MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP FUJI, Japan -- What happens when an explosive ordnance disposal chief is put in charge of a command sponsored corporals course?
It becomes an explosive situation.
Combined Arms Training Center EOD chief, Master Sgt. Michael Burghardt, organized a corporals course on Camp Fuji May 21 to June 1, adhering to Marine Administrative Message 255/07 released April 17 that allows commands to include testable warfighting classes in the course curriculum.
Commands may now conduct the corporals course as is, which heavily favors drill and ceremonies, replace the drill and ceremony curriculum with war fighting, or combine the two.
For the Fuji course, Burghardt integrated both drill and ceremony with warfighting classes.
Being an expert in explosives, he opted to include IED familiarization and grenade training into his course.
“I thought I would offer realism to the classes with things I learned in Iraq,” Burghardt said. “We offered survival skills they need as NCOs to be able to implement training for their Marines. I shared first-hand experiences in leadership and combat.”
To create this sense of realism, Burghardt and his team of instructors created a simulated IED lane on the Jiggs Fitness Trail on Fuji.
As the students moved through the trail, they applied what they learned during earlier classes as they attempted to identify and avoid IEDs.
On, the second-to-last day of practical application training, the Marines visited the grenade range for live grenade training.
“Every Marine loves danger, adrenaline and the bone shaking thump of live grenades,” Burghardt said. “Holding something that can possibly kill you is one of the best confidence builders you can get.”
The new policy that shaped the Fuji course is a result of commands showing the desire to enhance training to meet current operational environments, according to the message.
“The content for this course has not been revised in nearly 10 years and was severely lacking the professional development tools for today’s war fighters,” it said.
Fuji’s course included the standard classes like sword manual, ceremony and leadership traits. However, the students felt the IED and grenade portions were the best.
“This has been one of the most motivating periods of instructions I’ve had,” said Cpl. Darlene J. Looney, a vehicle recovery operator with Camp Fuji. She also said the course will serve as a good foundation should she find herself in Iraq.
These recent changes to the corporals course seems to be a hit with both instructors and students. However, the Marine Corps University doesn’t plan to rest on its laurels.
According to the Marine Administrative Message, an entirely new corporals course is in development and is scheduled for release in 2008.