While at sea, the course enabled corporals to study the spiritual, mental and physical demands that noncommissioned officers (NCO) face as small unit leaders. The Marine corporal’s role is to carry out the orders of the leaders appointed over them while maintaining cohesion within the unit. This can make the corporal a positive influential leader to their senior and junior personnel.
“We want to empower these Marines, they’re the future leaders who are going to fill our shoes and we want to make sure we set them up for success,” said 1st Sgt. Jeffrey Smith, the Corporal’s Course director and company 1st Sgt. of Headquarters and Service Company, Battalion Landing Team 1/1, 13th MEU. “They could be the most motivated leaders in the world but if they don’t have knowledge, we’re setting them up for failure. These Marines are at the basic rung of leadership, corporals, the first NCO rank. This is why I believe the Corporal’s Course is very important, just as, if not more important than the Sergeant’s Course, Career Course and Advanced Course.”
For two weeks, 21 corporals learned how to counsel junior Marines, create after action-reports, conduct sword manual, or ceremonial sword handling, and to lead Marines, from the battlefield to the garrison environment back home.
“It taught us what every NCO needs to know,” said Cpl. Jorden D. Mathieu, a fire support man with Air Naval Gun Fire Liaison Company Detachment, Command Element, 13th MEU. “It doesn’t matter what your MOS [Military Occupational Speciality] is, just like every Marine is a rifleman, Marines need to know how to lead patrols. We’re responsible for the lives and well-being of junior Marines.”
Four sergeants supervised four squads as faculty advisors, providing insight and guidance to Marines in the course. The sergeants’ experience and professionalism provided the students not only a glimpse of future responsibilities but also what the Marine Corps will expect of them as they serve.
“As a faculty advisor I mentor six other Corporals under my charge, give them guidance, pass the word, instruct them on the tricks of the trade and teach them to be better leaders in their off time,” said Sgt. Joshua Williams, a squad leader with 81mm Mortar Platoon, Weapons Company, BLT 1/1, 13th MEU.
This course marks a time in the Marines’ career where they receive a new set of tools to lead themselves and others. Just as tools only fulfill their purpose being used, these corporals will use their gained knowledge and understanding to forge a future for the Corps.
“How many jobs in the civilian world do you see 20 year-olds leading other guys their age and being responsible for their lives and success?” said Mathieu. “This course shows us how to be successful leaders who can confidently take charge of what is asked of us.”
The next class convenes in May when more corporals will study and develop their leadership capabilities aboard Green Bay. As more corporals attend the course, the highly capable, mission ready, noncommissioned officers will help strengthen 13th MEU as it operates at the tip of the spear.
13th MEU is deployed with Boxer Amphibious Ready Group for theater security cooperation, maritime security operations and serves as the USCENTCOM theater reserve force.