Knowledge is power: What every Marine should know about U.S. Marine Reading Program

7 Jun 2002 | Staff Sgt. Nikki Clingerman

The U.S. Marine Reading Program, previously referred to as the "Commandant's Reading List," is another means provided to help Marines excel, enhance leadership and enrich them with knowledge.Commandant of the Marine Corps, General J. L. Jones, established the new name of the program in an effort to, "create a sense of personal ownership of our reading program by each Marine," according to a statement printed in All Marine Message 026/00.In addition to the renaming of the program, the Commandant also refers to it as, "Strength of the Pack-Strength of the Wolf." His goal being that of linking the past to the future by reading and discussing books on Marine Corps heritage, strategy, doctrine, training and tactics, amongst peers, leaders and troops. The self-paced program is designed to allow for Marines to read and discuss as teachers and scholars. Marines are encouraged to make time for reading, as they would other training, according to the order. It states, "It is not enough though to read alone, we must read and discuss."The books are selected and maintained by the Marine Reading Board at the Marine Corps University. Marines of any rank, however, have the ability to make an impact on the list and are encouraged to read and send in their review of the book to MCU.Within the pages of many of the selected books, Marines are able to evaluate the values of honor, courage and commitment and how predecessors applied values such as these to help them through battles and strategic planning of events from the past."It requires a Marine to evaluate a situation and to draw the negative and positive aspects of a situation," said Gunnery Sgt. John A. Jerome, Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 533's maintenance control chief. "It also helps to provide Marines with decision making abilities."Books such as Blackhawk Down, by Mark Bowden; BattleCry, by Leon Uris; and My American Journey, by Colin Powell, are just of few of the of the 186 books currently on the list. Complete information on the program can be found on the web by logging on to On the website, Marines can find a list of the Commandant's favorites as well as link to Marine Corps University where Marines can nominate new books to be added to the list. The program however, is not all about reading and writing, it is a tool that leaders can use to learn more about their Marines and set them up for success.According to the order, reporting seniors are encouraged to use fitness report counseling as an opportunity to discuss reading and to give appropriate credit to Marines in the intellect and wisdom justification section.Knowledge is one of the Marine Corps' leadership traits and is defined as the understanding of a science or an art. A range in which one's information, including professional knowledge and understanding of thier Marines, is used as a leadership tool.As stated by General Jones in the ALMAR, "I encourage all Marines to continue their search of knowledge. Actively use your time in service to prepare yourselves not only for your next battle, but also for the rest of your lives."