Corporals Course Graduates Sailor alongside Marines

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Cory Asato, Navy Public Affairs Support Element Det. Northwest

SILVERDALE, Wash. (NNS) -- Marine Corps Security Force Battalion (MCSFBn) graduated its newest batch of junior noncommissioned officers (NCO) at the command Corporals Course, March 17.

The mission of the course is to provide the Marine corporal with the education and leadership skills necessary to lead Marines. The local battalion chooses to send Sailors integrated into their platoons through the course, as well, promoting unit cohesion and leadership abilities.

"The mission of Corporals Course is to groom the next generation of leaders by providing corporals with the education and leadership skills necessary to lead Marines," said Marine Staff Sgt. Nate Gilbert, a Tulsa, Oklahoma, native stationed with MCSFBn. "This course covers subjects such as close order drill, land navigation, and combat patrols, with an overarching emphasis on leadership development."

MCSFBn is a service-integrated battalion with Sailors assigned to Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific working side-by-side with Marines. Petty officers are offered the course, allowing Sailors within the battalion to receive the same leadership development and skills training expected of Marine corporals, according to Gilbert.

"The biggest takeaway from the course is an expansion of leadership skills and how the Marines hold themselves to a higher standard, which is what also sets them apart from the rest of the armed forces," said Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Tyrell Durge, an Antrim, New Hampshire, native assigned to a MCSFBn platoon. "Comparing this course to petty officer indoctrination, the Corporals Course is more hands-on with quizzes and practical applications. You walk out of it instilled with more integrity, knowing you're always a leader 24/7. I'm now definitely holding myself more accountable and checking myself more as an individual and service member both on and off work."

The Corporals Course builds the "skills necessary to become successful small-unit leaders using realistic problem-based situations that a Marine corporal will encounter," according to the Marine Corps University. The course is offered first through distance learning and then through local commands throughout the Corps.

"Most Corporals Course programs are conducted at a regiment or installation level," said Gilbert. "However, since we are an isolated battalion, all instruction provided was in-house from instructors to faculty advisors. The Marines of this battalion are who ensure the success of this course and our corporals."

The course is offered online as seven sub-courses: operations, offensive operations, combat orders, defensive operations, land navigation, Marine noncommissioned officer, and leadership tools and techniques. The local course also offers customs and courtesies instruction, including marching and drill.

"As the chief instructor for Corporals Course, I knew it was important to ensure that the level of instruction would meet and hopefully exceed expectations," said Gilbert. "These corporals deserve to have a worthwhile leadership development experience. Serving as both chief instructor and faculty advisor for first squad, I was with the Marines for 10 hours a day, six days a week over the 14-day course. Additionally, Staff Sergeant Michael Doering served as faculty advisor for second squad and was an integral part of the course's success."

Corporals and Sailors most often walk away with newfound knowledge and instilled with core values, which helps make the increased level of responsibility and leadership more sustainable and effective throughout every unit.

"I feel that this is an opportunity to learn about the Marines that we work alongside at this command, as well as their mentality and mindset," said Durge. "It's been a smooth transition for me into my current platoon; the guard knowledge is the same, but there's also an infantry aspect to standing post with them that's uncommon in the Navy. Doing the same job from a different angle definitely helps broaden your perspective and knowledge on the waterfront."

The course tends to leave an impression on every service member involved, both student and instructor.

"It was humbling to see the young Marines reconnect with why they joined the Marine Corps in the first place," said Gilbert. It was rewarding to watch their level of growth over such a short period. Many spoke of their new perspective on leadership and their desire to impart what they learned to the Marines in their charge. I truly believe in the impact of Corporals Course. We are looking forward to conducting another session over the summer."

MCSFBn Command Sgt. Maj. David McKinley served as guest speaker at the graduation and left the junior NCOs with parting words of wisdom.

"We bring lessons learned from different areas of operation and units," said McKinley. "The time to listen is now. Corporal is one of the most difficult transitions to make. At that troop level, you've gone through boot camp and done deployments together, but now you carry that extra [inverted chevron] and blood stripe down your leg. That NCO sword means something; now you're in charge of somebody. Now you're there not only to push the troops, but to hold them back."

"Understand that what you do sets the tone within a unit, sometimes more than a battalion commander," continued McKinley. "You're the first true leader in the chain of command, the chain of authority. Don't ever lose sight of where you came from and where you want to go."