October 18, 2012
By Lance Cpl. B.A. Stevens | Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan —
Future sergeants major gather from all corners of Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni to attend Corporals Course, a path which molds Marines into better noncommissioned officers.
“Corporals Course is the beginning of Professional Military Education and is the foundation of leadership for newly-promoted corporals,” said Sgt. Gregory B. Williams, Corporals Course lead instructor.
Students also understand the importance of taking the course.
“Corporals Course is important for small unit leadership,” said Cpl. Holly Andrews, meteorologist and oceanographic analyst with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron.
“As corporals, we are not only responsible for our work load, but that of all junior Marines under our charge.” Corporals Course is not a requirement, but is designed to aid noncomissioned officers.
“The course is 20 training days and typically takes one calendar month to complete, depending on holidays,” said Williams.
The current class has only been in session for four training days, and the curriculum is fast-paced.
“So far, I have learned the initial stages of what it means to be the backbone of the Marine Corps,” said Andrews. “We have learned sword and guidon manual, how to properly conduct operational risk management, the way to run a mess night, how to properly lead a physical training session and the importance of public speaking.”
While commands have the ability to recommended students to attend the course, many Marines use the educational opportunity to gain career advantages.
“I volunteered to be here because I wanted to make sure I was up to date on PME,” said Andrews.
Corporal Course students face many obstacles and challenges throughout the class.
“The most difficult part of the course for me is the communication barrier,” said Andrews. “In my MOS, I work mostly with pilots, ensuring the safety of their flights, but here I work with fellow corporals from all different MOSs and we have to learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses in order to effectively carry out a multitude of tasks.”
For some, other portions of the course are the most challenging.
“The final exercise is where corporals and instructors do a forced march around Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni,” said Williams. “Afterward, corporals demonstrate the ability to complete things such as five paragraph order, fire plan sketches, land navigation and squad tactics.”
Another daunting task is final drill, where Marines drill a squad while instructors grade their performance.
While it may never be required, with such a multitude of lessons taught during Corporals Course, it will continue to further enhance the proficiency of Marine NCOs.