FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — “Ladies and gentlemen, can you hear me?”
More than three dozen men and women respond to Maj. Stuart Fugler’s question with a loud “Oorah!” But these people aren’t Marines — they’re educators, coaches and program directors from colleges and universities.
The Marine Corps Recruiting Command conducted their Educators and Key Leaders Workshop at Marine Corps Base Quantico from July 7–11, providing representatives a firsthand look at career opportunities in the Marine Corps.
Throughout the week, participants learned a portion of the knowledge and skills that all officer candidates — who are typically between the ages of 18 and 24 — learn during more than six months of training.
The educators then took that knowledge into the field at The Basic School at Quantico. They put on gear and split into small groups for a practical infantry “operation” as enlisted staffers “attacked” with blanks from rifles and fake artillery rounds.
As the educators waited their turn, officers tested their mettle by presenting them with a series of complex scenarios they had to address.
The scenarios, based on real situations, didn’t have clear right or wrong answers. Capt. Nick Mannweiler, an instructor and public affairs officer at The Basic School, said the decisions officers make are rarely black-and-white in nature.
“You have to think and operate faster than the enemy,” Mannweiler said.
Fugler, the recruiting command’s national director of public affairs, said that the weeklong event was aimed at clearing up misunderstandings or misinformation about the Marine Corps.
“Ultimately, it’s about building an understanding and establishing credibility and trust with this group of people,” Fugler said.
Cindy Irby, assistant director of international programs at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, said the workshop taught her about the Marine Corps’ mission — and about herself.
“It wasn’t always about accomplishing our mission, but about how we led ourselves through the obstacles,” she said.
Officer selection officers from recruiting commands select who attends the workshop, which is offered twice annually—once for areas west of the Mississippi River, once for regions to the east. Capt. Ian Merry, the OSO for Northern Virginia, parts of D.C. and Maryland, said commands typically have no trouble finding people to attend.
“A lot of our relationships with educators are built throughout the year,” he said. “People are always asking me to go, but I can only send one.”
Fugler said the program helps the recruiting command “keep the lifeblood of the Marines going” by opening up another line of communication with students through mutually beneficial relationships with their educators.
Capt. Chris Parks, an instructor at The Basic School, talked to the educators about various aspects of life the students face and potential dilemmas or deal-breakers for them. These include things like being ranked last in a class by peers and instructors, spiritual restrictions and struggling with the school’s deliberate lack of instant gratification or rewards.
Ultimately, Parks said, it comes down to students deciding to be part of something bigger than themselves.
“They all joined the Marine Corps,” Parks said. “The Marines didn’t join them.”
George Rice III, assistant director of the Multicultural Student Services Center at George Washington University in Washington, said the workshop allowed him to “resharpen and refocus” for the upcoming academic year.
Though Rice felt knowledgeable about the Marines and their mission, he learned more about how they use opportunities to learn.
“I’ve always respected what the military has done,” Rice said. “After this, it’s even more apparent the sacrifices that they make at any given time for people they don’t even know — like me.”