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Staff Sgt. James Case, the chief instructor of the Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division Lance Corporal Seminar Leadership and Ethics Seminar, briefs students on the plan of the day after a combat conditioning session aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Jan. 27, 2016. The weeklong seminar focuses on preparing lance corporals physically and mentally to become successful noncommissioned officers, while building the foundation for the more difficult residential courses like Corporals Course and Sergeants Course.

Photo by Cpl. Demetrius Morgan

Training the leaders of tomorrow: Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division hosts Lance Corporal Seminar

28 Jan 2016 | Cpl. Demetrius Morgan 1st Marine Division

Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division hosted a Lance Corporal Leadership and Ethics Seminar for 55 Marines from Jan. 25–29, 2016, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.

Lance Corporal Leadership and Ethics Seminar recently became a mandatory requirement for junior Marines looking to become noncommissioned officers, and its resident curriculum supplements the previously required, online-only Leading Marines Marine Net course. The week-long seminar focuses on training Lance Corporals physically and mentally to be the best NCO’s they can be, while building the foundation for the more difficult resident courses like Corporals Course and Sergeants Course. 

“The seminar teaches Marines the basics about being an NCO and how to be a good leader,” said Sgt. Jessica Dimarco, a seminar instructor with Headquarters Bn., 1st Mar. Div.. “It teaches them how to think outside the box and get out of the normal lance corporal mindset, so when they do become NCOs they can apply the things they talk about here, and maybe help improve aspects of the Marine Corps that they think need to be improved.”  

The Marine Corps obstacle course is one of the ways students at the seminar are trained physically. The course is designed to build confidence and endurance, while Marines exert maximum effort to maneuver through the different obstacles in front of them.

Students were split into four teams and each team had to get through the course together, which forced teamwork to get all members through every obstacle.
“In combat, Marines don’t leave anyone behind, so I get why they made us do it like that,” said Lance Cpl. Jonathan Branch, a radio technician with Communications Company, 1st Mar. Div. “In a way we all had to be leaders, because some people were better at portions of the obstacle course than others so we just helped each other out.”    

After the designated combat conditioning portion of the day is complete, Marines in the course conduct group discussions. The seminar encourages lance corporals to engage in in-depth discussions centered on the leadership fundamentals taught in “Leading Marines,” a course which teaches leadership fundamentals, as well as key Corps-wide issues currently affecting Marines. Subjects covered can include mentoring techniques, professional conduct, leadership styles and core values.
Dimarco explained that outside of the course’s guided discussion, many lance corporals tend to avoid speaking their mind, especially around their superiors.

“This course isn’t about us teaching them,” she said.

“It’s about us putting information out there and [students] giving their opinions and feedback and discussing it with Marines from all over the place.”
Once the students have heard different viewpoints from their peers in the class, they gain perspective and return to their units more prepared to lead, Dimarco added.

Marines learn a variety of approaches to leadershipand discuss hypothetical situations an NCO might come across in their career. Although circumstances differ case by case, Marine leaders must be ready for anything. 

“The number one thing I’ve learned here is knowing how to handle different situations,” said Branch. “The Marine Corps knowledge and drill movements and things like that are definitely important but situations are always going to be different and knowing your own limits and still being able to handle anything that might come your way is the most important thing for NCOs.”

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