USS GUNSTON HALL, Gulf of Aden -- Marines with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit completed a Corporal’s Course Sept. 22, 2012, aboard USS Gunston Hall in the Gulf of Aden to develop the leadership abilities of the unit’s junior noncommissioned officers.
Twenty-seven corporals took part in the course, which focused on a myriad of Marine-centric classes to enhance the corporal’s abilities to lead Marines in any situation ranging from day-to-day life to combat.
“There is a big window of stuff that was covered,” said Sgt. Parker Radcliffe, a Battle Creek, Mich., native, the course’s chief instructor and a combat engineer with Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 24th MEU. “Anybody can get (assigned to any unit) to do anything. As a sergeant, I can get attached to infantry units and I need to know how to lead in any atmosphere.”
The Marines trained on things such as patrolling, fire team formations, drill, land navigation, public speaking, developing subordinates, leadership styles and more. All the classes focused on building a foundation in leadership and the classes served to give them the tools necessary to better lead Marines.
“You need a foundation of your own before you can broaden your leadership capabilities, and this course helps them build a foundation,” Radcliffe said. “It is stressed to them throughout the whole course.”
The course began in the middle of August at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, but was interrupted when the Marines were called back to the ship. In typical “adapt and overcome” Marine Corps fashion, the instructors modified the curriculum and finished the course aboard ship.
“We had a much better training environment in Kuwait than on ship,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Snuggs, a Monroe, La., native, the staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the course. “We improvised, adapted and overcame our issues to run a course that was worth running on ship.”
Instructors evaluated the Marines on a pass or fail grading system. After each period of instruction, the Marines had to demonstrate mastery through practical application or a written exam.
“When they get evaluated, they only have a few attempts before they fail,” said Snuggs, who is deployed as the platoon sergeant for 1st Platoon, Charlie Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 24th MEU. “We use a checklist and they have to hit everything on it.”
While there is no current requirement for corporals to attend a Corporal’s Course before attaining the rank of sergeant, the command-run course will meet any future Corporal’s Course requirements the Marines may encounter in their career.
Now that the course is complete, the Marines will return to their respective sections equipped with more skills to better handle whatever situation they may face in the daily grind of Marine Corps life.
The 24th MEU is deployed with the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group as a theater reserve force for U.S. Central Command and is providing support for maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet area of responsibility.