CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- It has been said by many that the backbone of the Marine Corps lies in the hands of its noncommissioned officers. At a recent NCO symposium held at the Paradise Point golf course here, Marines with 2d Assault Amphibian Battalion learned first hand the knowledge and traits that an NCO should have to carry such a load.
More than 100 Marines ranging in rank from lance corporal to sergeant attended the three-day symposium listening to guest speakers, participating in open discussion workshops and receiving classes pertaining to leadership traits, Marine Corps structure, and career planning. All of these classes intended to give direction and guidance to new and soon to be NCO's.
"These are the Marines who will be leading our battalion; the leaders of the future," said AA Bn's senior enlisted member Sgt. Maj. Bruce J. Poland.
Poland said several Marines from the area volunteered their time to speak or instruct classes. Sergeants major from other regiments and battalions gave periods of instruction on combat leadership, how to organize physical training programs, fraternization and sexual harassment, and what they expected from the NCO's under their command.
Other guests such as Col. Terry G. Stevens, base comptroller here who served during the Vietnam War, informed the Marines of what is expected from a NCO during times combat.
"I told them what comes out of combat is chaos, but within that chaos there are patterns. And as a noncommissioned officer they should be able to identify these patterns," said Stevens of Ogden, Utah.
"There aren't too many of us active duty Marines left who served in Vietnam and I think there is a great thirst out there for these guys to talk to someone like me. Their response was extremely positive," he added.
According to Poland, many of the Marines who participated are coming up on their end of active duty dates and the symposium was also focused toward retention. First sergeants from within the battalion gave classes covering the many B-billets that are available and Poland, who participated in a staff noncommissioned officer selection board in 1998, discussed what sergeants should focus on for their move to the staff ranks.
When asked of his thoughts Sgt. Steven Azok, of North Pole, Alaska, said that he had learned a lot of great things about leading and influencing young Marines.
"I think the symposium added to the NCO's abilities and gave the lance corporals the basics of what being an NCO is all about," he said.
"The Marines loved it," said Poland. "It was great to get our NCO's away from Court House Bay and talk to them."