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Lance Cpl. Jordan Clay, a team leader with Company A, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, searches for enemy activity during a Tactical Small Unit Leaders Course exercise at Combat Center Range 200 Feb. 9. Clay and more than 40 other Marines from the battalion spent three weeks honing crucial skills needed by team leaders to be effective in a combat environment.

Photo by Cpl. R. Logan Kyle

'First Team' trains new leaders

11 Feb 2010 | Cpl. R. Logan Kyle

From the moment an infantry Marine joins his first unit he waits for his opportunity to lead Marines in combat. Thanks to the Tactical Small Unit Leaders Course, those Marines can lead their peers with the knowledge and confidence needed to be successful.

More than 45 Marines with 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, completed the TSULC here Feb. 12 as part of the unit’s preparation to replace 2nd Bn., 7th Marines, aboard the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit later this summer.

            Lt. Col. Todd Simmons, the battalion commander, said TSULC, a three-week course, gives Marines the tools they need to transition from followers to leaders.

“We’re teaching the Marines the basic standards and knowledge needed by fire team leaders to the point they feel confident in coaching and training their Marines,” said Simmons, a Watervliet, N.Y., native. “We had a cadre of sergeants, [staff noncommissioned officers] and officers from each company instructing the Marines throughout the course.”

The Marines spent three weeks honing their skills in communication, patrolling, isolation, weapons tactics and other elements of combat.

             First Lt. Ryan S. Tice, the executive officer of Company A, and a TSULC instructor, said the Marines continuously improved throughout the course.

            “There were Marines with different levels of experience and knowledge out here coming into the course,” said Tice, a Nutley, N.J. native. “For me, witnessing the maturation process of these Marines’ abilities was amazing. Things we covered in the first couple weeks stuck with the Marines and weren’t needed to be brought up again.”

            Lance Cpl. Thomas B. Freeman, a team leader with Co. C, 1st Bn., 7th Marines, has been with the battalion for nearly two years, and said being put in a leadership position means a lot to him.

            “I’m glad to have my skills honed in as a leader,” said Freeman, a New Orleans, La., native. “I’ve got a greater understanding of the different weapons, assault tactics and basic leadership skills now.”

            Freeman said working with different Marines throughout the course was a fulcrum point, and he looks forward to training with his Marines again.

            “Working with new guys will only get you so far,” he said. “It’ll be nice to get back to my guys and begin working on our bond. We need to all get on the same page and create that bond and kind of intuition grunts have with each other.”

            The Marines will be recognized for their hard work and completion of the course during a small graduation ceremony at the battalion headquarters today.

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