Camp Pendleton, CA --
The course is a two-week evolution that builds on the skills that non-commissioned officers are expected to use in combat and teach in garrison.
"We typically take people that have graduated the basic combat skills course and aim to advance the training they received in that, with an added focus on tactical leadership principles, machine gun training, and the ability to give and receive combat orders," explained Sgt. William Fabrocini, chief instructor of Combat Leader's Course.
"We did a little bit of everything," said Sgt. Bryan Locklear, a student in the course and a combat engineer with Headquarters and Support Company, CLB-1. "There was a lot of information put into a small amount of time about what might be expected of any NCO in a combat situation."
As a sergeant, Locklear knows that learning how to lead a group of Marines and impart knowledge unto others is expected of every Marine by the time they become an NCO.
"I learned how to teach other NCOs to apply themselves during training," Locklear explained. "Being able to teach and be confident is important, because whether or not you need this information, what you taught one individual might save someone else's life."
The CSTS serves the regiments, battalions, and companies across the MLG with combat training courses. The school dedicates months to offer their CST package; consisting of the Basic Combat Skills Course, Basic Machine Gun Course, Tactical Convoy Course and the Combat Leader's Course.
In every one of their courses, Fabrocini says he stresses two important things to his students: physical fitness and mental maturity.
"You have to have the ability to be put into an environment that is not friendly, that is not home, and is not familiar or safe; you need to have the mental maturity to be strong in those environments," said Fabrocini. "At the end of the day the only thing I can give these Marines is the ability to defend themselves in the face of danger."
Giving up 30-40 NCOs for weeks can be hard on any unit, but Locklear explained how CLB-1 will profit from allowing their NCOs to participate in this course and what their new skills can bring to the table.
"All these NCOs now have the knowledge they need to teach junior Marines what they need to know in a combat environment," said Locklear. "When it's life or death you'll have your junior Marines looking up to you; you have to step up to that."
Locklear concluded that what matters the most to him from this experience, is the ability to confidently set the example for others in times of great stress.