While the Navy obviously understood the need for a Master-at-Arms (MA) rating when it was re-established in 1973 following a 52-year hiatus, finding the Sailors to fill the needs of the position was a different story. Just as with law-enforcement positions in the civilian world, it was difficult finding qualified Sailors who earnestly desired to become MAs and carry out the tasks associated with the Rating. What’s more, the fact that the Master-at-Arms rating had basically been brought out of mothballs meant that, aside from basic law-enforcement duties, its ultimate goals and missions were not clearly delineated.

The latter issue was resolved, tragically enough, with the rise of terrorism that reached their apex with the September 11 attacks. Given a new role in fighting the Global War on Terrorism, the Navy needed Sailors dedicated to the prevention of terrorist assaults on its personnel, installations, and ships as it deployed around the globe—and the law-enforcement and security duties that formed the basis of the MA rating could be leveraged to provide force protection for Naval assets both ashore and afloat.

When the MA rating was revived in 1973, it was open only to Sailors with a rate of E6 (or those selected to advance to that rate). Now, Seaman apprentices can pursue a career in one of the six jobs available to Masters-at-Arms, and to further bolster interest in the rating the Navy is actively promoting the civilian credentialing opportunities that are available to MAs to help them find jobs when their Naval careers come to an end. In the course of a four-and-a-half year period (2007 to 2012), MAs earned over 18,000 certifications. In addition, the Navy has encouraged MAs to participate in USMAP, or United States Military Apprenticeship Program, so they can complete civilian apprenticeships requirements while they are still on active duty.

These proactive efforts to find the adequate numbers of motivated and skilled Masters-at-Arms have proven quite successful. Prior to 2001, only about 1,000 Sailors were serving as MAs; today, the number is over 10,000.

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