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First Corporals Course Kicks Off at Camp Leatherneck

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan - Becoming a noncommissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps consists of more than an additional stripe above the cross rifles and an increased paycheck. Corporals make up approximately 20 percent of the Marine Corps and are an essential link in the chain of command as small unit leaders.



Marine Aircraft Group 40 RSS
Story by Cpl. Samuel Nasso
Date: 03.28.2010
Posted: 03.28.2010 06:57

On March 14, 38 corporals and one petty officer 3rd class eagerly awaited the start of the first Corporals Leadership Course here, when they were broken up into squads for the first event of the course.

The initial event was a test given by the instructors to measure the knowledge and proficiency of the students. This test will be given again near the end of the course to measure the student's progress following the two week course.

The mission of Corporals Course was to equip and prepare Marines to make the transition from troops following orders to small unit leaders making decisions and issuing orders to their junior Marines. During the course, corporals gained insight on key facets of their rank and responsibilities so they are better prepared to take on future leadership roles.

"Corporals Leadership Course gives noncommissioned officers, future sergeants, the tools to make them more effective leaders," said Gunnery Sgt. Quinn Owens, the staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of Corporals Course from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261, Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan. "They will use these tools as small unit leaders and it will help them deal with Marines in scenarios they've never been in before."

With the first half of the course finished, the instructors and the students were motivated to finish the course and are satisfied with the progress so far.

"I'm pleased with how this course has gone so far," said Cpl. Ethan Moyer, the class commander from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 466, MAG-40, MEB-Afghanistan. "Given the amount of resources we have, this has been a great opportunity for me and there are a lot of us that don't get this kind of training."

The students in the course hail from various squadrons within MAG-40, but that does not mean the students bring the same experiences or leadership styles to the class.

"We have Marines from ten different commands and 22 different military occupational specialties, all together for this course," said Sgt. Maj. John Krumholtz, the director of the course and sergeant major of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261, MAG-40, MEB-Afghanistan. "The diversity allows the students an opportunity to learn more from each other during the course and build off of each other's experiences."

Along with the different students going through the course together, the instructors came from different backgrounds and brought varied experiences to the table as well.

"We have a few instructors with our squadron, VMM-261, and a few instructors from HMH-466," said Owens. "They volunteered to instruct these young Marines and each offers something different."

Prior to the first day of Corporals Course, the instructors, ran through the schedule to make sure the course would run smoothly. Each day they arrive early and stay late, again ensuring that each series of events are ready to go for the next day.

"They are up before the students at 0400 and are usually still working come 2000, ensuring that everything is prepared for the following training day," said Owens. "They deserve all the credit and are making it happen for the young Marines."

For the first Corporals Course at Camp Leatherneck, a lot of coordination and logistics had to be figured out. Krumholtz got the ball rolling by contacting Headquarters Marine Corps to determine how best to establish this course and draft a training schedule.
Once the schedule was approved, the logistics of the course had to be figured out. Coordination was made between the squadrons of MAG-40 in order to acquire a classroom, designate instructors, obtain needed equipment and coordinate training areas.

"It took a lot of planning, but it is worth it," said Owens. "They only go through this once in their life and even if these Marines get out of the Marine Corps they will always remember Corporals Course in Afghanistan."

Both guest speakers for the course, Krumholtz and Sgt. Maj. Ernest Hoopi, the Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan sergeant major, couldn't agree more about the benefit of this course for young NCO's.

"You can't buy being a Marine," said Hoopi. "This is the best time of your life, so wear this uniform with pride, hold your head high, stick out your chest and walk the walk."

With a week left in the course, the students have been equipped with the tools to become better NCO's and are eager to learn more.

"Marines that I look up to as mentors have gone through Corporals Course and I have personally seen the difference this course makes," said Moyer. "It makes a Marine more complete and further develops them as an NCO."

Once this class graduates on March 29, the director and staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of this class, hope to see additional courses conducted in the future.

"This is just a start. What we all need to do is come together like we did this time and keep it going," said Owens. "I hope we can get all of our units together and at least four times a year, have a Corporals Course with dedicated billeting and a dedicated classroom."

With optimistic plans for future courses, mission accomplishment in a combat zone will remain the priority of effort for all the Marines in Afghanistan. However, this course will better equip new corporals in their role as small unit leaders, thus improving the overall success of each squadron and in turn MAG-40 and MEB-Afghanistan.

"It is not imperative that we have this course in Afghanistan," said Krumholtz. "But if Marine Corps University offers it to us and if we can have 39 better prepared NCO's running around, then why waste the opportunity."