SOI trains II MEF NCOs

21 Jul 2006 | Sgt. Tracee L. Jackson

“Leadership is a heritage which has passed from Marine to Marine since the founding of the Corps…mainly acquired by observation, experience and emulation. Working with other Marines is the Marine leader’s school,” states Fleet Marine Field Manual 1-0, which covers the subjective skill of leadership.

While the majority of leadership is learned through day-to-day experience in the Corps, the Marine Corps eastern-seated School of Infantry has a supplemental curriculum to brush up the skills of junior noncommissioned officers from throughout the II Marine Expeditionary Force.

SOI is dedicated solely to producing war fighters. While it accepts Marines fresh out of boot camp and instills lifesaving infantry skills, an almost empty building with a dirt parking lot boasts one of the school’s new and fast-growing endeavors for NCOs from all over the II Marine Expeditionary Force, whether they’re paper-pushing administrative clerks or ground-pounding infantry grunts.

Although the concept of Corporals Course is not new to the Marine Corps, this unique program is created and maintained by the Marines who directly benefit from the program, making it a state-of-the-art course that’s making waves throughout II MEF.

Staff Sgt. Christopher I. Kamm fathered the 3-week course when he was a senior sergeant and now serves as the staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge. He claims the idea to build a corporal’s course from the ground was an extracurricular project during combat instructor duty.

“Combat instructor duty is a three-year tour,” he said. “You spend 2 years in the trenches and then get a year off to take care of other administrative tasks. On my year, I came up with the idea to stand up a corporal’s course, and the sergeant major liked it.”

Kamm started with only an idea, and after a few short weeks, he had developed a curriculum for the students, found a facility to hold classes and recruited a team of five instructors.

One reason the course is beneficial is due to its well-rounded staff, with backgrounds in communication, computers, supply and infantry, said Kamm.

Together, the motley crew provides input to NCOs about everyday life as a Marine, what varies between different jobs and the warrior ethos that doesn’t change throughout the Corps.

“The thing that’s different about corporal’s course today and the time I went through is that today’s corporal has operational experience,” said Kamm. “They may have a (Combat Action Ribbon) or Purple Heart, but they couldn’t counsel a Marine or move a platoon using correct drill movements for the life of them,” said Kamm.

Sgt. Benjamin Sheeley, an infantryman by trade, instructs the students in drill, Marine Corps tradition and modern warfighting.

“The course is designed to instill leadership values in junior NCOs so they can go back to their units and lead Marines,” he said.

Refresher classes, such as the ones provided by the SOI Corporal’s Course, ensures the traditions of the Marine Corps stay intact.

From training day one until graduation, the NCOs attending the course adapt and overcome to learn new things about themselves and their role in the Marine Corps. To learn how you can attend the course, contact your training NCO. 

Editor’s Note: This is the first part of a three-story series.