In addition to my “garrison” duty as the company Training Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO), I was assigned when in the field to any of the 3 rifle platoons in the company as a Fire Team Leader. The Fire Team Leader is the first position of Leadership that any junior Marine is placed in should he be deserving of the position. This position is billeted for a Corporal (E-4, first NCO rank), but it is usually filled by a Lance Corporal due to the low number of necessary personnel of the appropriate rank in most Marine Corps Units.
The position of Fire Team Leader is comparable to a Line Supervisor role, or a Line Level Manager or perhaps a “technical” Manager depending on the field. You are given the following duties and responsibilities as a Fire Team Leader:
- Responsible for the Leadership, Management, and mentorship of a team of 3 junior enlisted personnel placed under your charge.
- Responsible for training your team in the Military Occupational Specialty of 0311 Rifleman with the addition of real world experience in that role.
- Developing Standard Operating Procedures at a Fire Team level, developing Tactical Planning for the conduct of daily operations.
- Responsible for the general administration of your team, ensuring accountability of all equipment and supplies, and working with your Rifle Squad Leader in maintaining supplies.
- Management of personnel in the appraisal of their individual performance, performance as a member of the team, and reporting on the general conduct of your personnel to your Rifle Squad leader.
- Responsible for advancing the professional training of the Marines under your charge through giving periods of instruction, ensuring their completion of assigned Marine Corps Institute long distance education courses, and regular training in their profession.
During the multiple field operations that we conducted (3 days a week over about 4 months), I learned a great deal in my first position of leadership. I was placed in multiple scenarios where I was required to make quick decisions, utilizing my judgement to take action, and leading my Marines through difficult situations. While a Fire Team Leader, I gained experience in a variety of Professional skills including:
- Decision making
- Time Management
- Personnel management
- Conflict resolution
- Tactical level planning
- Delegation of duties and assignment of various tasks for completion of assigned objectives
- Organizational skills
- Unit Coordination
- Supplies Management for equipment and supplies totaling between $200,000 and $500,000 or more when assigned vehicles as a part of our operations.
In addition to these Professional skills, I gained experience in a variety of personal skills, including the following:
- Organization skills
- Handling Conflict
- Working in a high stress environment
- Building a Team and working with various units
- Initiative and Tact
- Strong Communication skills
- Planning skills
- Dedication to my men
This assignment was not the only duty I was given during this time period as well. Around the middle of the training build up for our deployment, I was also assigned as the Company Level Information Collector (or Company Level Intelligence Cell) CLIC.