval traditions to strengthen the U.S. Marine Corps as a globally employable expeditionary force.
In conjunction with FD2030, units and military occupational specialties (MOS) are being deactivated due to restruction.
U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Lucas A. Dussaut, a native of Mound, Minn., data systems administrator and data systems chief with Fleet Marine Forces (FMFLANT), Marine Forces Command (MARFORCOM), Marine Forces Northern Command (MARFOR NORTHCOM) was a prior infantry assaultman Marine who noticed a progression within himself and took advantage of FD2030 to start a change.
U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Lucas A. Dussaut, a data systems administrator and data systems chief with Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic (FMFLANT), Marine Forces Command (MARFORCOM), Marine Forces Northern Command (MARFOR NORTHCOM) analyzes the server network at Naval Support Activity, Hampton Roads, Virginia on May 20, 2022. Staff Sgt. Dussaut is responsible for training, domain infrastructure, active directory management, cloud services, disaster recovery, database management, scripting and hardware/software management of FMFLANT, MARFORCOM, MARFOR NORTHCOM. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by LCpl. Angel Alvarado)
Since his first year of high school, Dussaut knew he wanted to be a part of the U.S. military. He was a rebellious teenager that dreamt of contributing to military operations and witnessing artillery breeches. These aspirations led him to the MOS 0351, infantry assaultman.
“I wanted to blow stuff up, run in the fields, and shoot guns,” Dussaut remarked, “I was dead set to join the infantry and become an assaultman. There wasn't anything that could convince me otherwise, because I wanted those experiences.”
Dussaut was confident the life of an infantry assaultman was the life for him. However, he understood the physical and mental rigors it takes to become an infantry assaultman and most importantly how some individuals fail to meet such a demanding occupation. This practical mindset inspired him to join the Marine Corps, because he knew if he couldn't get the MOS he wanted, he would still be content with earning the title U.S. Marine.
Dussaut recounts, “I had a conversation with a buddy of mine who wanted to join the Army Rangers, and I told him, ‘Hey, if we join the Army Rangers and fail we will just be soldiers, but if we join the Marine Corps, no matter what we do we will still have the title U.S. Marine’.”
In July 2014, Dussaut graduated from the rigorous 13-week recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., thus becoming a U.S. Marine. After graduation, Dussaut moved forward to the School of Infantry; hungry to learn more and become something greater than himself. Nevertheless, a wide array of new challenges were sitting there waiting for him.
“I knew the Marine Corps is about the mental strength more than the physical aspect…,” he continued, “...but the School of Infantry was where I started to falter and think ‘maybe this isn't who I wanted to be’ and ‘I don't want to be here’ but some good leaders refused to let me quit.”
The School of Infantry, Infantry Training Battalion, facilitates a 59-day course where the recently graduated enlisted Marines become proficient in combat tactics. Marines perfect their marksmanship, explosives handling, infantry patrolling, countering improvised explosive devices, and other entry-level infantry knowledge and tasks. During training Marines are taught they are no longer an individual and to disregard personal wants for the sake of mission accomplishment and teamwork. During this mental transition of constant sacrifice it is common for Marines to feel ignored and invaluable, which was a personal struggle for Dussaut.
“I was having a hard time because it is easy to feel like another body,” Dussaut explained, “I kept telling myself if I quit now then I can be home in a week. Looking back, I realize that was definitely not true, which is why I am grateful for the other Marines who constantly reminded me I’m not just another cog in the machine.”
Dussaut managed to find the mental strength to finish the course and was assigned to his first duty station; 3rd battalion, 5th Marine Regiment (3/5), 1st Marine Division (1st MarDiv) where he employed Anti-Tank 4 and M72 Light Anti-armor Weapon rocket launchers, breaching systems, and demolitions. Although he accomplished what he aspired to do, the mental rigors remained.
“The fleet in the infantry was something I surprisingly struggled with the most,” Dussaut stated, “If you made a mistake then the results would be disproportionately bad; looking back I realize that was an allegory for mistakes in war.”
Throughout the Marine Corps mistakes are emphasized because they are the difference between life and death during times of war; mistakes are highlighted throughout training to equip the Marines with mental resilience and to mitigate potential risks. However, reprimand in a garrison environment is not always appropriately executed.
Dussaut stated, “It wasn’t good for me and I think it has changed since then, but I would never treat my junior Marines that way.”
Experiences of disproportionately negative consequences for mistakes are more acceptable in the infantry according to some people’s opinion. In 2017, (3/5), 1st MarDiv became a Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory. Dussaut and his comrades were tasked to test new equipment, capabilities, and operating concepts contributing to force design.
“We piloted reconnaissance drones, new radio communications, and much more to see if they are tools we could utilize for a battalion or only special forces,” Dussaut continued, “They were also testing what it was like not having an assaultman. The Marine Corps posed the question of how the combat engineers do the same things as assaultmen so why have both when we can just have combat engineers. While I enjoyed being an assaultman, it made sense.”
As the 0351 assaultman occupation began to disband in October of 2018, enlisted Marines were faced with the crossroads of staying in the infantry or doing a lateral move into another occupation. A lateral move allows military personnel to change their occupation and further career progression. Dussaut reflected on the experiences and opportunities he was given and realized he was no longer the rebellious teen he was years ago.
“I wanted to live the life of an infantry assaultman and I did. I shot rocket launchers and played with demolitions,” Dussaut continued, “I got that fill but I was ready to have a practical job that can translate to the civilian world easily. I had past interests and skills with computers, so during the disbandment I lateral moved to communications.”
Dussaut noticed that as the Marine Corps developed, so had he. He decided to take the lessons he learned as an assaultman and apply them to his new occupation, data systems administrator. As a result, he developed a universal mental tenacity and utilizes lessons learned from the leaders before him to his Marines today.
“It definitely helped me mold my leadership style because I learned a lot of what not to do. Those experiences in the infantry weren’t necessarily good for me but having those experiences changed my perspective. It’s like Thomas Edison’s saying, ‘I didn't fail 1,000 times to make a lightbulb, I found 1,000 ways to not make a lightbulb,” Dussaut continues, “However, a lesson I still apply is one my platoon sergeant told me; time never stops. You will have good days and they will end. Likewise, you will have bad days and they will end. Some hardships may seem like they will last forever but they won’t because everything is in constant change. You can not stop time.”
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