News: Platoon Sergeant's Infantry Experience Refined through Officer Education
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Some believe that behind every good platoon commander stands a good platoon sergeant.
According to that credo, the School of Infantry's Advanced Infantry Training Company is marrying staff noncommissioned officer experience with officer with officer education to create the best leaders possible and ensure that every commander has a strong enlisted advisor to lean on.
This marriage of experience and education takes place at AIT's Infantry Platoon Sergeant Course on Camp Pendleton, Calif, said Gunnery Sgt. Tracy D. Offutt, chief-instructor - and the rewards are seen every day in the infantry community, instructors say.
"The principle of the course is to take an infantry SNCO and get him on the same playing field as an infantry officer who has gone through infantry officer training," Offutt said. "We are marrying the years of SNCO experience to the education level of an officer."
The 39-day course is designed for those infantry sergeants, staff sergeants and gunnery sergeants who desire formal education to better themselves and, more importantly, their subordinate Marines.
Focusing on every aspect and asset in the infantry community, the course teaches students everything an infantry platoon sergeant needs to know, Offutt said.
Every infantry entity is covered in the course - from mortars to machine guns.
During the brief to students after a field exercise, Offutt explained the importance of individual actions and responsibilities.
"Sure, it's easy to walk around your platoon's hasty 360 and yell at your Marines for being undisciplined out in the field. But after we succored our patrol base camp what did I see? Helmets resting on the rear sight of your weapons when you should have been sighting-in - just what you yell at your lance corporals for," he told them.
The course largely focuses on leadership by example.
"We can't tell our Marines to do anything we wouldn't first do ourselves," he said.
Offutt is troubled because some fleet leadership, he says, will not send their platoon sergeants and squad leaders to the course because they don't want to lose key players in their units.
They're setting up their Marines for failure, he says.
"It's an investment in the battalion and the individual Marine," he said. "Now you can draw on him and his skills will be expanded."
"The dividends will pay back tenfold," said Gunnery Sgt. Lanny R. Lehman, class commander for this cycle.
Because Marines from all over the infantry community can take the course, everyone brings his own "dish" of experience to the "table of knowledge."
"With everyone in the class there is more than 300 years of experience," Lehman said. "We all feed off each other."
"Because of the shared experience, everyone comes and drinks from the same fountain," said Staff Sgt. Brett A. Turek, instructor.
Instructors emphasize reality.
"Try to make your training as realistic as possible," Offutt said to the class.
"The imminence of war is real," said Gunnery Sgt. Mark A. Woodward, instructor. "You need to train today because you may not be here tomorrow."
Date Posted:07.17.2012 18:42
Location:CAMP PENDLETON, CA, US
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