MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Troy E. Black, the 19th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, visited Marines across I Marine Expeditionary Force and School of Infantry – West at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Feb. 7-8, 2023.
During his visit, the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps visited the headquarters and training area of 1st and 5th Marine Regiments, 1st Marine Division, meeting with Marines to discuss quality of life matters and answer questions regarding force modernization associated with the Commandant of the Marine Corps’ Force Design 2030.
“Our priority as a Marine Corps is warfighting, at I, II and III MEF,” Sgt. Maj. Black said. “What supports the warfighter? Maintaining the quality of life. This includes equitable pay, income, good healthcare, and a decent place to live. All of those are fundamental to who we are as a force and those are the things that encourage people to serve, but also encourage them to stay.”
Sgt. Maj. Black spoke to the Marines about Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David H. Berger’s guidance to continue to retain and mature the force by sustaining quality Marines.
“The Marine Corps invests in a Marines’ education, training and experience, so we need new and effective ways to retain them,” Sgt. Maj. Black said. “As a service we have to understand that it’s more important to invest and keep talent than it is to find new talent.”
During his discussions with staff noncommissioned officers and NCOs, Sgt. Maj. Black challenged Marines to invest in all aspects of the warfighting concept, especially those facets that make the Corps spiritually and mentally resilient.
“If a Marine was a machine, we would treat them differently,” Sgt. Maj. Black said. “Physical human performance is of high importance to us as Marines, but what we don’t realize is it’s those other aspects that result in the great physical performance. Whether we are talking about mental health or spirituality, I’m more concerned about winning the day and keeping people in the fight, to fight tomorrow.”
He continued addressing issues regarding Marine Corps facilities while touring the 1st Marines barracks and discussed a plan for improvement of facilities moving forward.
“The Marine Corps invests in a Marines’ education, training and experience, so we need new and effective ways to retain them.” Sgt. Maj. Troy E. Black, the 19th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
“We have got to get better at investing in our barracks,” Sgt. Maj. Black said. “Some of the things I saw today in these barracks were the same things I saw in the same barracks from 2004 to 2007. We must do better. We must provide relentless attention, care and resources to our Marines so they can focus on the mission – not the state of their living conditions.”
Sgt. Maj. Black also hosted a SNCO senior enlisted panel at the Pacific Views Event Center. The panel was an opportunity for SNCOs to voice their concerns, provide feedback and ask questions to various force-level sergeants major serving at two-star commands and above, on topics concerning manpower, policy, retention, force modernization and family care.
“The biggest advantage from today’s senior leader panel was the opportunity it provided to staff noncommissioned officers from across I MEF to speak with their senior enlisted leaders about Force Design and quality of life from the fleet’s perspective and feed that into the feedback loop,” Sgt. Maj. Black said. “We know that Marines are subject to the same life stressors as all Americans in addition to the stressors that are associated with being warfighters.”
After his trip to Camp Pendleton, Sgt. Maj. Black will continue visiting installations throughout the Marine Corps, speaking to Marines throughout the Fleet Marine Force, listening to their feedback and concerns, and answering any questions they may have regarding the posture of the Marine Corps.
“It’s imperative we understand that Marines have chosen to volunteer their service for this nation, and we’re obliged to provide them with the most basic needs for a fulfilling career,” he continued. “Service is no longer ‘a given’ in our society, and this issue rests on the shoulders of us, senior leaders. Therefore, we need to make bigger strides in valuing our people. We must provide the adequate medical care to our Marines and families. We must provide child care and look out for the children of our Marines. Our single Marines need to live in habitable, functioning and healthy barracks. We must pay our enlisted Marines wages that moves them far away from qualifying for food stamps – wages that will motivate them to strive for a prosperous career in the Marine Corps. All of these issues can lead to a lack of understanding of one’s worth, something associated with poor spiritual, social or mental fitness. A focus on the human capital is central to the Marine Corps’ success.”