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Sergeants Major Symposium discusses budget cuts, promotion opportunities and more

Jul. 29, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
A digital photo illustration was created to promote the 2013 Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Symposium, taking place July 29 to Aug. 2 near Washington, D.C.
A digital photo illustration was created to promote the 2013 Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Symposium, taking place July 29 to Aug. 2 near Washington, D.C. (Illustration by Sgt. Marionne T. Mangrum / Marine)
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Cuts to the Corps’ budget, a new safety course for ground troops and promotion opportunities are high on the agenda for this year’s Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Symposium in Arlington, Va., from July 29 to Aug. 2.

Top enlisted Marines attending will be briefed on the state of the Corps and will have an opportunity to raise concerns they might have during an open forum. Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Mike Barrett said the Corps’ top enlisted leaders juggle many tasks each day, including leadership and societal challenges.

“We are ready and will take on whatever is addressed,” he told Marine Corps Times. “We will own it — and we will figure it out.”

Day one of the symposium kicked off Monday with talks about the ever-present issue of sequestration, which will continue to hit the service’s budget hard unless there is congressional intervention to remove the automatic spending cuts. Gunnery Sgt. Chanin Nuntavong, Barrett’s spokesman, said talks on facilities sustainment, military construction projects and equipment modernization will be covered.

Senior enlisted leaders will spend two days learning about the Corps’ new Ground Commander’s Force Preservation and Safety Course, Nuntavong said. The course is scheduled to get a test run at the symposium, said Michael S. Miller, head of the Marine Corps Safety Division’s Safety & Occupational Health Branch. Similar to training required for aviators, it will better train ground troops on how to prevent issues like fatigue or slips and falls.

TheCorps has invested $2.5 billion in new residential facilities, and top enlisted Marines will discuss the types of oversight needed to keep them in good shape. The symposium will include discussions on oversight for bachelor enlisted quarters, Nuntavong said. Barracks managers across the service recently completed a six-part course designed to help them develop management basics.

Preserving readiness is another main theme of the symposium, Nuntavong said, and that means looking at how to best balance the Corps. That starts with making sure the Corps has high-quality people and that unit readiness is preserved. It also means taking care of infrastructure and modernizing equipment, he said. All of those factors contribute to the Marine Corps being able to respond to calls across the globe.

Talks will also center around future initiatives and the way ahead, Nuntavong said. Personnel issues for enlisted Marines, including assignments and promotions, will be addressed, he said, as will new equipment and new capabilities. Leadership development will be emphasized. And in addition to discussing what’s happening on the ground in Afghanistan, leaders will discuss cyber and special operations capabilities.

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