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New senior enlisted course focuses on the 'art of war'

Aug. 17, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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Master sergeants and first sergeants will soon have the opportunity to take a course designed to help them enhance critical thinking and adaptability in the war zone.

Master sergeants and first sergeants will soon have the opportunity to take a course designed to help them enhance critical thinking and adaptability in the war zone.

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Master sergeants and first sergeants will soon have the opportunity to take a course designed to help them enhance critical thinking and adaptability in the war zone.

The new senior enlisted professional military education course has been in the works since 2008, at the direction of the commandant and sergeant major of the Marine Corps, said Col. Sean Gibson, a spokesman for Training and Education Command. It was developed to address the absence of further study in leadership and the art of war for senior enlisted Marines, he said.

The announcement was made in Marine administrative message 399/13, dated Aug. 12 and signed by Brig. Gen. Thomas Weidley, commanding general of Education Command and president of Marine Corps University.

The course follows a five-week-long curriculum aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. The format will include guided discussions, lectures and operational planning teams, Gibson said. The following five core areas of study will be covered:

■ Leadership, to include how to affect command climate.

■ Professional ethics, including decision-making discussions.

■ Warfighting, including study of the Marine Corps Planning Process.

■ Joint operations, including a Pacific challenge exercise.

■ Communication studies, to include professional writing and public speaking.

Marine Corps University built the course around those five areas based on the needs of the operating forces, Gibson said. Now every master sergeant and first sergeant will be eligible to attend the course, but the throughput can’t cover every newly promoted E-8 just yet.

“We’re continuing to build the structure required to support increased attendance,” he said.

Space to get into one of the five courses running in fiscal 2014 will be limited, and Marines should be nominated to attend by their command. The submissions should be submitted up their chain of command to their Marine Corps Force-level sergeant major. The sergeants major will then screen the applicants and select the most qualified to attend.

There are 52 spaces allocated for each of the five courses running throughout the year. The first class at Quantico starts on Oct. 21. And while space is tight, Gibson said there is no immediate plan to include an alternative distance learning version of the course.

The course will not be a prerequisite for promotion to master gunnery sergeant or sergeant major, Gibson said. But as the drawdown makes remaining in the Marine Corps more competitive, many leaders are touting the importance of remaining promotable by attending professional military education courses.

Master sergeants and first sergeants will still be required to complete the existing seminar and self-study course in place for their rank. Those will serve as a prerequisite for the new resident course, Gibson said.

Marines looking to take the course also are required to hold an active security clearance and have one year remaining on their contract.

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