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Corporal School implements new training

By Cpl. K. A. Thompson | | May 6, 2005

Fifteen Corporals and their instructors headed for the tree line and a chapter in Professional Military Education history during a field training exercise aboard the Air Station, May 6.

Corporal School Class 4-05 was not the first group of Marine non-commissioned officers to enter the Field Training Phase of the 22-day course. However, they were the trial class for a new training plan involving the use of paintball guns, and the opportunity to get some training in a simulated combat environment.

The Air Station Corporal School is a four-week course dedicated to the professional development of the Marine NCO, according to Gunnery Sgt. Thurman R. Lofton, Corporal School chief instructor Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.

Training consists primarily of drill, physical training, classroom instruction and Battle Skills Test knowledge. But, given the current increase in operational tempo, a bigger emphasis is being placed on field training.

“Every Marine is a basic rifleman regardless of (their Military Occupational Specialty),” Lofton said. “And with the operation tempo being high for Iraq we try our best to assist commanders of deploying units by training their NCOs, as well as completing as much ground side training as possible.”

The usual Field Training Phase in Corporals School consists of day and night navigation, patrolling and rear area security. A group of instructors came up with the idea to implement paint ball guns for defensive and offensive tactics, and to bring some realism into the students’ training, according to Lofton.

“We plan on making this permanent,” Lofton said. “We hope that other units in the Marine Corps will use this idea, because it reinforces the training of basic infantry tactics that have saved so many Marine’s lives. I am hoping that Marines will take this training and be able to lead other Marines successfully into combat.”

Introducing paint ball into field training accomplishes the mission and helps Marines take the training seriously, according to Lofton.

“The instructors prepared us really well,” said Cpl. Phillip J. Stith, aviation operations specialist, Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 332. “This is the best practical application I’ve ever had. This is the first time I’ve seen paintball used for PME. They should use this Marine Corps-wide for every MOS. If I ever see combat I know I’ll keep it with me.”