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Royal Marine lead candidates in physical training

17 Oct 2013 | Cpl. Natalie Coffman

The physical aspect of training at Officer Candidates School aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico is nothing short of intense. Candidates are subjected to a rigorous training regimen that demands a superior level of toughness, endurance and ability to adapt and overcome under elevated amounts of stress. Oversight of the program involves a vast number of responsibilities and rests upon the shoulders of Colour Sergeant Glyn Luke, a British Royal Marine, who serves as the physical training advisor to the commanding officer at OCS.

His qualification specialty in the Royal Marines is physical training instructor. His rank is equivalent to that of a master sergeant in the Marine Corps.  According to Luke, he was sent to MCB Quantico through a special exchange program for two years.

Luke said he came here last year because the Marine Corps does not have a military occupational specialty that focuses specifically on the science of physical fitness, so he was sent here to lend his expertise in guiding the training of Marine Corps Officer Candidates at OCS.  In exchange, the Marine Corps would send one of their own from the Martial Arts Center of Excellence to join with the Royal Marines for an equal time period and assist with their martial arts program. The program has been in effect since 1972.

“I’m primarily in charge of the physical training program here,” said Luke. “I make sure it’s tailored to the right level and the events allow us to properly evaluate candidates. We have to put them under the right amount of pressure to see how they perform. My job is to make sure the program is structured to achieve the mission, but it’s also pitched to right level.  It needs to be safe and effective, and there’s a fine balance between the two.”

Luke said he works directly for the commanding officer, briefing him often on all plans, situations and outcomes relating to the physical training program. Part of the job entails communicating with officer selection officers, who send candidates to OCS, and offer them the tools, information and mentorship they’ll need to help the candidates succeed in Quantico.

“I make them aware of some of my observations of the candidates that turn up,” said Luke. “I talk to them about areas they can make improvements in, and give them a little bit more guidance so the candidates can come here more prepared physically and mentally.”

Col. Harold R. Van Opdorp, OCS commanding officer, said he works very closely with Luke to make sure candidates are involved in activities that focus on areas of fitness important in shaping Marine Corps Officers. He also said he’s confident in Luke’s ability to lead by example and inspire candidates as they are pushed beyond they’re perceived physical limits.

“It’s his energy,” said Van Opdorp. “He has boundless energy dealing with the candidates, and a wonderful ability to motivate them, to get them to go above and beyond what they themselves thought they could accomplish.

“He’s the one out there encouraging them, doing the exercises with them. He’s not all talk.  He demonstrates and participates as much as they do. He knows how to get the body in shape to do the things we need to do as Marines.”

Luke said he’s thankful for the time he’s spent at OCS and the opportunity he’s had to work with an excellent staff. He also said he hopes to return to the British Royal Marines better for the experience he’s gained in the couple years he’ll have spent in the states teaching fitness in the Marine Corps.

“I'll be here about another year; it’s been great,” said Luke. “I think I'll go back with a better understanding of the American culture.”

Correspondent: Natalie.coffman@usmc.mil