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Newly promoted staff sergeants and staff sergeants select attend a Staff Sergeant Indoctrination Course to learn their new responsibilities as a staff noncommissioned officer on Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Sept. 22, 2016. One hundred and sixty Marines participated in the course and were able to ask higher enlisted SNCOs and officers for guidance as they continue advancing their careers. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Natalie Dillon)

Photo by Cpl. Natalie Dillon

Staff Sgt Indoctrination Course Lays the Foundation for a Stronger SNCO Corps

28 Sep 2016 | Cpl. Natalie Dillon III Marine Expeditionary Force

As Marines in the Corps grow as leaders and climb through the ranks, there comes a time when many are ready to pin on their first rocker. After Marines have done their time as a sergeant of Marines and proven to the Corps their value, they find their place among the ranks thousands of Marines who have earned the right to be called a staff noncommissioned officer.

 For freshly promoted staff sergeants and staff sergeants select, III Marine Expeditionary Force held a Staff Sergeant Indoctrination Course on Camp Hansen, Okinawa, on Sept. 21-23, 2016. Commonly referred to as the Indoc Course, the classes and mentoring sessions offered valuable knowledge and advice from more seasoned staff noncommissioned officers and officers. The course is held every year on Okinawa at varying locations.

“One of the hardest ranks to transition into is staff sergeant,” said Sgt Maj. James Monroe, the sergeant major for 3rd Intelligence Battalion, III Marine Headquarters Group, III MEF. “Transitioning from sergeant to staff sergeant can make these Marines wonder where they fit in. This class gives them the foundation they need to move forward.”

Staff sergeants and staff sergeants select are not required to attend the Indoc Course as they are required to attend Career Course.
“The Indoc course educates our new staff sergeants and soon-to-be staff sergeants of the responsibilities they are about to inherit,” said Sgt Maj. Mario Fields, the sergeant major of 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, III MEF. “Here we give them the tools to launch into their new rank with confidence. But, in Career Course, they will be given a more in depth knowledge on many more elements of being a SNCO.”

This year nearly 3,500 Marines were selected to add their first rocker to their collar. The course provided 160 of those Marines the opportunity to ask higher ranking SNCOs and officers questions that they might not be able to find the answers to in a Marine Corps order or MARADMIN.

 Five captains representing all elements of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force took the floor during the course for a Q & A session with the students, giving them the opportunity to gain officers' perspectives on the qualities and traits they are now expected to possess.

“The class is only two and a half days long,” said Sgt, Fredrick Cain, an electrical engineer with 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment. “But I probably won’t have the chance to ask a panel of officers or sergeants major opinion based questions like this again. It’s given me a chance to find out what I can expect as a staff sergeant.”
Although Marines with very different Military Occupational Specialties will have experiences that differ from SNCOs in other MOS’s, the curriculum of the course touches on the similarity between all of them; being a leader of Marines.

“The class hits points that we’ll all need to be familiar with no matter what job we have,” said Sgt. Chastise Robinson, the administration man-power chief of 3rd Marine Logistics Group, Combat Logistics Regiment 35. “Here I’ve learned that I’m not just a staff sergeant in my MOS, I’m a staff sergeant of Marines.”