FORT PICKETT, VA. --
U.S. Marines with Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 1st
Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), completed
a leadership reaction course (LRC) during the MEU’s Realistic Urban Training exercise
at Fort Pickett, Va., Aug. 29, 2013, as part of the MEU’s preparation for its
More than 150 Alpha Company, BLT 1/6, Marines maneuvered through
17 different obstacles, some plunging into the cold waters of defeat, others
leading their teams to success.
“The purpose of the LRC is to not only assess the
leadership skills of your Marines, but also to see where they are with
teamwork, critical thinking and making quick changes,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jose
Vasquez, company gunnery sergeant and native of New York City. “This is to
develop problem solving skills that they may need later.”
The Marines divided into 18 teams of eight, rotating
through the different LRC obstacles, each of which required critical thinking
and problem solving skills to maneuver.
“It reminds me of boot camp,” said Cpl. Kyle Fishe,
machine gun squad leader and native of Sacramento, Calif. “These complicated
puzzles really stretch the imagination.”
Each station had its own rules and objectives: red
surfaces couldn’t be touched, certain objects had to be brought across the
obstacle and a specific number of Marines had to make it across safely. The
teams also had to complete each station in less than 20 minutes.
At each puzzle, a new Marine became the team leader for
his group, formed a plan, organized his team and directed the Marines to
success or failure.
“Rotating the leadership positions really shows you the
other side of the coin while also teaching leadership itself,” said Pfc. Sam
Gannon, rifleman and native of North Kingstown, R.I.
In this way, the course let every Marine try his hand at
leading, but also allowed the company leadership to observe the potential of
“It identifies the good leaders and the ones that need
help,” said Fishe. “Overall, it’s showed me that we’ve trained them well and
that they’re more capable than I first thought, that they can think on their
The company’s noncommissioned officers (NCOs), staff NCOs
and officers served as evaluators for the different stations, but the Marines
were not judged simply on meeting the objective’s parameters at each obstacle.
They were also judged on how well they controlled the situation, organized the
Marines and adjusted their plans when necessary.
“This course really forces teamwork,” said Gannon. “Making
the plan is the hardest part. If the plan doesn’t go well, you have to adjust.
That’s the tricky part.”
“I think they’re realizing how important their NCOs’ jobs
are,” said Vasquez. “They’re seeing how hard those jobs can be.”
Of the 17 obstacles, 10 required the teams to cross pools
of water without falling in. By the end of the day, more than a dozen Marines
were drenched or drying, but most wore smiles.
“The Marines have a way of finding fun in everything,”
observed Vasquez. “With their brothers beside them, it all becomes easier. With
a positive attitude, these guys can do almost anything.”
MEU’s deployment will take it to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of
responsibility with the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group as a sea-based,
expeditionary crisis response force capable of conducting amphibious missions
across the full range of military operations.