Your NCO PME for today.

When the call goes out to,”Send in the Marines!” Americans expect a particular product. The success of the Marine Corps can be directly attributed to the efforts of Non Commissioned Officers for nearly 236 years.  Training Marine NCOs is like handling a hot piece of iron, you need to apply a hammer here and there until it is properly forged. In this instance I am happy to apply a little polish vice the hammer. By way of Professional Military Education (PME) I broke out a promotion warrant and a dictionary to go over some particulars with my NCOs recently. Afterwards I felt compelled to write it all down. What follows is directed toward young Marine leaders specifically but I suppose anyone of a military mindset will get something out of it.
Today for PME I present a Marine Corps promotion warrant to Corporal.    
To all who shall see these presents, greetings:
Know Ye, that reposing special trust and confidence in the fidelity and abilities of
 [insert name]
 I do appoint this Marine a
CORPORAL
in the
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
to rank as such from the 1st day of  [insert month], two thousand eleven.
“Effective with this appointment, you are charged to carefully and diligently execute the duties and responsibilities of a CORPORAL of Marines, and I do strictly direct and require all personnel of lesser grade to render obedience to appropriate orders. As a CORPORAL of Marines you must set the example for others to emulate. Your conduct and professionalism both on and off duty shall be above reproach. You are responsible for the accomplishment of your assigned mission and for the safety, professional development and well-being of the Marines in your charge. You will be the embodiment of our institutional core values of honor, courage and commitment. You will lead your Marines with firmness, fairness and dignity while observing and following the orders and directions of your senior leaders and enforcing all regulations and articles governing the discipline of the Armed Forces of the United States of America.”
If you are a Marine Corporal you have heard these words at least once. If a Sergeant, then twice as both warrants read the same. Often there is some question of what is expected of junior leads so let’s review the warrant again shall we?
“…reposing special trust and confidence in the fidelity and abilities of…”
Reposing: to place something in, especially confidence.
Trust: Assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone.
Confidence: Faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way.
Fidelity: Faithfulness.
Ability: Competence in doing.
The issuer of the warrant is saying he is: ” …placing special assured reliance on the character, ability, truth …and faith he will act rightly, proper, with effectiveness…based on the faithfulness and competence…”  of the individual receiving the warrant.
“… I do appoint…” 
Appoint: To set officially.
This is an official document informing the recipient (and all others) what is expected of their performance as outline in the rest of the warrant. Notice it goes on to say: “Effective with this appointment…” There’s that word again.
“…you are charged to carefully and diligently execute the duties and responsibilities of a CORPORAL of Marines…”
Carefully: Close attention to detail, implies attentiveness and cautiousness in avoiding mistakes. 
Young Marines often hear the phrase: “Attention to detail!”  Here the warrant is demanding the Marine remain alert and not get complacent. Mistakes will be made but leaders should still make a conscious effort to avoid them.
Diligent: Characterized by steady, earnest, and energetic effort. 
Remaining consistent and enthusiastic is a challenge for everyone. Leaders should be seen conducting themselves with consistent, genuine effort on behalf of their troops.
Let’s look at that sentence again:
“… you are charged to be attentive, avoid mistakes, and remain consistent, earnestly executing the duties and responsibilities of a CORPORAL of Marines…”
Duty: Moral or legal obligation. 
Responsibility: Moral or legal accountability. 
This may be the single biggest point where learning will occur, so pay attention. Many young Marines have a hard time grasping the difference between tasks and duties.  Tasks are things we are assigned to do: swab the deck, attack the hill, eliminate Al-Qaeda from the face of the Earth making it safer for everyone.  Duties are what we are morally or legally committed to do: risk ourselves for the safety of others, take care of our fellow Marines, show up on time, obey the orders of the President of the United States. 
As pertains to NCO leadership it would look like this: A Corporal may be a squad leader and accountable for the conduct, equipment, and safety of the Marines in his squad.  He is NOT accountable for Marines in other squads but he has an obligation toward them.  If a Marine he doesn’t know steps out of line he is obliged to take corrective action.   Likewise every Marine who is not a coward feels obliged to find his way to Afghanistan because he knows it is where other Marines are facing danger.  Right now in your home town, an old, salty, WWII jarhead is pissed the Marine Corps won’t let him strap a rifle to his wheel chair and push him out of a plane somewhere over Helmand province.  It’s just how we’re wired.
“… you are charged to be attentive, avoid mistakes, and remain consistent, earnestly executing the moral obligations and accountability of a CORPORAL of Marines…”
The warrant continues:
“…and I do strictly direct and require all personnel of lesser grade to render obedience to appropriate orders. …”
Notice at no time are personnel of lesser grade directed to render agreement or are required to like appropriate orders.  It just says they are to be obedient. Field day, physical training, weapons maintenance, and the like will continue as normal. Carry on!
“As a CORPORAL of Marines you must set the example for others to emulate.”
Emulate: Strive to equal or excel. Imitate.
NCOs in the Marine Corps have the most influence on their Marines. They set a standard others should strive to meet.  Whether they know it or not their men will act like they do. If an NCO is lazy, the Marines will be lazy. A squared away NCO will have squared away Marines. It’s an immutable law of nature.   
“Your conduct and professionalism both on and off duty shall be above reproach.”
Conduct: A mode or standard of personal behavior, based on moral principles.
I spend more time discussing conduct during liberty briefs than any other subject. Americans expect and deserve a certain standard of personal behavior out of their Marines. Look at the issues surrounding the investigation concerning Captain Honors of the USS Enterprise. The American people speak far more offensively on a daily basis. Certainly civilian society makes and watches more offensive films. The thing is Americans expect much better out of their military and even more from their Marines.
Professionalism: Qualities which characterize or mark a Marine.
If at a glance people don’t realize you are one of the World’s Finest, United States Marines then you should probably go seek other employment. By this I do not mean emblazoning your skin with eagle, globe, and anchors or buying moto t-shirts in bulk. Our bearing and comportment should mark us as a distinct cadre of professionals.
“…both on and off duty …”
It needs to be pointed out because often young Marines don’t understand this isn’t our job, it is our lifestyle. There is no “outside of work” for us. There is only being a Marine. Either you are or you aren’t. 
Reproach: Blame, discredit, disgrace. 
Marines are all of one mind when the Corps is disgraced by Marines who give away state secrets, murder pregnant women, or kill puppies. We so want to kick their ass up and down the street until people beg us to stop because there is so much gore on the tarmac. We hate discredit and failure with the heat of a nova. 
So rereading that sentence, it can be interpreted: “Your standard of personal behavior and those qualities which characterize you as a Marine both on and off duty shall be above any blame, discredit, or disgrace.”
“You are responsible for the accomplishment of your assigned mission and for the safety, professional development and well-being of the Marines in your charge.”
Safety: It is a given Marines will go in harms way, so when it comes to safety we are talking about things like pre combat checks and inspections. Did you prepare your Marines adequately for the mission? Did your drivers get eight hours of sleep before you put them on the road operating 7-ton truck? Do they really understand how dangerous drinking an entire bottle of tequila is before getting behind the wheel?
Development: Using our previous definition of professionalism, professional development is the process by which leaders cultivate those qualities which will characterize their troops as Marines.  Holy smokes NCOs! Your job is to teach young troops HOW TO BE MARINES. 
Well-being: Taking care of your Marines and looking out for their welfare does not mean releasing them on liberty early every day, getting them out of standing duty, or covering up the DUI they got this weekend.  It does mean holding them accountable. It does mean ensuring they have the skills, training, and equipment needed to achieve success. Finally, as I always say, taking care of Marines means making them do things they do not want to do. 
“You will be the embodiment of our institutional core values of honor, courage and commitment.”
Embodiment: To personify or make concrete. 
I don’t know how many times I have heard young Marines complain that all the Semper Fi stuff in the Marine Corps is BS. Sadly, there are plenty of posers masquerading as Marines who have never bought in to the whole band of brothers thing thus illustrating the point. As leaders it is our job to actually be the living breathing U.S. Marines our troops imagine.  We’re not all going to be Sgt Stryker but within our own sphere of influence we should strive to make the Marine Corps what it should be. 
Institutional: Established organization, part of our public character.
Core: Foundational, basic, essential or an enduring part.
When we say institutional core values we mean things which make up the fabric of what we are as Marines. These are honor, courage, and commitment. You will hear these three words for as long as you are in the Corps.
Think of it like this: “You will be the living example of the enduring fabric of what we are.”
“You will lead your Marines with firmness, fairness and dignity …”
Firmness: Solidly fixed. Not weak or uncertain. Vigorous. Not easily moved.
Fairness: Just, equitable, impartial, unbiased. Elimination of one’s feelings, prejudices, and desires to achieve proper balance of interests.
Dignity: The quality of being worthy, honored, or esteemed.
So that sentence actually reads: “You will lead your Marines with solid decisiveness, without bias, being worthy of the honor bestowed to you.”
“…while observing and following the orders and directions of your senior leaders and enforcing all regulations and articles governing the discipline of the Armed Forces of the United States of America.”
Discipline: Instruction. Training which corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character. Enforcing obedience and order.  Orderly or prescribed conduct.
If there are no questions, this ends your period of instruction.
Take charge and carry out the plan of the day!
America’s 1stSgt

