USS RUSHMORE, At Sea --
In a crowded room sit 24 U.S. Marines. Their uniforms neatly pressed and shoes polished to a mirror shine. Their faces glow with promise and excitement as they listen intensely to the words of Sgt. Maj. Carlos M. Murcia.
“I cannot tell you how to train your Marines, because every Marine is different. As [noncommissioned officers] it’s your job to know your Marines, push their limits and find a way to make them better leaders. You are responsible for their success, do not fail them,” said Murcia, the sergeant major of Combat Logistics Battalion 15, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Those 24 Marines, from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, were graduating from Corporals Course class 3-15 aboard the USS Rushmore (LSD 47) in the Arabian Sea, June 24, 2015.
During the two-week long course Marines learned personal and professional skills necessary to be a successful noncommissioned officer in the Marine Corps.
“We do that through teaching classes on Marine Corps traditions, infantry tactics, professional communication, military orders, and public speaking,” said Staff Sgt. Matt Talbot, a faculty advisor during the course and platoon sergeant with Kilo Company, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. “The course gives them basic skills necessary to have a good solid foundation on what a small unit leader is, and their role.”
The course was taught by staff noncommissioned officers on board the USS Rushmore, with each teaching classes on their respective specialties.
“We all have skills and experiences that these Marines can benefit from,” said Talbot. “It’s sharing the wealth of knowledge to make sure the Corps has better leaders tomorrow.”
Despite having limited space to work with, the Marines of class 3-15 received the same training value they would receive if they were at a resident course. For example, the land navigation portion of the training: there is not enough room onboard to conduct a traditional land navigation course, so instructors improvised and focused on map reading and exploiting “dead space.”
“I didn’t think they were going to be able to apply any of the fundamentals of land navigation on ship,” said Cpl. Jeffery Salois, a team leader with Kilo Company, 3/1, 15th MEU. “[Instructors] were able to put together a course that focused on more advanced tactics.”
Those advanced tactic included reading terrain, contour lines, and finding dead space in between contour lines. Students learned how to use all that information to identify ideal positions for support-by-fire positions.
“We all know how to read maps, but I never knew you could pull all of this information from it,” Salois said.
While the faculty advisors provided a wealth of knowledge, Marines in the class also benefited from their classmates’ experiences.
“This is where the majority of their confidence comes from,” Talbot said. “They get to measure themselves up against other corporals, regardless of MOS, and really get to see where they stand among their peers.”
After two weeks, the Marines gained the basic skills from instructors and their peers on what it means to be an NCO and their role in a unit’s success.
“Everyone graduating today is a better Marine for having completed this course,” Talbot said. “In just two weeks you can see their confidence level boost and they have a renewed energy that they’ll take back to their squads and apply what they learned here to their junior Marines, which ultimately leads to better ‘Corps of Marines.’”