After returning from a 30 day period of leave after our return from the 11 month deployment to Iraq, I was assigned to be the Company Training Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) as a Lance Corporal. This would be the second position I was assigned to take as a Non-NCO Marine. This transferred me from 2nd Platoon to the Headquarters Platoon for Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines. After our return from Iraq, we lost a significant portion of our company, close to 60% of our personnel either left active duty service, or transferred out to other units to further their careers in the Marine Corps.
In addition to this loss of personnel, the new senior Marines, my peers, were put together into one platoon to conduct special training with “Distributed Operations” on the mainland. So this left the company with a small number of senior Marines. Due to this, I was responsible for both managing the company training records, but also being tasked out as a Fire Team Leader with whichever platoon needed one during a period of training. So I was in a very unique position during this period.
As the Company Training NCO, I worked directly with the Company Executive Officer and the Company Gunnery Sergeant, managing the training schedule, training records, and reporting on training statistics for the company. After we received our first “drop” of new Marines, and training began, I was responsible for maintaining records for about 150 Marines in the Company. My Responsibilities included:
- Development of Microsoft Excel formats for Rosters, Training data, and Reports
- Collection of Training data from the Platoon Commanders and Platoon Sergeants regarding professional training of all personnel.
- Development of the Company Training Schedule, both in company training as well as sending Marines to various Marine Corps schools.
- Keeping all leadership appraised of the training schedules, upcoming classes, coordinating with higher command on the status of training requirements, and developing training reports.
- Working with the company Gunnery Sergeant, maintaining the supplies and logistics of the company for the conduct of weekly field training exercises and training while in garrison.
When the company went out to the field to train, I would be tasked out to whichever platoon needed a Team Leader, generally being attached to the 3rd platoon or 1st Platoon as a Fire Team leader. I was initially tasked as a Rifle Squad Leader, another billet intended for a Sergeant (E-5, two ranks above Lance Corporal), responsible for a squad of 8 Marines in the field. Once we received reinforcements from our “sister” battalion who had recently returned from Afghanistan, I was returned to the position of Fire Team Leader.
After several months of training in Hawaii, we then went to conduct larger training packages at 29 palms in California. While conducting this training, i worked with the company Gunnery Sergeant, maintaining the supplies and logistics for the company while in the field. I was a HMMWV Driver, and worked closely with the Company “Gunny” ensuring that the company had all the supplies they needed for the conduct of operations. We also went to conduct training in Bridgeport, CA. This was mountain training in preparation for our upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. I was assigned as a Fire Team Leader in the 3rd Platoon (if I remember correctly) during this training. As a Fire Team Leader, I was responsible for the following:
- Leading a team of 3 Marines under my Charge, responsible for their Training as a Fire Team in an infantry Rifle Squad.
- Managing and ensuring accountability of the equipment of the fire team, ensuring the team was supplied and ready while in the field.
- Coordinating with other units in the conduct of operations.
- Planning for field operations, conducting rehearsals and preparations for operations, and Leading the team while conducting operations.
- Following the orders of senior leadership while maintaining constant communication with higher command.
After completing about 7 months of training, we were sent home on another period of Leave prior to our deployment to Afghanistan, January of 2006. I received additional training as the Company Level Intelligence Cell (CLIC) leader. In this role I was responsible for:
- Developing Standard Operating Procedures for collecting information from units both while conducting operations and in debriefs following the completion of operations.
- Organization of the information, establishing reporting procedures for the classification of the information and maintaining a log of this information for use in developing intelligence.
- Working with Platoon Commanders and Squad Leaders in collecting this information, and ensuring a regular and consistent habit of collecting and disseminating information as it is received.
- Reporting this information to higher command intelligence units for processing.
- Receiving Intelligence reports from higher command, logging that intelligence, and disseminating it to Platoon Commanders and squad leaders for the conduct of future operations.
- Collecting information and identifying intelligence to be used for follow on operations as discovered.
In addition to this role, I was also put the a school for piloting the DragonEye Unmanned Ariel Vehicle (UAV) for conducting Ariel Reconnaissance. After completing the school, I was able to pilot a UAV in various environments, and was able to combine this skill with my CLIC skills to provide excellent information gathering and intelligence dissemination skills that would benefit the company in the future.
During this time, I also began the process of applying for acceptance into the United States Naval Academy, as I began to consider the option of becoming a commissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps.