USS MAKIN ISLAND, At Sea - Two Sailors assigned to USS Makin Island (LHD 8) were given the unique opportunity to participate in a Marine Corps leadership development course taught by the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), Jan. 2-18.
Aviation Structural Mechanic 3rd Class Matthew Alexander, assigned to Makin Island's Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department, and Logistics Specialist 3rd Class Joshua Slenker, assigned to Makin Island's Supply Department, took part in the Marine Corps "Corporals Course."
The idea for Sailors to participate in the Corporals Course came from the 11th MEU's senior enlisted leadership. An invitation was issued to Makin Island Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Steve Alt for two Sailors to attend the course.
"This was an outstanding opportunity for our Sailors," said Alt. "Exposure through a leadership course of another service is unique and will be extremely beneficial to their growth as a leader."
Alt said the Sailors were able to participate side by side with the Marines, gaining experience to their culture and way of doing things.
"The opportunity to exchange ideas, sharing experiences while enhancing their development and leadership skills alongside their Marine Corps shipmates, is an outstanding tool they will add to their leadership tool box," added Alt.
The course emphasizes techniques a Marine corporal can use to become a more effective non-commissioned officer, and as a leader of subordinates. Course curriculum includes a daily physical training and combat conditioning regimen, as well as team-building exercises, which emphasize unity.
"I think the traditions that we were learning about the Marine Corps brings out more camaraderie than I've seen throughout the Navy," said Alexander. "Their ways of celebration and having fun goes hand-in-hand with the discipline that comes out of these Marines, and I think that's a great attribute to have, especially in the work environment."
Although the training materials and exercises are directed specifically toward Marines, the leadership principles can be applied in the Navy as well.
"In this course I've learned everything from navigation and war fighting, to the sword manual and guide-on handling," said Alexander. "We've covered a lot of Marine Corps traditions, which I feel is paramount to shaping a Marine, but it is great knowledge for any junior leader to have."
Alexander also said that by applying what students learn in the course, a Sailor can become more disciplined and precise in their own leadership style.
"Being a Sailor, I can take this back and instill what I learned into my workcenter," said Alexander.
Part of the course was very familiar to both Alexander and Slenker as it was based on the core values shared by both the Navy and Marine Corps - Honor, Courage and Commitment.
"The Corporal's Course is all about honor, courage and commitment," said Cpl. Deven Starnes from the 11th MEU, who also attend the course. "Honor means you honor your rank and the Marines around you. Courage is to be able to stand up and actually lead the Marines or Sailors; and commitment would be you're committed to your rank and your Marines."
According to Starnes, another valuable part of the course is public speaking. As part of the curriculum, students must individually present a topic to the class.
"Some Marines and Sailors are timid in front of an audience, they don't know what to talk about or they're nervous," said Starnes. "But you stand up and confidently present a class on something you know, that's leading; and your subordinates will feel confident in you and they're going to follow you."
More Sailors are expected to be invited by the 11th MEU to attend future Corporals Courses scheduled during the current deployment.
Makin Island is the flagship of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.