MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- The commandant of the Marine Corps has stressed the importance of improving the leadership and skills of noncommissioned officers so they can take charge in a variety of stressful situations. Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Base, is doing its part to train NCOs to become the leaders of tomorrow by sending their Marines through the Corporal’s Course June 13-23.
The two-week course helped to hone leadership abilities that have been learned by the students, turning them into NCO’s who can not only lead Marines in their section but lead all Marines whether in a safe stateside environment or on the battlefield, according to Sgt. Stephanie Whitehurst, an instructor at the course.
“The course was a powerful reiteration of the basic leadership traits and gave me a better understanding of the principles of leadership,” said Cpl. Casey Burns, a student undergoing the course.
Corporals participating in the course are kept at a high standard and must maintain an 80 percent grade average throughout the course, according to Whitehurst. They are not only graded on their performance on their three exams, covering the materiel they learn in the classroom, but they are also graded on their participation in classroom activities and their conduct.
The first week of the course involved physical training, drilling and sword manual, instruction on military justice and land navigation, according to Whitehurst. The instructors also taught the corporals innovative ways to exercise besides mundane exercises such as running, along with tips on time management and maintaining accountability.
“The course makes them work as a team, so it gives them tools to help make other Marines work as a team,” Whitehurst said.
During the course, the students learned how to correctly execute drill movements, call commands and march a unit of Marines, giving the Corporals the training and confidence to lead Marines in a formation, according to Whitehurst. Corporals are evaluated on their drilling throughout the course by using drill cards, which are used at Drill Instructor School.
“The drill was the hardest part for me,” said Burns. “Before this, I hadn’t drilled since boot camp or drilled a platoon.”
Throughout the course, the corporals also participated in a camouflage utility uniform inspection, a service C uniform inspection and a wall locker inspection, according to Whitehurst. The uniform inspections ensure that the corporals know how to properly perform an inspection and know the proper way a uniform should be worn, while the wall locker inspection teaches the Marines how to have accountability for required items and be able to spot missing items.
The second part of the course focuses on different types of counseling systems, weapons, force protection, urban war fighting and war games which taught the corporals how to lead a small unit in wartime environments, while in a multiplicity of situations, according to Whitehurst.
This portion of the course also allowed the corporals to learn from each other, while learning about urban warfare. The course was made up not only of base Marines but also infantry Marines from 2nd Marine Division who have deployed to Iraq, and they helped teach their fellow Marines how to move and operate in an urban environment, according to Staff Sgt. Mercedes Cancel, the staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge.
The instructors in the course strive to have as many hands-on tasks as possible because it makes the training more realistic and easier to understand, according to Cancel.
The course gives these corporals the knowledge they need to be successful leaders in the Marine Corps and continue with the Marine Corps traditions that have been passed down for hundreds of years, according to Cancel.