MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP GEIGER, N.C. -- A staff sergeant with the Slovenian military traveled thousands of miles to train with the United States Marine Corps recently.
Igor Prelog participated in the Advanced Infantry Training Company Platoon Sergeant’s Course at the School of Infantry East, located at here.
Forty exchange students from countries including Malta, Hungary and Belize have graduated from the course, according to Gunnery Sgt. Mike Kehoe, operations chief at the school.
“These guys usually come here with no knowledge of the Marine Corps,” said Kehoe. “We don’t teach the basics, so they have to dig deep.”
Prelog, although physically fit from a lifetime of skiing, was chosen for his proficiency in the English language.
“I learned English in Slovenian schools,” said Prelog. “My English later improved because I met an Australian who later spent time in my house.”
Prelog heard about the course through the International Military Education and Training program that was designed to encourage beneficial relations and increased understanding between the United States and foreign countries with the goal of furthering international peace and security.
“I chose the course because it is the Marines,” said Prelog.
The course, which focuses on leadership principles, convinced Prelog that his thoughts about the military pointed in the right direction.
“In the Yugoslav army they think the soldiers are simply there to do what they are told. There is a lack of respect for the professional soldier,” said Prelog. “My time in the course validated my thoughts that you must treat the professional soldier as such.”
Prelog, who was called back to the military during a short ten-day war that resulted in Slovenia’s independence, was especially impressed by the teaching methods of the Marine Corp’s instructors.
“The instructors give us an outline and all the books we need to learn,” said Prelog. “The classroom is conducive to learning, and there is PowerPoint which is visual.”
The Slovenian-born Prelog also places the study of urban combat at the top of his list of importance.
“I would like to come back to the Military Operations in an Urban Terrain Course in [Camp Pendleton, Calif.,]” said Prelog. “Most of the big battles in Yugoslavia were not fought in the forest but in a MOUT environment like Sarajevo and Vukovar.
Prelog, who would like to stay in the military as long as possible, mapped out his future goals with the precision of a tactician.
“After this course, I will vacation for one month of diving and spear fishing,” he said.