Lance corporals assigned to 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward) take part in a leadership seminar at Camp Dwyer, Afghanistan, in 2011. Marine officials are developing a new education program focusing exclusively on lance corporals, and it will involve direct interaction with their unit leaders. (Cpl. Kenneth Jasik/Marine Corps)
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Lance corporals will soon get face-to-face time with their unit leaders in a new seminar that will become part of their required professional military education.
Training and Education Command, in conjunction with Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Mike Barrett, is developing the required seminar to address some of the service’s most troublesome issues, said Maj. Gen. Tom Murray, TECOM’s commanding general.
“It’s an environment where you sit down with your lance corporals, and you talk about all of these issues,” Murray said. “It’s ethics, their behavior, the sexual assaults, sexual harassment, hazing — all these things.”
The curriculum is still in development, he said, but he expects the timeline for the start of the seminar to be announced soon. It will be in addition to Leading Marines, the online course lance corporals take before they are promoted to corporal.
Noncomnissioned officers and staff NCOs must complete a seminar at each rank as part of their PME, and Murray said senior enlisted leaders recognized that it would benefit the Marine Corps if lance corporals did the same. Unit leadership will conduct the seminars, which aim to get everyone “back on the same sheet of music and living life by our core commitments,” Murray said.
The Leading Marines course that E-3s take emphasizes critical thinking and key leadership fundamentals. But even though the course is interactive, there’s no substitute for unit leaders sitting down with Marines and talking to them about important issues, Murray said.
'You are important'
Gunnery Sgt. Edwin Hidalgo, who was a finalist for Marine Corps Times’ 2013 Marine of the Year award, was nominated for the recognition by his command largely because of the success he had in implementing a seminar for lance corporals in his unit. He serves as the operations chief and first sergeant for Headquarters Company, Marine Aircraft Group 24, out of Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
Implementing a Corps-wide lance corporals seminar is a great idea — and much needed, he said.
“A lot of Marines feel like they’re left out at times,” Hidalgo said. “Now we’re going back and saying, ‘You are important.’”
The seminar he started for MAG-24 quickly caught on and was adopted by the entire 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.
The key to its success, he said, was treating lance corporals like noncommissioned officers. They were given an introduction to and history of NCOs so they could develop clear aspirations as they worked toward picking up their next rank, he said.
“The biggest thing is to teach them that, ‘Hey, you are a leader,’” Hidalgo said. “Even as a lance corporal, people still look up to you and try to emulate who you are. Some fail to recognize that they are leaders of Marines.”
The development of MAG-24’s program was important to Hidalgo, he said, because many of the issues the Corps is facing involve junior Marines. Dealing with issues like sexual assault or drug and alcohol abuse through face-to-face leadership is vital, he said.
“Everyone comes from a different path of life ... but we all have values instilled in us,” he said. “So you have to refresh individuals on why they joined the United States Marine Corps.”
What will make the service-wide seminar a success, he said, is getting young Marines to remember that their job doesn’t end when they hang up their uniform. Getting them to think about doing the right thing, even when no one is looking, or having the courage to step in and speak up when they see something wrong, is imperative, he said.
Empowering lance corporals and developing a course just for them will tap into their leadership potential, he added.
The seminar at 1st MAW included role-playing scenarios specifically designed for the lance corporals, he said. It also gave them opportunities to ask a panel of corporals and sergeants any questions they had about being an NCO.
Hidalgo predicted Marine units in which leaders value professional development and military education will achieve the biggest success with the service-wide seminar now under development.
He credits his wing leaders for placing a big emphasis on PME. When lance corporals completed the seminar at 1st MAW, they were motivated, he said.
That’s exactly the response Marine leaders hope to get when they introduce their version of the lance corporal seminar across the service.