News: Leadership gathers for problem prevention, issue discussions
Story by Lance Cpl. Erica Kirsop
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. – Approximately 75 senior enlisted advisers from 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing gathered for a Sergeants Major Symposium aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., March 21 and 22.
Sergeants major, master gunnery sergeants, first sergeants and master sergeants from the West Coast came together to discuss pertinent issues facing the Marine Corps including budget cuts, money appropriation and proactive drug prevention and detection.
While this symposium was the first wing-level sergeants major meeting, it is slated to become a semiannual event. These meetings will work in tandem with semiannual commander’s conferences.
This forum allows senior enlisted personnel to come together and hash out issues junior Marines and the Marine Corps in general are currently facing, explained Sgt. Maj. Anthony A. Spadaro, the 3rd MAW sergeant major.
Day one of the two-day conference focused on group and squadron level briefs, while day two consisted of subject matter experts teaching new ways senior leadership can remain vigilant and proactive in the prevention of financial and criminal problems.
“My goal is to make the leadership see that the budget is shrinking, and what they can do within that [constraint],” said Col. Richard W. Pauly, the 3rd MAW comptroller, a military term meaning financial adviser. “We as a Marine Corps need to be able to do more with less, as well as know what we can and cannot do with spending.”
Topics applicable to every rank and new interaction techniques between these generations of Marines were also discussed.
One example of this was drug detection and prevention. Experts from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the base Criminal Investigations Division gave briefs concerning the illegal use of substances. The briefs involved how to recognize behaviors that may be symptoms of several illegal and fatal drugs, which can cause severe brain damage, as well as what to do in the case of discovery.
“I think there is a generation gap between this forum, the people that lead and the people that are often affected by these problems,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Jeffery B. Wilson, the communications chief with Marine Wing Communications Squadron 38. “It is important to hear from people that can bridge that gap. By discussing this, we can update our policies and ways we communicate with those [privates first class] and lance corporals who we don’t necessarily talk to everyday.”
Mental health and the stigmas attached to it, legal procedures and practices and open forum question and answer periods where new topics and concerns individuals have confronted were also discussed over the two-day brief.
“It is a big air wing spread out all over southern California,” said Sgt. Maj. James L. Johnson Jr., the Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 3 sergeant major. “Any opportunity to discuss and get information or practices we can take back and apply across the wing is extremely important. That mentorship and leadership working together is just really good practice.”