2nd Lt. Philip R. Banham, a platoon commander with Battalion Landing Team 3/8, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducts training in Barnwell, S.C., in 2010. Officials at The Basic School are surveying the operating forces to make sure new lieutenants and warrant officers are meeting the needs of the Marine Corps. (Lance Cpl. Santiago G. Colon Jr. / Marine Corps)
Officials at The Basic School want to be sure they're turning out capable officers, so they're surveying the operating forces to make sure lieutenants and warrant officers fresh to the field are meeting the needs of the Marine Corps.
It is the third time TBS has surveyed each of the Marine Expeditionary Forces for the purpose of considering changes that may need to be made to the curriculum for the school that trains and turns out new officers. An annual review board looks at the results and discusses whether additions or other changes to the training can better meet the needs of the operating forces.
"The survey helps us look at our program of instruction here and make sure it's accurate," said Col. Todd Desgrosseilliers, commanding officer of TBS. "It provides commanders with a venue to provide feedback, so it closes the loop and [tells us] how well we're doing."
The written surveys are sent to each of the MEFs, including Marine Forces Reserve. TBS seeks feedback on lieutenants or warrant officers who have been in the field for 90 to 120 days. The input comes from written surveys and input gathered during meetings TBS staff has later when visiting each MEF.
The primary assessment is whether new officers are meeting what TBS calls its five "Horizontal Themes." If so, the officers are:
• Men or women of exemplary character.
• Devoted to leading Marines 24/7.
• Able to decide, communicate and act in the fog of war.
• War fighters who embrace the Corps' warrior ethos.
• Mentally strong and physically tough.
Desgrosseilliers said the new officers are generally listed as "capable" to "very capable" in these segments. Another section of the survey measures administrative and planning capabilities, and TBS graduates could use some additional training in those areas.
"As you shift from deploying to war to garrison, there's more emphasis on the training piece," he said of new officers' responsibilities. "So we need to shift our attention to how you manage unit training management or conduct unit training management."
Changes will address more administrative tasks, like writing fitness reports or developing training plans, he said. And since the survey results go directly back to TBS leaders, they have the ability to start adjusting training immediately.
TBS also gets input from staff noncommissioned officers.
"We want to see how effective [new officers] are in interacting with them," Desgrosseilliers said. "Interaction between staff NCOs and lieutenants is always more art than science, so we look at how you can build those relationships."