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Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center
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Marines from the Combat Center’s Sergeants Course, Class 6-10, learn to make fireplan sketches near the Combat Center’s obstacle course Sept. 9th.

Photo by Lannce Cpl. William J. Jackson

Schoolhouse gives Marines tools for combat leadership

10 Sep 2010 | Lance Cpl. William J. Jackson Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

Many non-infantry Marines have supported Operations Iraqi or Enduring Freedom, but a majority of those Marines haven’t done operations outside the “wire.” Luckily, the Marine Corps offers those Marines the opportunity to sharpen their skills when the time comes to cross the line-of-departure.

The Combat Center’s Sergeants Course hones the Marines’ leadership skills and allows them to better understand what needs to happen in any given situation, said Gunnery Sgt. Jeffrey Beaty, 4th platoon’s faculty advisor.

Marines from Class 6-10 participated in combat oriented education. During week three, the class has revved up with squad offensive tactics like military operations in urban terrain and squad defensive tactics like fireplan sketches.

During a class evaluation, the sergeants gathered near the Combat Center’s Mainside obstacle course Sept. 9, and were briefed by Gunnery Sgt. James Petty, 1st platoon faculty advisor and a native of Exeter, Calif., about what he expects to see in each fireplan sketch.

“Check this out,” Petty announced, quieting the class. “We have an acronym that we use when we set up the defense. It’s a step-by-step process where if you follow each letter in the acronym, to its entirety, you will have an adequate defensive position set up. It’s called SAFESOC (security, automatic weapons, fields of fire, entrenchment, supplementary/alternate positions, obstacles and camouflage).

Sergeant Matt Latuff, 3rd platoon, and a platoon sergeant for 3rd Battalion 4th Marine Regiment Company K, said the class is trained the right way – proficiently. “So any [non-infantry military occupational specialty] can get the basics.”

“In 2009, at [Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, Bridgeport, Calif.] we actually did it by the book, just like this,” said Latuff, referring to the evaluation conducted Sept. 9.

Latuff added that the Marines can learn a lot from what the class has to offer.

“The purpose is to give us practical hands on experience in preparing a fireplan sketch as a squad leader, in case we encounter this kind of situation on a provisional security detachment,” said Sgt. Daniel Lutz, 1st platoon and the marketing and public affairs representative for Recruiting Station Kansas City, 9th Marine Corps District.

The class mission is geared towards preparing leaders and preserving the history and heritage of the Marine Corps but the class is tweaked to educate the Marines for combat.

“I would have to say most of the training and curriculum provided correlates with combat in the sense of being a leader,” said Beaty. “Through classes such as squad offensive and defensive tactics, range cards, call for fire, casualty evacuation and a few other ground side classes, we give them enough knowledge to understand the concepts, the Kingston, Tenn., native added.

“All of the instructors are truly knowledgeable on each subject and are very diligent in encouraging class participation throughout each lesson,” said Sgt. Lee Davis, a KC-130 loadmaster for Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 234 and a Marine from 1st Platoon. “I have learned basic combat skills that every Marine sergeant should know.”

“The training has given me a better understanding of a small unit leader’s role in combat, and a basic understanding of what the ‘grunts’ do,” added the Ft. Worth, Texas, native.

“After completing the first three weeks of training, my attitude has completely changed,” Davis said. “The tough physical training and intriguing classes coupled with the camaraderie built with sergeants from all aspects of the Marine Corps have made this the best training I have attended at this juncture in my career.”

“I will definitely be recommending this course to all of my peers and strongly encouraging my junior [noncommissioned officers] to attend a resident Sergeants Course as soon as possible,” he added.

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms