CAMP RIPPER, Iraq --
Watch out Marines, Regimental Combat Team 5’s Corporals Course graduates are out and looking to lead.
Headquarters Company, RCT-5, hosted their first Corporals Course of the year April 7-17, here. The course was held to further develop leadership in the corporals of RCT-5. Marines attending the course learned a variety of leadership skills to include close order drill, sword manual, troop leading steps, giving a presentation and managing combat stress.
“The purpose of Corporals Course is to give the Marines the first step in the foundation of leadership, to teach them what they need to know to become noncommissioned officers,” said 1st Sgt. Michael J. Pritchard, first sergeant, Headquarters Company, who is from Munsonville, N.H.
On average, Corporals Course lasts three weeks in the U.S., but due to the operational tempo in Iraq, the class was shortened to 10 days.
“One of the main reasons why we decided to do (the Corporals Course) out here in Iraq is because we are going to be here for a year,” said Pritchard. “The commandant and sergeant major of the Marine Corps have been pushing for over a year to get back to the basics,” said Pritchard. “Since we’re out here we didn’t really have a lot of time, but we wanted to get the course in to try and give the Marines some kind of leadership responsibility.”
The regiment’s sergeant major made a point to speak with the corporals on varying issues throughout the course.
“The big thing that I think this course represents is character,” said Sgt. Maj. Robert D. Thielen, sergeant major, RCT-5, at the Corporals Course graduation ceremony. “One of the things that we are doing is instilling institutional character within our junior leaders. This is the first step of their leadership training that they have really received.”
Normally in Corporals Course, there are designated instructors who teach the majority of the courses, but due to the operational tempo here, staff noncommissioned officers and a few sergeants from the regiment volunteered to teach the corporals. Without their assistance, it would have been difficult to conduct the course.
“Getting so many people out here to come out and instruct……it’s fantastic,” said Thielen, who is from Richmond, Minn. “(It) really shows that RCT-5 is interested in developing leaders.”
Although everyone in the class graduated, the effectiveness of the course can only be seen in the application of the materials learned by the NCOs.
“I learned how to be a better leader, how to lead Marines, (how to) teach them right from wrong and provide them with the resources that they need to succeed,” said Cpl. Eramis Q.Gaddie, 23, who is from Lorain, Ohio. “The most beneficial thing about the course was the course itself. In the short ten day period, I learned more about being an NCO than I could have learned without going to Corporals Course.”
The Marines that the newly educated corporals are continuing to lead are the real benefactors of the course.
“I’m going to be more of a mentor to my Marines,” said Gaddie, who is a field wireman with RCT-5. “I used to punish my Marines and now I’m going to take a step back and analyze the situation before I do anything.”