SNCO Academy improves Marine Corps' enlisted leaders

7 Dec 2001 | Sgt. Sharon M. Allen

Recently, a new group of Marine Corps leaders graduated from the Staff Noncommissioned Officers Academy (SNCOA).

After more than six weeks of training, Sergeants' Course graduates are heading back to their parents commands, armed with new techniques to lead their Marines and sailors.

Although some military occupational specialties (MOS) focus heavily on the importance of leadership and allow sergeants to experience it first hand, other MOSs focus more on the technical skills of the job.  Some sergeants who come to the course have never had the opportunity to hold a leadership billet.  They don't have to worry though, because the sergeants' course will give them the tools they need to strengthen their leadership skills.

"Sergeants course graduates leave with a heightened sense of awareness in all aspects of being a Marine Corps leader," said Staff Sgt. Jermal L. Rogers, sergeants course instructor.  "They realize that no matter what MOS they have, all sergeants will be faced with the same leadership problems.  We rotate leadership opportunities throughout the course, reemphasizing small unit leadership tactics."

"I'm glad I came to the course.  It was a good experience and growth process," said Sgt. Josh G. Polich, an infantryman with Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) Headquarters Group, II MEF from Wausau, Wisc.  "I got a chance to gauge where I was in relation to other sergeants in the Marine Corps.  I saw where I was stronger, and I identified my deficiencies.  Throughout the course, I helped others in areas where I was stronger, like field training, and other sergeants helped me with my weaker spots.  We learned from one another."

According to the Lejeune SNCOA Web site, Sergeants Course gives Marine Corps sergeants the necessary knowledge and skills to assume leadership roles of greater responsibility.  The instructors emphasize leadership development and warfighting skills so sergeants would be able to confidently lead Marines in combat.  The course is designed to build on knowledge previously gained from the distance education program. The aim is to give Marines the tools to successfully act in the role of a small unit leader, by confidently leading physical training sessions, drilling platoon-sized units, giving periods of instruction and preparing Marines for inspections.

"I asked to come to the course, but I had a lot of encouragement from my first sergeant," said Sgt. Jay B. Wynn, a loadmaster with PSD-14, MAG-14 in Cherry Point, N.C. from Christiansburg, Va.  "I think now, I have a better chance of getting promoted.  I learned about leadership traits and my strengths and weaknesses.  I am looking forward to (Physical Training) with my Marines, because I learned a lot of new ways to train them in addition to the Marine Corps daily seven and running."

Some of the other subjects sergeants learn includes a more in-depth look at counseling, Marine Corps history, customs, and traditions, personnel administration and improving their verbal and written communication skills. Sergeants leave the course better prepared to maintain their personal readiness and the readiness of their Marines.

According to the Web site, during their warfighting studies, students learn about operations, maintenance and employment of weapon systems, which are used by an infantry battalion. They cover tactics and concepts of maneuver warfare, and how it is applied both offensively and defensively at squad and platoon-level operations.

This includes day and night land navigation, call for fire, medivac of casualties, and use of communications equipment. With their new-found skills, sergeants are able to confidently conduct security patrols, establish a defensive position, and provide rear security.

The next Sergeants course will begin in January 2002.  For more information, contact the academy's Administration Chief, Gunnery Sgt. Phillip Lewis at 449-0507.