 

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13 comments

  1. Outstanding discussion. Forwarded to my own proto-2ndLT for his continuing education. You’re America’s 1st Sgt. You get to be long-winded. 🙂 Hope everyone in Manama has a fine weekend and those who have watch, have quiet ones.

  2. Although I was only a Lance Corporal of Marines, attention to detail is still my mantra (sometimes to the chagrin of my subordinates, superiors, wife and dogs).

    As 1st Sgt, aren’t you supposed to set the example for the rest of us when it comes to downing bottles of tequila and still be functional?

  3. So is there where I put a shameless plug in for you about when you were a Platoon Sergeant and I was a PFC, that I received 2 meritorious promotions, one to Lance Corporal and one to Corporal under your tutelage? Semper Fi Sgt Maj!

    1. “By this I do not mean emblazoning your skin with eagle, globe, and anchors or buying moto t-shirts in bulk…”

      Sending this to a few friends with the recommendation EVERY lance corporal read it before they form up for that promotion ceremony.

      You write remarkably well. Glad I stumbled across your feed.

      JH

  4. I’m not a fan of the “new” promotion NCO promotion warrants. When it is read it seems like their first counseling session. If they do not know or not ready to execute the duties of a Corporal or Sergeant they should not be promoted.

    1. Here’s the issue though, who’s teaching them how to execute their duties? My point in writing this PME, if you will, is to shine a light on the fact we do promote Marines to corporal and sergeant without ever telling them what is expected of them. I’ll wager most sergeants have no idea about fitness reports until their RS tells them to write up their MROW for the first time.

      1. You got a point. I like your PME. I do recall my 1stSgt who recommended me for meritorious Cpl and when I was promoted sat me down in his office and told me his expectations and what is expected of a Cpl. It was great that I had orders elsewhere so I could use his guidance he gave me to take care of my Marines and somewhat outshine others because the Wing unit I was assigned most of them were getting promoted to Cpl with no MCIs and long as they could breath through one nostril they were good. It’s a great PME but my promotion didn’t read that way and I know yours didn’t either and we both turned pretty outstanding.

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