State of the SFMC – October 2019
I hate to say it, but this isn’t going to be one of those motivational addresses. There are a lot of things going in the Corps that’s not really being talked about directly and to me that’s not communication. I prescribed to a creed many years ago to communicate consistently and never leave those in my charge uninformed. In that, Let’s talk about the academy first…
I’ve seen a lot of complaints on social media about course directors not sending out requested exams or returning graded results in a timely manner.
Heck, I’ve personally fielded dozens of complaints during my tenure with the Corps. I’m here to tell you that the problem isn’t going to get much better, in fact it’s probably going to get worse. Let me explain…
Your future pain is going to be due to the academy’s move to the Moodle platform. All academy courses are under a heavy review and revision, not only directed by me and our previous Commandant but as a requirement for the move to SFA – certain standards must be met. Couple this with the directors’ real life responsibilities – jobs, families – and you’re going to see response timelines getting longer. This doesn’t mean to not request courses from the academy, please do. We just ask for patience and in those special cases where the wait has been lengthy utilize your chain of command and we’ll get the situation rectified.
And remember, until the move is complete the academy is located at https://sfmca.sfi.org.
Here’s the silver lining in all this. Once the move to Moodle is complete members will be able to log onto their academy account, apply for courses and directly download the exam and any references you may need. This will eliminate half of the timeline problem. Of course, once the exam is complete and you’ll need to email it to the director for grading but we’re hoping that in the future a good portion of our courses will be made available under the fully automated course system. This means just like other courses in SFA, Marines will be able to take exams online and instantly receive results – eliminating both halves of the problem.
The Marines at TRACOM are working hard to improve our academy for the membership and, again, ask for your patience. There will be issues once the transition is complete, hiccups, unforeseen problem, the director learning curve as they learn the Moodle system. You can assist in smoothing over these rough spots by keeping your chain of command informed.
Other issues in the Corps…
This hasn’t been publicly discussed yet and needs to be – Commandant’s Campaign and Reading Challenge awards from earlier this year weren’t awarded due to the shake up in the Corps HQ. I take full responsibility for this not just as Commandant but as the former CO Forces Command. When I stepped down as CO Forces Command I did so with very little hand-over to MGN Tom Guertin, who was the deputy at the time. We did a change of command on the fly with Tom asking questions and me answering. Added to this were rapid fire directives from STARFLEET, LGN James’s resignation due to health issues, GEN Rickard taking over, the STARFLEET election taking place… the awards kept being pushed further and further to the right.
To fix this I am directing Forces Command to continue to crunch the Reading Challenge numbers from 2018 and roll them into the numbers for the 2019 awards, to be given out at IC2020. And, for the Commandant’s Campaign qualifying hours for 2018 to be tallied and the awards ready to be awarded in March of 2020, at the same time as the CCA 2019 awards. This isn’t the perfect answer but a balance between the tasks the Forces Command still needs to accomplish before the end of the year and doing the right thing, which is recognizing Marines for their dedication and work.
Another issue facing the Corps are the rumors going around concerning the perceived systematic and intentional dismantling of the Corps by STARFLEET or rolling the SFMC into MACO. I can tell you with certainty neither rumor is valid or true. Let’s discuss each…
Dismantling of the Corps – Yes, changes have been directed that called for the elimination of the SFMC Finance Command. Here’s the skinny. Finance Command never directly handled the Corps budget or account. GEN Linda Olson, the STARFLEET CFO, who also serves as the SFMC Quartermaster, has been watching over our funds for several years. Finance Command worked with GEN Olson when it came time for reports to be delivered to the General Staff. Since the CFO STARFLEET was already charged with watching over our account, FINCOM was deemed redundant and unnecessary.
I’ve already addressed the benefits of the academy moving under the SFA but not what the remainder of TRACOM would be doing. While the COTRACOM would serve as the dean for the academy and have dual reporting responsibilities the command will not be stripped from the SFMC General Staff. TRACOM has other responsibilities to the Corps such as developing doctrine, equipment and manuals for role playing – functions not necessarily inherent to STARFLEET.
Think of the academy’s move this way. The US Department of Defense decides to move all the military academies under one central education system. The Naval Academy wouldn’t suddenly fall under the command of the DoD Education Director…
Folding into the MACOs – Best rumor yet and very untrue. MGN Allen of the MACOs and I have an excellent working relationship but we in no way want the two groups to become one. The SFMC worked with the MACOs to develop the new rank insignia since the MACOs have no monies and couldn’t afford to produce their own. This is why you see the commonality between the two rank structures.
We’ve also worked on sharing a few of our ribbons with the MACOs for the very same reason. We’re also talking about sharing academy courses in the development of Operators and Marines, looking at how we can develop joint staffs, conduct annual messes together to promote esprit de corps, develop role play scenarios involving both groups… But, in no way is there a plan to combine the SFMC and MACO into one group, period. We’re both military science fiction based so why not work together!
Lastly a heads up!! As some of you know STARFLEET will be moving over to a new database in the coming months. I know the team at CompOps have been putting in a tremendous amount of work to ensure minimal disruption takes place as the database comes online. But I urge every Marine to be proactive, and protective, when it comes to your individual service record.
Go to the database today and download a copy of your service record! It will be next to impossible to recover your record once the old database is shuttered and Medusa takes over. You could lose all your courses taken, your awards – an ounce of prevention now will save you a bunch of pain later. Leaders, I expect you to make this happen!! Talk to your Marines!
I know I’ve probably created more questions than answers so as always – ask! Utilize your chain of command starting at the unit level and on up to brigade. Force the chain to work for you, get you the information you need!
Until next time!
BRIAN K. ALLEN
*’Old School Solutions to Modern World Problems’*