Photo Information

Marines assigned to the Urban Leaders Course at 1st Marine Division Schools, I Marine Expeditionary Force, clear a hallway during a live-fire training exercise aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Sept. 25, 2015. The class teaches fire team and squad leaders skills and tactics to be successful in urban environments, which they can share with the Marines they lead and the leadership of their entire unit. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Caitlin Bevel)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Caitlin Bevel

Marines set the curve at Division Schools

15 Oct 2015 | Lance Cpl. Caitlin Bevel I Marine Expeditionary Force

The Scout Sniper School at School of Infantry – West, Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, is an elite program that had a graduation rate of only 37 percent. Division Schools, 1st Marine Division, developed a course to better prepare Marines, which raised the graduation rate to 52 percent.

The school also offers Urban Leaders Course to teach new basic infantry tactics as the landscape of combat changes. The class teaches fire team and squad leaders skills and tactics to be successful in urban environments, which they can share with the Marines they lead and the leadership of their entire unit.

Division Schools aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, offers classes such as the Pre-Scout Sniper Course and Urban Leaders Course to prepare Marines for future training and eventually combat.

“We have been directly tasked by the commanding general to improve the division’s combat readiness,” said Maj. Thomas Harris, the director of Division Schools. “We do that through either small unit or individual training on specific skill sets that are common within the infantry as well as across the division.”

Simpler training, like specific weapons skills, are taught independently within each battalion, but the school relieves the burden of time from the units when it comes to more in-depth training, said Harris.

Sergeant Matthew Muro, an Urban Leaders Course instructor at Division Schools, said that bringing the Marines to one centralized location for detailed or advanced training creates continuity of skills and techniques.

“We bring in subject matter experts from all over the division,” said Muro. “We’re taking that mixture of experiences and information and giving it to the Marines in an environment where they can focus on learning the skills.”

While classes like the Pre-Scout Sniper Course run almost continuously, the school also tries to determine what new courses 1st Marine Division could use to improve combat readiness.

“We are always trying to figure out what the division needs and how we can fill some of those training gaps,” said Harris. “The ability to impact the division, both with the courses we currently offer as well as being nimble and responsive to the division’s training needs, is a great opportunity.”

Harris added that the school is currently looking into developing courses to prepare Marines to work in the Fire Direction Center, which requires complex mortar skills.
Division Schools is constantly adapting to the changing demands of the division thanks to the dedication of the instructors.

“In my time in the Marine Corps, this has been one of the best places to work with individuals,” said Muro. “This is where the Marines who really know their jobs come to take that knowledge and pass it on.”

The challenging courses offered at Division Schools prepare Marines for future operations and ensure they are equipped, organized and ready to be effective in increasingly complex environments around the world.