View Full Version : Marine reading program revamped

02-10-05, 06:09 AM
Marine reading program revamped
Submitted by: MCB Quantico
Story Identification #: 2005299203
Story by Sgt. La Toya T. Graddy

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. (Feb. 9, 2005) -- Time after time, battle after battle, Marines have been supporting and defending our nation since Nov. 10, 1775. Leathernecks accomplish those goals by enhancing combat training, maintaining weapons and equipment, and promoting physical fitness. These practices physically prepare Marines for war. How can Marines mentally prepare themselves for war?

In the late 1980s, the 29th commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Alfred Gray, had a vision for Marines and their professional development. He established the Corps' professional reading program, designed to enhance every Marine's understanding of the art and science of war.
Gray explained the value of professional military education in a May 1989 Quantico Sentry story. "The stakes are too high, and our profession too complex, to allow the dabbler, or less than fully-committed, to pursue a commitment that will be less than rewarding to the individual and/or the Corps."

He added, "There are some who will maintain Marines are already over committed and have no time for self-study and professional reading: Those who believe that will have to reexamine their leadership priorities."

Today's global war on terrorism dictates the importance of physical and mental sharpness, according to Gen. Michael W. Hagee, current commandant of the Marine Corps. "... Warfighting excellence demands that our Marines not only maintain physical endurance and technical proficiency, but, just as importantly, they also continue to develop intellectual adaptability along with effective problem-solving skills," said Hagee.

All Marine Message 007/05, released Wednesday, announced the revision of the Marine Corps Professional Reading Program. Revising the reading program is the first step to reinvigorate a key element of Marine professional military education, according to Hagee.

The commandant also stated, "The revised professional reading program does not supplant the intent of the 29th commandant, Gen. Alfred Gray, whose initiative sought to promote the pursuit of lifelong learning. Rather, this represents the logical next step in the evolution of our program to perpetuate warfighting excellence into an increasingly uncertain future."
Keeping with the original objectives set forth in 1989, the six objectives remain unchanged and are reiterated as follows:

* To impact a sense of Marine values and traits
* To increase knowledge of our profession
* To improve analytical and reasoning skills
* To increase capacity of using printed media as a means of learning and communication
* To increase knowledge of our nation's institutions and the principles upon which our country and way of life were founded
* To increase knowledge of the world's governments, culture and geography

The revised program, based on history, will have an emphasis on warfighting and is designed to instill wisdom and judgment in military leaders.

Last November, a panel of retired and active duty service members came together to vet the Marine Corps Professional Reading Program's required reading list. Formally known as the Commandant's Reading List, it is a large component of the program.

The reading list is tied to PME and shared across the ranks. Using Gray's original list as a starting point, the small working group deleted several books that were added over the past decade. Books that were not in print or reasonably available were also removed from the list.
"There are 112 separate books on the required reading list; 45 books on the enlisted reading list and 83 books on the officer reading list," said Col. Jeffery Bearor, Training and Education Command's chief of staff. "There are 16 books shared between the enlisted and officer lists."

Having shared books offers commanders the opportunity for enlisted Marines and officers to share PME based on the reading list.

"Dialogue and discussion groups can facilitate the critical thinking skills that are necessary for the professional growth and creativity of Marines, regardless of rank or (military occupation specialty) background," said retired Maj. Gen. Donald R. Gardner, the president of Marine Corps University.

Reading books on past American wars, the three levels of war, and major battlefield functions will also give Marines the opportunity to gain knowledge and an understanding of war, which in turn will enhance their ability to make timely and sound judgments, said Bearor. He added that by understanding what was read and relating it to what was learned in training would only benefit Marines in wartime.

"Today's warfare continually demands flexibility and split second decision making skills from Marines at all levels. Thus, the professional reading program serves as a mechanism to develop the individual Marine's intellectual framework and tactical calculations," Gardner said.

According to a statement reprinted in the recently released ALMAR, Gray stated that "success in battle depends on many things, some of which we will not fully control. However, the state of preparedness of our Marines (physical, intellectual, psychological, and operational) is in our hands. The study of our profession through selected readings will assist each Marine's efforts to achieve operational competence and to better understand the nature of our "calling" as leaders of Marines."

Marine Corps University will continue to support all Marine schools' efforts in utilizing the program. Visit MCU's Web site: www.mcu.usmc.mil for more information on the Marine Professional Reading Program and updated reading list.