KUWAIT -- U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait, Ambassador Douglas A. Silliman, visited U.S. Marines and Sailors with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command (SPMAGTF-CR-CC) on March 25, 2016, to be the guest speaker during the final iteration of the SPMAGTF-CR-CC 16.1 command-sponsored Corporals Course.
The task force’s Marines and Sailors are deployed to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility with a crisis response mission spanning 20 nations.
During the graduation ceremony, Silliman highlighted the commitment and sacrifices service members make on a daily basis, and reiterated the importance of being a good leader.
“It is my pleasure to be here to congratulate the graduates of the Corporals Course for the work that they have done,” said Silliman. “I want to thank the men and women who have been through this difficult course, first of all for their commitment to their country, secondly for their commitment to their service and third, and probably most importantly, for their commitment for improving themselves and making themselves better in their jobs and skills.”
Although the unit’s mindset is an operational one, the Marines take any opportunity granted to sharpen their leadership skills and complete enlisted professional military education requirements.
Headquarters Company of SPMAGTF-CR-CC conducted a total of four iterations of Corporals Course, graduating over 160 students from the joint branches.
“The course entailed the [period of instruction] courses given to us from [Headquarters, Marine Corps in] Quantico, Virginia,” said U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Alfonso Lopez, the company first sergeant for HQs Company and assistant director for the course. “We were able to put four classes together …there was not too much difference, because we had the same resources as [back home] as far as materials. We had capabilities of putting the students’ workbooks together; we had swords and guide-on sticks, which we used for drill.”
The course counted on nine faculty advisors, of which two were staff noncommissioned officers (SNCOs) and seven sergeants.
All faculty advisors were volunteers from across the task force, and due to the fact that they are in a deployed setting, they performed their instructor and mentor duties in addition to their mission obligations.
“I volunteered to be an instructor to challenge myself and to lead corporals,” said U.S. Marine Sgt. Ricardo Guerra, a faculty advisor for the course. “It was a chance to take on a collateral billet, break everyday routines, and put myself out of my comfort zone.”
The course took the Marines on a leadership journey. It taught the corporals how to handle and perform sword and guide-on manual, as well as drill.
“[Noncommissioned officers] are leaders by the rank that they wear,” said Lopez. “The training that we give them is more tools for their toolbox, and they get to sharpen them and use those tools to make them better leaders (in the Corps), not just in their [work sections] but also outside of their [work sections].”
The three-week course also reiterated Marine Corps customs, history, leadership traits and it indoctrinated an NCO mentality in the corporals for the first time.
“I hope that the students take what they learned throughout the course and apply it to their individual sections and their everyday lives,” said Guerra. “Every Marine takes certain traits from their leaders. If I have affected even one of them in a positive way, I am satisfied.”
Silliman’s visit reinforced the value of being strong leaders and was an exclusive one, the SPMAGTF-CR-CC Marines and Sailors were pleased to host him as their guest.
“It is very distinct and unique that you have someone of that stature to be the guest speaker,” said Lopez. “I think that was the cherry on top to finish our last course.”
Guerra added that “the students were also honored to have the U.S. ambassador speak at their graduation.”