CAMP PENDLETON Calif. - Earning the coveted “blood stripe” is one of the Marine Corps’ most meaningful traditions. The history behind the blood stripe is one of sacrifice, perseverance, and dedication. Similarly, being promoted to the status of a Staff Non-Commissioned Officer is another tremendous milestone in an enlisted Marine’s career.
Gen. James F. Amos, former commandant of the Marine Corps, released a white letter (a message to commanders conveying his thoughts on a variety of topics) in November 2012, outlining the importance of broadening the mind as a critical aspect of developing the warrior. The “5,000 year old mind” is what the former Commandant of the Marine Corps called it: learning from the lessons of history and of those who have come before us.
Stemming from this creed, the staff of 1st Supply Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group (MLG), I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF) organized a Staff Sergeant Seminar for both selected sergeants and newly promoted staff sergeants. Sgt. Maj. Michael S. Ryan, the 1st Supply Bn Sergeant Major, was the driving force behind the overhaul of this mentorship program.
“The most important thing we tried to teach is that you are a staff nco first,” said Ryan, “and it is our responsibility to maintain the legacy of our warfighting institution.”
Ryan, along with his hand-selected staff of Gunnery Sergeants from across 1st MLG, took aim to engage with the future of the Marine Corps by mentoring and developing its upcoming senior enlisted leaders. Students were split into groups of seven or eight Marines, each highly diverse in their array of military occupational specialties (MOS), with one Gunnery Sergeant as the mentor to lead group discussions and provide feedback. Typically, “death by PowerPoint” is common in professional military education (PME) seminars, but for the staff sergeant seminar, that was not the case.
“While that educational paradigm (PowerPoint) is effective, we wanted to focus more on the sharing of information and ideas...what it means to be a staff sergeant,” said Ryan.
Each of the three days of the seminar had a specific theme with accompanying classes and discussions. The first day was about readiness: developing the individual leader. The second topic was pride: becoming confident in knowing the six functional areas of the MLG’s logistical mission, and the third was institution: preserving the Marine Corps legacy.
This holistic approach to developing the new staff nco’s of the Marine Corps was combined with leadership panels, guest speakers, and a question-and-answer panel with officers. The seminar concluded with guidance from Brig. Gen. David A. Ottignon, the 1st MLG Commanding General, and Sgt. Maj. Troy E. Black, the 1st MLG Sergeant Major.
Even with a variety of educational methods, mixed with the networking aspect of meeting other staff nco’s, Ryan maintained that the guidance students received from his staff would prove to be the most valuable tool for their careers.
“Mentorship is the engine that will move us into the future.”