An Assessment of Marine Corps Culture

On November 10, 1775, at the Tunn Tavern in Philadelphia, PA, one of the most respected and admired, and not to mention feared organizations was created by the order of the Continental Congress. Although the Marines original duties were to serve aboard Navy ships in order to both protect the ship, and board enemy ships as well; today they are seen globally in our embassies, as a part of peace keeping missions, training allied soldiers, fighting terrorism, and performing community services such as the Toys for Tots campaign.

Marine Corps culture is a culture that is understood by only a few, but admired by many. Marine Corps philosophy is one that starts with leadership. As General Charles C. Krulak in his “Commandant’s Planning Guidance” in 1999 stated, “Leadership is the heart of our institutional character,” (Jones, 1999). General Krulak also went on to say that, “Leadership drives the process of making Marines Marines,” (Jones 1999). Decentralization, or the bottoms up theory of leadership, is the main focus of Marine leadership training.

The basic leadership rule is “The Rule of Three”. What this means, is that a Corporal has a three-man fire team, a squad leader has three fire teams, and a Platoon Commander and Platoon Sergeant have three squads (Freedman, 1998). This leadership structure is one that helps keep everyone’s job manageable, and gives each individual some form of decision-making authority. This leadership structure is one that has been emulated by many businesses and corporations across the United States.

Former Marine and CEO of Quaker Oats, Robert Morrison, and former Marine and Vice-Chairman of Service Master Co. , are a couple of examples of former Marines brining this leadership style into successful businesses (Freedman, 1998). There are many values and traits that that are instilled into each and every Marine. There is a set of Core Values that forms the bedrock of each Marines character. These Core Values are honor, courage, and commitment (http://usmilitary. about. com/library/milinfo/blmarinevalues. htm). Honor, includes ethical and moral behavior.

Courage is the inner strength that enables each Marine to do what is right. It is also the mental, moral, and physical strength ingrained in Marines in order to carry them through the challenges of combat. Commitment is the continuing dedication to Corps and country (http://usmilitary. about. com/library/milinfo/blmarinevalues. htm. ). There is a saying in the Marine Corps that you can make the best of any situation, or in other words, adapt and overcome. The physical workspace that Marines find themselves in can change on a daily basis.

It can be anywhere from and office, to the cockpit of a helicopter, or when times aren’t so great the battlefield. Marines are trained to adapt to any living condition. They might find themselves at home with their family one night, and walking through the jungles of Central Asia the next. In the mind of a Marine, both work and home are where they find themselves at that given moment. As a former Marine, the one phrase that is a continuous part of everyday life is “Semper Fidelis”, which is Latin for “Always Faithful” (Wills, 2004).

This is a term that most Marines live and die by. Another saying that is very prevalent is that no Marine will be left behind. A Marine leader never leaves a wounded or dead Marine on the battlefield to fall into the hands of the enemy (http://www. grunts. net/usmc/usmclore. html). Leadership by example is a very important aspect in modeling you Marine leaders. The theory behind this, is that a good leader would never order a subordinate to do something that they have not done, or would not be willing to do themselves (Wills, 2004).

The explicit rewards and status symbols that are used to motivate employees in the military, provides a unique environment that fosters and encourage qualities for a successful life. Some of these qualities include total commitment, perseverance, sense of mission, sense of self, sense of others, sense of community, and the devotion to duty. Total commitment allows a person to approach every task with the intent to a successful ending. Perseverance allows the individual to withstand difficulties to bounce back from setbacks by having the patience and self-belief.

Sense of mission is the ability to see beyond immediate challenges and to stay focused on the ultimate goal. Sense of self and of others is the ability to size up a total stranger combined with an acute degree of self-knowledge and awareness. The sense of community a person can look beyond immediate personal interests in service to a greater good. Last, the devotion to duty by making lives better through service. The development of these qualities in each and every young person in the services allows their qualities to emerge and to be honed and utilized in everyday life.

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