CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti -- Marine Cpl. John D. Humble was recognized as the class honor graduate during a commencement ceremony March 17 marking the completion of Corporal’s Leadership Course 1-04, the first class conducted here by personnel fighting the Global War on Terrorism.
The class was sponsored by U.S. Marine Forces Central Command-Djibouti and was open to Marine corporals and lance corporals with at least eight months at their current rank assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and MARCENT – Djibouti.
Humble said he was grateful being acknowledged as the honor graduate, but could not take the honor himself.
“It’s not really my honor, but my command’s honor and the instructors who taught me,” Humble said. “Without them I could not have done it on my own.”
Humble said the course, which consisted of 17 training days, was challenging, but mostly it reinforced knowledge he gained previously.
“I learned more attention to detail,” the Huntington, W. Va., native said. “There was more emphasis on counseling, which is important because Marines always need to know how well they are doing, and often when they do a good job it gets overlooked.”
The intelligence analyst — who specializes in Sudan — said when he returns to his home base at Camp Lejeune, N.C., he will be sure to commend his Marines when they excel.
Gunnery Sgt. Stephanie A. Servis, the course’s staff noncommissioned officer in charge, said the course was taught in accordance with the Marine Corps University’s course curriculum. However, unlike the course taught stateside where the students focus solely on becoming better leaders, the students here were required to attend the class in the mornings and evenings and work a full day in between, Servis added.
“They’re still for the most part doing their job and attending corporal’s course,” Servis said. “They’re going above and beyond the normal student who is just focusing on corporal’s course. You have to admire them for that.”
Servis, a Flagstaff, Ariz., native said along with the pressures of focusing on their daily jobs and learning to become better leaders she expects a lot from the students.
“I want them to perform for their staff NCOs and for the Marine Corps,” said Servis, who also serves as the legal chief for the CJTF-HOA staff judge advocate’s office. “I want the corporals to be the first to leading their troops how the Marine Corps expects them to perform.”
The course taught the students based on three main areas of study. The students learned basic military studies, leadership and battle studies.
The military studies portion included proficiency and conduct marks, how to analyze leave and earning statements, how to conduct a hip-pocket class, sword manual and close order drill, customs, courtesies and Marine Corps history.
Servis said the students received the entire package of what it is like to be a leader. They developed counseling skills, leadership concepts, principles, traits and styles.
They were also introduced to battle studies – a course Servis said is often viewed as more of an upper-level class. The students participated in tactical decision games, discussed the physical and human dimensions of war, learned troop leading steps and learned about urban warfare, which she said is very important right now because the military faces more of a threat in urban environments than in other conventional settings.
Marine Cpl. Olay Theangthongsy, who was promoted to his current rank on the first day of the course, said as a new corporal he realized there was a lot of responsibility that came with the rank, but he is learning to adjust to it.
“The course is teaching me not only to be a better Marine but, also a better person,” the Nashville, Tenn., native said.
Servis said all of the students come to class with a positive attitude, and that is something that helps out in many areas.
“They aren’t negative about learning how to be a better Marine or how to be a better NCO, so I think they’re all doing good,” she said.
The course’s staff NCOIC said the students are all doing a good job grasping the knowledge despite it being a fast-paced course. She said having class in the mornings and the evenings seemed to make the students tired, but they still made time to study during the day.
“It takes a lot of discipline on their behalf. A lot of them are practicing drill for the first time, but they’re practicing on their own and making the best of it even though they are worn out,” said Servis.
One thing the students said helped them during the course was building camaraderie.
“The class has really come together. I met a lot of new people – many of them I would not have met if it weren’t for the course,” said Thaengthongsy, legal clerk for the MARCENT, Djibouti staff judge advocate’s office.
During the course, Servis said the instructors encouraged the students to think outside the box. She said instead of formation runs or always running the students to death, a different faculty advisor led each physical training session to introduce the students to something new they can take home.
“We want them to take something back to their unit other than running and doing the norm, but something that is also very good physical training,” Servis said.
The first course was only open to Marines, but Servis plans on offering the next class to all the services aboard Camp Lemonier. Corporal’s Leadership Course 2-04 is scheduled to begin in early May.
The class honor graduate said his advice to other Marines who want to succeed in the next course is to complete their 8000 series of the Marine Corps Institute’s non-residence course, practice drill before the class and make time for extra studying during the course.
For more information and stories about CJTF-HOA and MARCENT-Djibouti, visit the HOA web site at www.cjtf.hoa.centcom.mil.