MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
Approximately 35 enlisted Marines representing four force-level commands kicked off the 2022 Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Warfighter Development Summit here April 26-29.
Focus groups, comprised of individuals with the rank of lance corporal up to sergeant major, met at Warner Hall to discuss three major topics affecting the Marine Corps: retention, transition, and suicide. On the last day of the summit, Marines presented potential solutions to Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Troy E. Black for review.
“What I want all Marines to know is that you have a voice, representations for these summits are coming from across the Marine Corps,” Sgt. Maj. Black said. “We’ve got a myriad of individuals with experiences from across the entire Fleet Marine Force coming together to offer input into evolving the way we develop our manpower, and our people, and our Marines,” he continued.
Sgt. Maj. Black, who sponsored the annual summit, focused on creating a common ground for Marines across various ranks to discuss their findings with each other, work on actionable items, and present a way forward. Marine Corps senior enlisted leaders were directed by the commandant of the Marine Corps to provide recommendations that align with the Commandant’s Planning Guidance. The topics of suicide and mental health, career retention, and transition readiness were highlighted by the Sergeant major of the Marine Corps as areas of interest due to their significant impact on Marines’ lives, their families, and their service.
“The warfighter summits are 100 percent focused on Marines and their families,” Sgt. Maj. Black said. “There are no conversations here about weapons systems, operations, and tactics, or concept of deployments, this is all about the people.”
While the summit focused on the overarching topics of retention, transition, and suicide; discussions also included topics on health, wellness, fitness, recruiting, enlisted professional development, enlisted personal development, and the effects of these on Marine Corps readiness. Participants in the summit were encouraged to look at the entire scope of Marine’s career, from recruit training, retention of the most qualified Marines, career transitioning, and civilian life. They challenged current systems and programs to assess their value and effectiveness, while also looking for ways to improve them.
“What we’re trying to get out of this is what the Fleet Marine Force needs, how to facilitate a better conversation, provide recommendations to the decision-makers in the Marine Corps, and give them actual, validated, justifiable research and not just concepts or ideas,” Sgt. Maj. Black said.
Each command was tasked with breaking down the topics in-depth and creating a course of action to present to the sergeant major of the Marine Corps. These presentations were followed by group discussions on efficacy and plausibility. Sgt. Maj. Black spoke to the idea of brainstorming solutions without the restraint of structure, budget, or barriers. His intention was to open up the minds of the Marines, to draw all sources of inspiration and experiences, and develop solutions to problems that the corps faces daily. The summit allowed leaders, with an array of experiences and backgrounds, to provide the sergeant major of the Marine Corps with insight and ideas to improve the future of the Marine Corps. Each summit has yielded valuable changes within the Corps.
“Those who wear the uniform - that is the United States strategic advantage over our adversaries,” Sgt. Maj. Black said. “Everybody’s got a plane, a missile, a computer, but how we invest, train, and educate our service members, our Marines, in particular, that’s our strategic warfighting advantage over any adversary.”