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Marine Corporals learn leadership in combat zone

18 Feb 2006 | Sgt. Enrique S. Diaz

Junior noncommissioned officers learned skills to help them lead their Marines thanks to a course that is usually reserved for garrison training stateside.

Twenty Marines with Second Marine Logistics Group, Combat Logistics Regiment 25 graduated from Corporals Course Class 1- 06 February 18, 2006 here after completing a two-week course designed to enhance their leadership skills.

Unlike most corporals courses which are held in a garrison environment where supplies and course materials are readily available, this one was held as the Marines were deployed to a combat zone and mirrored some of the challenges inherent to being far from the homefront.

The same class as the two-week corporals course taught stateside was used, except the uniform inspections could not be conducted since the Marines only brought their uniform items necessary for combat, said Gunnery Sgt. Rolanda D. Bailey, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge of the corporals course and 37-year-old Mobile, Okla. native.

Although other challenges also stood in the way of the course, everything worked out in the end as the class graduated with high marks.

“I didn’t have any of the course outlines so reproduction took a long time out here. We also gave each student the (presentations) and outlines on a CD. The curriculum was fast paced and the exams were less than 3 days apart; keep in mind the Marines were getting graded on drill also. The academic class average was 91.1% and (the) physical fitness test average was 248 (out of a possible 300),” said Bailey.

“It shows the flexibility of the Marine Corps as we continue to sustain the fight and educate our NCOs at the same time,” said First Sgt. Jerry E. Neal, II MLG, Headquarters and Service Battalion sergeant major and 39-year-old native of Greensborough, N.C.

Throughout the course, the corporals learned a variety of subjects they could use to be better leaders such as legal processes, administrative procedures, leadership studies and uniform regulations.

“I am more aware of what responsibilities I have and have been given the tools to apply them,” said Cpl. Joshua Paul Hilsgen, who graduated top of his class with a 93.8% and is a 22–year-old Watkins, Minn. native.

Although the deployment offered little opportunity to spare senior leadership to run the course, CLR 25 was able to overcome the staffing issues to ensure their junior NCOs received the training that would make them better leaders. 

“Our primary focus out here has been combat operations; however, as leaders we never give up an opportunity to mentor and train our young leaders,” said Sgt. Maj. Gabriel Pintos, CLR 25 sergeant major and 46-year-old New York City native. “We saw an opportunity to do just that toward the end of our deployment and we jumped all over it.”

Although the course challenged the students while they were already in a stressful environment, many of them appreciated the opportunity to complete some of their professional military education in a historic setting.

“I think it’s great that I was able to complete the course out here while in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. It really says a lot about Marines -- when more and more things are thrown at them, they still come out on top,” said Hilsgen, lot foreman for Combat Logistics Battalion 1, Combat Logistics Company 119’s Heavy Equipment Platoon.

For other corporals, the course offered the opportunity to gauge themselves amongst their peers.

We have NCO’s from 13 different MOSs (military occupational specialties) so it was good to see how we stacked up to our peers in other job fields,” said Cpl. Doan La, a supply clerk and 20-year-old Van Nuys, Calif. native.

Ultimately, many Marine leaders consider military education just as vital as the missions they support and consider them an obligation to the generation of Marines who would eventually take their place.

“When our young leaders are hungry for knowledge, irrespective of the clime and place and if time permits, then we should give them the nourishment they need and deserve to become better leaders,” finished Pintos.

With the graduation of the newly-trained corporals from their first military leadership course, CLR 25 has fulfilled that obligation to their young warriors and ensured the Marine Corps’ legacy of leaders will continue.
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