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Marine Forces Europe and Africa

United States Marine Corps

USAG Stuttgart, Germany
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Making leaders while deployed

By Lance Cpl. Michael Dye | | June 28, 2013

For several days young Marines have had a challenging experience attending Corporals Course while deployed with Black Sea Rotational Force 13. They have spent long hours honing their drill skills, learning leadership theory, pushing through rigorous physical training, and practicing drill with guidons and swords.

They put that training to the test and completed a large portion of the three week course.

“Today we are testing the Marines on sword and guidon manual,” said Sgt. Marcus Rains, one of the faculty advisors for the course and Jacksonville, N.C., native. “This is what these Marines have spent countless hours practicing so they can lead their Marines in formation, and they make it look good.”

Lance Cpl. Andy Davis receives the command, one of his hands sharply grasps the sword belted to his waist. He then removes his sword and brings the hilt within inches to his face and coming to a smooth and swift stop as he executes a crisp sword salute.

“I have really enjoyed learning the proper movements with the sword,” said Davis. “I didn’t realize when we started this course how much actually went into these movements.”

Once a Marine reaches the rank of corporal, he takes responsibility as a non-commissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps. With this rank, they have earned the right to carry the NCO sword.

“This course brings back some of the basics that a Marine may forget from recruit training,” said Raines. “What we do is bring these basics back to better mold these Marines as leaders.”

Leading Marines holds a great responsibility. You have to be able to give orders on a moment’s notice, and then oversee the execution to make sure they are carried out correctly. Marine Corps NCOs are a special breed. Although only an E-4 by pay grade, it is a prestigious title. After becoming an NCO a Marine is expected to take charge of all the junior Marines under him. The Corporal rank is not a given rank. These Marines have competed with all of the lance corporals in their field to be one of the few selected to wear the rank of Corporal.

The importance of the NCO leadership traits is what gives the Marine Corps its strong backbone. It is also the same traits that BSRF-13 has taught to our partnered nations during our NCO development seminars.

“Being a great leader is important,” said Rains. “However, you also have to be a good follower; instant obedience to orders without question is what we instill in these Marines since recruit training. We re-emphasize this in Corporals Course.”

After completing this portion of Corporals Course, the Marines have about one week of training left. They will continue to build their leadership skills, and once the course finishes they will have a basic understanding on leading Marines.

“I look forward to one day take charge of Marines as a non-commissioned officer,” said Davis. “I feel better prepared to step in that position now because I have learned the basics this course has taught me.”