MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Senior enlisted and commissioned Marines, along with a handful of Army officers, filled a Marine Corps Tactics and Operations Group classroom for the very first integrated Ground Operations Chief Course and Tactical Marine Air Ground Task Force Integration Course graduation April 8, 2011.
In January, Gen. James F. Amos, the commandant of the Marine Corps, signed into effect the Operations & Tactics Training Program Marine Corps Order 3502.7 that requires operations chiefs and officers to become certified as operations and tactics instructors before assuming an operations leadership billet.
The newly-integrated course prepared the Class 2-11 ground combat element operations chiefs for operational planning, fire support planning and coordination and warfighting functions at the battalion and regimental level, said Master Gunnery Sgt. Dennis Stieber, chief instructor for the Ground Operations Chief Course, out of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Each class now incorporates non-infantry subject matter experts to craft a well-rounded operations chief, capable of taking charge of a ground combat element with a more sharpened skill set.
“[The Marines] will be comfortable with taking the lead. They should be able to emplace and displace the [Combat Operations Center], and they should be able to take the lead on training the COC battle staff,” said Steiber, before the graduation ceremony began.
Steiber said the training staff dismantled the old operations chief course and essentially built the new integrated course from scratch. “There’s more practical application than there is classroom time. They spend the majority of the seven weeks actually doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” added the Marathon, Wisc., native.
The first course, Class 2-11, integrated training officers and enlisted Marines, allowing them to work under similar conditions they will face while serving as part of a unit. Each gained the knowledge it will take to work together as ops chiefs and officers in their respective job.
“It was all valuable and pertinent training,” said Capt. Quinci D. Martin, about the two courses. “I’d recommend it for anyone.” Martin, a self-proclaimed “Navy brat” from the Naval Station Subic Bay, Philippine Islands, will take charge as the supply officer for the 8th Communications Battalion at MCB Camp Lejeune, N.C.
“I have been paying attention to this particular course,” said Brig. Gen. H. Stacy Clardy, III, the Combat Center’s commanding general. “It’s important to me personally, as a Marine, as the commanding general here, a former director of Expeditionary Warfare School, but more importantly it’s important to the Commandant of the Marine Corps and therefore imperative that this [course] goes well.”
“We as Marines are war fighters. The wars we are fighting now have gotten more complicated, more complex,” said Clardy. “We need skilled operators who understand the complexities of the battlefield, who understand how training should be conducted in a sophisticated manner, and just as importantly, how to plan and execute operations. We owe it to the command to give them those skills and that’s why this course exists.”
The pilot class received their Operations and Tactics Instructor certificates and are qualified to assume an operations billet as per the order.
For master sergeants and master gunnery sergeants who have not worked in a combat operations center, this is a great opportunity for them to understand the job and what’s expected of them in garrison and while deployed forward, said Master Sgt. Bernardino Moreno, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge for the Doctrine, Standards and Training Division for MCTOG. “Anybody that has the opportunity to come to the course definitely needs to come. Even the ones that have experience in working in a combat operations center can still learn a great deal by just going through [the course].”
The 57 officers and 18 enlisted personnel of Class 2-11 signify the way ahead in better training and preparing operations chiefs and officers for their role within a battalion or regiment.
Colonel William F. Mullen, III, the commanding officer of MCTOG, said the goal was for the graduates to be able to work within a full-fledged COC and develop the proficiency they’ll need to succeed.
“At this point now we’re giving them the confidence to roll in there and take charge,” added Mullen.
“These [Marines] are ready to be operations chiefs. I’m very confident in that,” added Stieber.