Photo Information

Sgt. Mark Berger, a cyber network operator with Headquarters Company, 3rd Marine Regiment, and a Sulligent, Ala., native, fireman carries a simulated casualty during Sergeants Course aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii Aug 19, 2015. The squad Berger was in was ambushed resulting in a Marine becaming a simulated casualty in the scenario. Sergeants Course is a vital part of professional military education for any Marine and helps to maintain the standards amongst the NCOs of the Marine Corps. The course supports MCB Hawaii’s mission, which is to provide facilities, programs and services in direct support of units, individuals and families to enhance and sustain combat readiness for all operating forces and tenant organizations aboard the installation. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Khalil Ross/Released)

Photo by Cpl. Khalil Ross

Building the backbone of the Corps

28 Aug 2015 | Cpl. Khalil Ross Marine Corps Base Hawaii

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII - A wounded man lies in a vast open field while a cool breeze plays over the grass and flowers. One Marine enters the field, followed by a second, then a third. The Marines walk heel to toe creating the illusion of gliding. Even with rifles and gear they hardly make a sound. As the Marines enter the field their heads swivel to and fro, always watching, scanning the area. Gunshots ring through the air and the Marines drop to their knees, each of them focused on where the sound is coming from. “Bang, Bang!” they yell, advancing on the targets while some provide cover to the wounded man.

This is one of the many scenarios that were played out Aug. 19, 2015, during Sergeants Course 7-15 Small Unit Leadership Evaluation aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

During SULE, 11 Marines participated in patrols around the base as well as random confrontations and scenarios to test the Marines’ ability to lead their squad.

“This was basically incorporating all the warfighting functions and small unit leadership principles that a lot of the students have learned throughout this course,” said Sgt. Timothy D. Barton, an infantry assaultman with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. “We lead troops in uncertain scenarios, sustained casualties, dealt with improvised explosive devices and called in 9 Lines.”

The entire exercise consisted of war functions condensed into a six to seven hour evaluation, according to the Minneapolis native.

Because SULE evaluates leadership skills, Barton said the Marines need to focus on their ability to effectively manage the Marines in their charge, directing their every movement and position on the battlefield.

“Every sergeant should know this because at our core, every Marine is a rifleman and anyone can be thrown into a situation at any time,” Barton said. “The need to properly employ Marines on the battlefield is something we all need to know.”

Warfighting isn’t the only thing the sergeants had to learn about. They also learned counseling, mentoring, close-order drill and joint operations.

The biggest thing for me was the administrative side of the house and gaining more cohesion between myself and the other sergeants,” Barton said. “Coming from the infantry, I only get that one perspective and opinions vary greatly across the Marine Corps.”

Barton added that through Sergeants Course, he was able to network with other sergeants and make new contacts to better support his junior Marines in the future.

Staff Sgt. LaVon Peterson, the chief faculty advisor of the Staff Noncommissioned Officer Academy, emphasized Marines in Sergeants Course, should remember leadership fundamentals above all else. They can tailor those skills to meet their individual needs. However, Sergeants Course is not where they are taught how to be leaders. Here, rather, they are given the tools to expound on the leadership traits and principles they already possess.

The students are not only evaluated on tactical decisions but also on leadership decisions as well,” the New York native said. “They need to have the ability to move their Marines in their squad. The hardest part is they are with their peers and it’s hard to motivate (those of equal rank). It takes a special kind of leader to move your peers from point A to point B.”

Sergeants Course is a professional military education requirement but it also helps create a well-rounded Marine, Barton said.

“Bring your ‘A’ game and be prepared to learn and learn fast cause it’s a condensed course,” he said. “Take from it everything you can and drink plenty of water — you’ll need it.”

The students are scheduled to graduate Aug. 26, 2015. There is a one-week grace period after a class graduates before the next course begins. Sergeants Course is a smattering of Marine Corps knowledge that every NCO should know. The course assists the mission of MCB Hawaii which is to provide programs and services in direct support of units, individuals and families in order to sustain combat readiness for all operating forces and tenant organizations aboard the installation.
Marine Corps Base Hawaii