Tentynine Palms --
Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School‘s Communication Training Battalion graduated Communications Chief Course 1-16 and Basic Communications Officer Course 1-16 at the base theater, April 1, 2016.
Both classes are the first to graduate in 2016 and were the first to have a portion of an aligned curriculum for staff noncommissioned officers and officers in the communications field.
“Last year we started teaching officers [aboard the Combat Center] and we realized that there are a lot of similarities between the courses where relationships can be built between the senior enlisted personnel and the officers,” said Lt. Col. Speros Koumparakis, commanding officer, CTB. “From what I have seen, good relationships from the two groups were built and that will make communication platoons in the Fleet Marine Force that much better."
Gunnery Sgt. Alan Crittenden, communications chief, 3rd Marine Division, was the honor graduate of the Communications Chief Course. He along with fifteen communication chiefs graduated the course which spanned 40 training days and provided staff NCO’s with overall knowledge of equipment capabilities and system integration of all elements of transmission, telecommunication and information systems found throughout the Marine Corps.
“We taught them about force modernization and they are ready to take it and run with it,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Carl Bisson, communications chief, CTB. “These staff noncommissioned officers who will be future communications chiefs, or are currently working in that capacity, are anxious to train the next generation of young Marines who will be better, smarter and have new technology to work with.”
According to Bisson, force modernization is an observation of the military occupational specialties of digital wideband repairmen and technical controllers, meant to bring the communications field to the next level with cybersecurity, command and control and new technology the operating forces are scheduled to receive or already have.
After the senior staff NCO’s graduated, 2nd Lt. Juliann Hitt, honor graduate, and more than 68 lieutenants walked across the stage, signifying their successful completion of the 21-week Basic Communications Officer Course. Instructors of the course provided qualification training for selected officers to prepare them for platoon commander, staff duties and other responsibilities in entry-level communications billets.
“Many of them are going to their first FMF unit and there are three main points that I want them to walk away with,” Koumparakis said. “One is to know who they work for and what they want to accomplish. Two is to know the mission of the organization. Third is to always be a leader. The platoon does not serve them; they should always strive to serve the platoon and make them the best.”
In the final two weeks of training, the officer’s course and the chief’s course constructed a communications plan for a notional Large Scale Exercise similar to the Marine Expeditionary Brigade-level LSE held aboard the Combat Center.
“We make it extremely hard for them here at the schoolhouse so it’s easier for them in an actual scenario,” Koumparakis said. “We took the lieutenants, who have orders to future Ground Combat Elements, Logistic Combat Elements, and Air Combat Elements, and we had them create a plan for their respective portion of the Marine Air Ground Task Force with the chiefs mentoring them throughout the exercise. Traditionally we trained everyone for infantry battalions, now we are training them to create communications plans for a MAGTF similar to what they are going to be doing in the FMF for a Marine Expeditionary Unit or Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force.”
According to Koumparakis, good relationships and bonds were built between the two groups that would not have been possible prior to them coming together. He plans on reviewing the curriculum with the instructors to see what improvements can be made.
“Like anything new, it needs refinement,” Koumparakis said. “But from what I have seen from the two groups, great relationships were built. The interpersonal relationships they build here, they should maintain as they go out and support every unit of the MAGTF.”