MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Individual augments, issuing of the Combat Action Ribbon and women in combat are all issues II Marine Expeditionary Force enlisted leaders tackled at the first II MEF Sergeants Major, Master Gunnery Sergeants Symposium June 1 to 3.
Sergeants major and master gunnery sergeants from all over II MEF gathered at Marston Pavilion to combine their centuries’ worth of knowledge to discuss issues affecting the Marine Corps.
“We have a vast amount of experience in the master gunnery sergeant and sergeant major community,” said Sgt. Maj. Robert Colon, II MEF sergeant major. “In my opinion, no one is tapping into that. No one is soliciting information from the senior enlisted leadership for issues, whether it’s II MEF specific or Marine Corps specific. We’re not getting them together and committing them to interact and discuss issues that are pertinent to the Corps.”
The symposium began with opening remarks from Lt. Gen. James Amos, commanding general, II MEF. The first day of the symposium involved operational briefs. Marines broke into groups the second day where they discussed different issues throughout the Corps and prepared a presentation for the third day.
The 15th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. John Estrada also paid a visit to the symposium.
“This is the first time I have seen a MEF-wide symposium like this, and what a great idea. I don’t know why we haven’t been doing this before,” said Estrada. “(With) all the experience and knowledge that’s in this room, I think it’s foolish of us not to tap into that and listen to what these Marines have to say.”
Estrada spoke about issues that were brought up at the noncommissioned officer symposium, answered a few questions and wrote down more ideas generated by the group.
“The good thing that comes out of this is all this collective experience in here. They’re going to make recommendations up, that’s going to come on up to the commandant of the Marine Corps,” said Estrada.
Topics covered at the symposium were who should receive the Combat Action Ribbon, women in combat, injured support programs, Corporal’s Course, training, and the issuing of new equipment.
“Because we’ve brought all of the E-9s together, we’re getting a wide variety of topics that just don’t touch a specific (military occupational specialty); it affects all of us,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Kevin Meadows, II MEF communications chief.
Colon was pleased with the recommendations the symposium came up with. “I think there was a little apprehension at first, but once we got started with the communications level, the interaction has been extremely professional. The senior enlisted leadership in II MEF is alive and well and has a lot of good ideas and thoughts that they bring to the table,” said Colon, who also thanked his staff for putting the symposium together.
When asked if he’d like to see more E-9 symposiums, Colon said, “There should be some forum to bring our senior enlisted leaders together. I think that senior enlisted PME is lacking and is stagnant. And we just don’t do enough for senior enlisted leaders in the Marine Corps.”
“It’s great for me to interact with all my peers, it’s like going to the Sergeant’s Course again and sharing life experiences within our Corps, so we can shape the future of our Corps,” said Meadows.