Corporals lead from front: 26th MEU NCOs complete leadership course underway

17 Dec 2008 | Cpl. Patrick M. Johnson-Campbell 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Dependability, enthusiasm and initiative are just few leadership traits that corporals of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the USS San Antonio recently took into the Combined Corporal Leadership Course aboard USS San Antonio, but they walked away with more than they could have imagined.

From day one on Dec. 6, course director 1st Sgt. Walda Collins, Combat Logistics Battalion-26 sergeant major, told them the course was the “beginning foundation to leadership…to break away from peers and lead them along with their subordinates.”

The course packed 104 hours of instruction into 11 days. Time management was a main point throughout, according to instructors.

Sergeant Ryan M. Harshman, a course instructor and a howitzer section chief for Lima Battery, Battalion Landing Team 2/6, commented that the corporals received "more knowledge in less time."

“To be a leader, time management is the biggest challenge,” said Collins.

The 21 junior non commissioned officers brought 17 different military operation specialties to the course, which had a very positive effect, according to students and instructors alike. One team, one fight was a common theme throughout the course, they said.

“When performing tactical decisions games, having motormen, communicators and forward observers brought a lot of different points of view to the planning process,” said Harshman.

Physical training is the only portion of the course hindered by being held on ship. The corporals couldn’t take a physical fitness test like they would have if the course was held at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, NC. 

But not taking a PFT did not stop the corporals from running on the flight deck as a class or using the ship’s gym to physically train on the San Antonio.

When it came to knowledge there was no difference than taking the course back in the states.

“The course material is the same material is same as the Marine Corps University,” said Collins.

“I found it more challenging being on ship … Instead of taking a test at the end of every week, we were taking a test every other day,” commented Cpl. William R. Kullman, a radio operator with CLB-26. 

Besides knowledge and physical training, the corporals also trained and competed against each other on close order drill and sword manual.

“You can apply close order drill to everyday life by teaching Marines that building patterns can help them finish a task faster,” said Kullman.

Come graduation day Dec. 17, the corporals were ready to return to their work environments with more tools in their toolboxes, having a more in depth perception of how to apply the leadership traits and principles to leading their junior Marines and preparing them to lead as non commissioned officers, said Collins. 

“The corporals walk away with a better understanding what of it is to be a leader,” said Harshman.