MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Out of approximately 178,000 active-duty Marines, 83 percent of them are sergeants and below. This statistic demonstrates the importance the Marine Corps places on small unit leadership.
In order to discuss that vital subject in depth with Marines, Gen. James Amos, the commandant of the Marine Corps, visited Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune with Sgt. Maj. Micheal Barrett, sergeant major of the Marine Corps, Sept. 17, 2013.
The audience was exclusively comprised of corporals and sergeants with 2nd Marine Division. During the meeting, Amos and Barrett stressed some of the reasons small unit leadership needs to occur on a daily basis.
“We need you to help us get back to fundamental, well-disciplined leadership,” said Amos, speaking to the room of non-commissioned officers. “I’m talking about fundamentals, principles and standards in your leadership. If you see something wrong, correct it.”
Amos referenced the issue the Corps is having with sexual assaults as an example of something to look out for and stop before it happens.
“I don’t worry one second about what’s happening in Afghanistan,” Amos said. “That doesn’t mean I don’t care, but that I’m so confident in our training. I don’t worry about a corporal leading a patrol. But when we come back, we forget about the junior Marines.”
Barrett reiterated that statement.
“I’ve never seen a Marine fail in combat,” he said. “Where we sometimes fall short is in the garrison environment.”
The NCOs in attendance were also reminded of why they joined. Amos pointed out most of the Marines there were probably in 5th or 6th grade when the 9/11 attacks took place, and that everyone in the military volunteered to join and fight.
“There was no draft or military service requirement,” Amos said. “You all saw the attacks on our nation and wanted to be a part of the fight.”
He said the fight in garrison is just as important as the fight overseas.
Budget cuts were also discussed in the meeting with the commandant. He described in detail how much the Marine Corps has to spend and how we have to make due with less money.
“I don’t like (the budget cuts),” Amos said. “But it wasn’t up to me. However, we are going to adapt and overcome as we always do. That’s what makes us Marines.”
Before wrapping up the visit, Amos challenged the NCOs of 2nd Marine Division to read “Leading Marines,” a publication on the importance of leadership, and “Sustaining the Transformation” by the week after next.
“I know we can handle ourselves while we’re deployed,” Amos said. “But we need to get back to handling ourselves when we are back in the rear.”