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Military leaders unite at 2008 Sergeants Major Symposium

By Lance Cpl. Bryan G. Carfrey | | August 19, 2008

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The United States Marine Corps, steeped in history and tradition, stands for honor, courage and commitment. The Corps’ senior enlisted recently tackled issues to further that commitment and improve the future of today’s Marines.

Sergeants major, master gunnery sergeants and, for the first time, command master chief petty officers attended the 2008 Sergeants Major Symposium from July 28 to Aug. 1, at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel to address quality of life, warfighting, leadership roles, recruiting, retention and safety issues.

“The topics were poignant to discussion,” said Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Cummings, Marine Forces Reserve. “It was a very productive week for us.” 

Cummings also said the meetings required a great deal of organization since the symposium touched on 95 subjects.  

“We divide the issues down into groups and things we feel need to be changed, then we compile everything we feel necessary and relay it to the commandant of the Marine Corps,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Paul Hancock, amphibious vehicle test branch, new equipment training team staff noncommissioned officer in charge at Camp Pendleton, Calif.   

With all of the information discussed at the symposium, Hancock said the goal is to trim everything down to the bare essentials.

“They’re all very important subjects, all are worth a lot of discussion,” said Sgt. Maj. Neil O’Connell, I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward). “It’s a perfect chance to represent (Multi National Force-West) and bring up issues then bring that information back to my Marines in Iraq.” 

O’Connell also said the event provides a platform for senior enlisted service members to get together and share their ideas and concerns.

“There are hundreds and hundreds years of experience (at the symposium) to help shape the Corps and its warfighting ability,” O’Connell said. 

A handful of controversial subjects discussed at the symposium were later reviewed by the commandant of the Marine Corps.   

According to Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Carlton Kent, the subjects passed to the CMC for review included enforcement of fitness report submission timelines, warrant officer selection boards, unaccompanied overseas tours, amphibious doctrine and identification tags.
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