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Yuma holds new combat-focused Corporal's Course

By Cpl. Laura A. Mapes | | October 29, 2009

The first Corporal’s Course at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Ariz., that uses the revised curriculum mandated throughout the Corps graduated Oct. 23, 2009.

The Marine Corps’ Training and Education Command released new materials for command-sponsored Corporal’s Courses June 22, 2009, steering the professional military education course away from its emphasis on Marine Corps traditions, customs and courtesies and more toward combat leadership.

“The difference between the old course and this one is that now we have a direction – set by the Marine Corps – to move in. It’s a set standard, and every corporal at every base is getting the same training,” said Staff Sgt. Kevin Little, course staff noncommissioned officer in charge.

The course consisted of two comprehensive exams, a history essay, hip pocket training, after action review preparation, sword manual, guidon drill, weapons handling and tactical communication.
In order to pass, the approximately 35 students had to master at least seven out of the nine events in the new curriculum.

The last week of the course is dedicated to combat operations, including a final field exercise.

The exercise allowed the corporals to patrol through a mock Middle Eastern village using the small unit combat leadership skills they learned throughout the course. Station Search and Rescue also supported the final exercise, providing simulated medical air evacuation.

The new curriculum judged the corporals on a pass or fail approach instead of by their grade point average. Because of the new approach, the honor graduate was chosen by the instructors, based on input from the students.

In the past, command-sponsored Corporal’s Courses were formed by the instructors with few guidelines set by TECOM, said Little. TECOM provided the course material, but each individual command designed their course.

“It doesn’t matter whether the student is an administration clerk or a crash/fire/rescue Marine,” said Little. “Each one of these students is a corporal and a rifleman.”

While this course went well, there may be a few changes to the next class, said Little.

According to Marine Administrative Message 0375/09, which details the changes made to the course, commanders may add content, as long as the mandatory requirements are retained.

“This class was lacking some (physical training), so we are going to go back to PT five days a week next class, and we will try to incorporate more close order drill as well,” said Little.

The new course was not only a big hit with the instructors, but the students as well.

“Corporal’s Course was awesome,” said Cpl. Yao Lee, a station administration clerk. “Less drill, more kill. Drill is good for discipline, but we’re not going to take it into combat with us.”

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