PACIFIC OCEAN -- Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit completed Corporal’s Course aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) while underway in the South China Sea, Sept. 27, 2018.
Corporal’s Course is unique to the Marine Corps; it is part of the continuous personal and professional development for Marine leaders. As Professional Military Education, it challenges every Marine participant to push themselves physically and mentally, thus creating a better leader in the end.
The course, which is usually three-weeks long, is condensed into two weeks while deployed. During the course, Marines with Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines; Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 (Reinforced); Combat Logistics Battalion 31; and the 31st MEU Command Element, learned about warfare, operations planning, tactical communications, sword and guidon manual, land navigation and small-unit leadership principles.
The lessons learned during Corporal’s Course help junior noncommissioned officers learn and refine small-unit leadership principles, according to Sgt. Bradly Evenson, a faculty adviser for Corporal’s Course and a rifleman with BLT 2/5.
“Corporal’s Course helps remind them of the basics of just being a Marine,” said Evenson, a native of Marshall, Minnesota. “If the Marines don’t know the basic concepts they’re not going to be able to lead their Marines properly. It all falls back to the basics.”
NCOs, the foundation of the Corps’ leadership hierarchy, always lead from the front. Corporals in the Marine Corps hold a special trust and confidence as NCOs – they form the backbone of the Corps, according to Evenson. As the first link in most junior Marines’ leadership chain, corporals set the standard of both personal and professional conduct.
“NCOs play the role of the fighter-leader concept,” said Evenson. “We have to be the example.”
During the course the Marines were given multiple lessons about leadership principles. One of the lessons was about ensuring tasks are understood, supervised and accomplished. This means inspecting what you expect, by ensuring that any task given to the Marines are correctly completed and executed, according to Cpl. Jesica Fleming, a dog handler with the 31st MEU.
“As the backbone, we are here to enforce regulations and keep structure for junior Marines,” said Fleming, a native of Wellington, Alabama. “We memorize the noncommissioned officers creed and live by it. We continue to challenge ourselves to our limits while also setting the proper example for other Marines.”
The Marines in Corporals Course learned that as NCOs they have to know their Marines, seek self-improvement, set the example, make sound decisions, be technically and tactically proficient, be responsible and seek responsibility, according to Fleming.
“Corporal’s Course helped expand our knowledge,” said Fleming. “It gave us a better understanding of what being a good leader is. This course molded us into not only stronger NCOs, but better Marines.”