Across the Marine Corps, units have adjusted to meet training requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is no exception.
Marines with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations East-Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune developed an opportunity for junior Marines to meet professional military education (PME) promotion requirements through virtual learning.
U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Hubert Robertson, assistant training chief, and Sgt. Christopher Whitby, watch chief with the Provost Marshal’s Office, both with H&S Bn., collaborated on the idea for the online classroom for Marines attending the Lance Corporal’s Leadership and Ethics Seminar on May 4, 2020.
Prior to attending the online seminar, Marines must still complete the MARINENET “Leading Marines” courses.
“It is still following the same, proper steps to get into the course as it would be if you were going to the classroom course,” Robertson said. “The only difference is the classroom is online.”
Having access to the training allows Marines to complete the PME without impacting operations or interfering with their normal schedule.
“Because of this pandemic, Marines are not able to do certain things such as accessing in-person, group courses. The online course will not only help them advance in PME, but as Marines as well,” Whitby said. “As an instructor, it is super important for us to grow the Marines and grow the organization. We need to make the Marines better and more prepared.”
The online course allows the Marines to complete the seminar within four days with a fifth day added for graduation day. Marines are able to also access a digital workbook that provides the same information as the workbook in the classroom. Future courses will consist of 10 to 20 Marines with two instructors.
“It was not a surprise when I was told Sgt. Whitby was going to be an instructor for the upcoming seminar. His leadership and high level of motivation is the perfect fit for teaching this younger generation of Marines,” said 2nd Lt. Dillon Russell, a platoon commander with PMO. “Giving Marines the opportunity to continue their personal and professional education, despite this pandemic, will better them and the Corps as a whole.”
Marines enroll in the virtual seminar and access the course through Google drive by any personal electronic device using an email and password given to the Marines prior to beginning the seminar.
“Staff Sgt. Robertson’s level of energy is a huge source of inspiration for those around him. It’s no surprise to me at all that he would come up with such an efficient way of mission accomplishment,” said Col. Amy R. Ebitz, commanding officer, H&S Bn. “He is a mentor to many and developed this online course as a way to ensure that Marines would have the opportunity to complete their PME in this constrained environment. Where some see challenges, he sees opportunity.”