ABOARD USS WASP -- The Marine Corps University is making it convenient for Marine officers on deployment to complete a portion of their Professional Military Education requirements.
For the last seven East Coast MEU deployments, the Command and Staff College (CSC), located at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., has sent an instructor out to teach a shipboard resident PME course as the Marines make their transit from the Mediterranean Sea back to the United States.
While the 24th MEU(SOC) and the WASP Amphibious Ready Group completed their changeover with the 26th MEU(SOC) and SAIPAN ARG in Rota, Spain, Air Force LtCol. John Atkins, Faculty Advisor for CSC, came aboard and was preparing course instructions on Marine Air/Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Operations and Marine Corps Planning Processes.
The two courses Atkins instructs fill 18 hours of required classroom time for Marine majors and senior captains and the TRANSLANT (transit across the Atlantic Ocean) provides the perfect atmosphere for that.
"I think the TRANSLANT home is a better time to do this, because the deployment is over and everyone can focus more on the lessons rather than the deployment that lies ahead," said Atkins.
Maj. Keith Chirico, Assistant Operations Officer, HMM-263, stressed the importance of the course for his peers.
"I think this PME is good, but what's most important is the interaction," said Chirico. "Because it fosters intellectual, controversial discussion, which brings up new ideas about how to accomplish missions successfully."
"Another great thing about this being offered to deployed officers," Atkins explains. "Is the fact that the students that take this course are just as eligible for advanced courses, like School of Advanced Warfighting, as their peers that take resident courses."
As an Air Force officer, LtCol. Atkins may seem like an unlikely candidate to teach about the MAGTF, but with three years as a CSC instructor in the subject and several graduated classes behind him, he is one of the college's leading sources on the subject. Still, administering the course aboard a Naval vessel is a unique experience and one he can appreciate.
"As an instructor, I think it's better to live the experience," said Atkins. "Now that I have a flavor of what life is like on ship, I can talk about a MAGTF with a new perspective."
"It's impressive that the Marine Corps offers continuing education to its officers in the field," he said. "All services should do the same thing."
Follow the 24th MEU (SOC) deployment on their website at www.usmc.mil/24meu.