The Career School Seminar Program (CSSP) curriculum is derived from and parallel to the resident Career Course curriculum and the goals are identical—to prepare Marine SNCOs to:
Effective communicators express themselves in a clear and well-reasoned manner that is the product of rigorous and disciplined thought. The quality of communication is dependent upon the quality of the communicator's thought; consequently, the CSSP will approach reading, writing, and speaking assignments as functional applications of critical thinking: self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrected thinking. During this lesson, students will be introduced to the elements of reasoning, universal intellectual standards associated with critical thinking, and the domains of thinking. The overall purpose is to drive students to enthusiastically conduct critical analysis throughout the course.
Furthermore, military historian and theorist Martin Van Creveld contends that military leaders, in their search for certainty, must "distinguish between the relevant and irrelevant, the important and the unimportant, the reliable and the unreliable, the true and the false." Such discernment is the product of a disciplined mind. Only a practiced and disciplined thinker can achieve the "superior understanding" Napoleon called upon to balance intuitive judgment and rational calculation. It is superior understanding/critical thinking that enables the leader to balance deductive reasoning with inductive reasoning and "to cope with uncertainty through centralization and decentralization." Indeed, as the critical thinker develops their intellectual traits, they are able to avoid egocentrism and technocentrism and to combat uncertainty.
Human behavior is a complex and intricate area of study. It is affected by our perceptions of the world around us, our social environments, and our value systems. Our Corps is a reflection of the attitudes and behaviors exhibited by our Marines. By exploring our ethos and values, we can better understand the factors that drive our attitudes and behaviors.
A large body of evidence in social psychology supports the concept that situational power triumphs over individual power in given contexts. A full understanding of the dynamics of human behavior requires that we recognize the extent and limits of personal power, situational power, and systemic power. Changing or preventing undesirable behavior of individuals or groups requires an understanding of what strengths, virtues, and vulnerabilities they bring into a given situation. Then we must fully recognize the complexity of situational forces that exist in a given setting. Modifying them, or learning to avoid them, can have a greater impact on reducing undesirable individual reactions than remedial actions directed only at changing the people in the situation. While situational and systemic forces may lend to an individual's behavior, they do not excuse the person or absolve them from responsibility in engaging in immoral, illegal, or evil deeds.
Oral communication affords the speaker an immediate opportunity to influence an individual or group; however, the speaker must apply certain strategies to achieve the desired effect. This lesson will cover effective communication techniques to use while delivering a brief, and the types of rehearsals. Written communication can also influence an individual or an entire command. This lesson will also discuss the different types of staff action papers. Students will be introduced to the format to use when writing a position paper. Students will be assigned a leadership topic to write a position paper.
Leaders must possess the ability to communicate effectively via written documents, letters, and reports in proper English and using standard naval letter format. This lesson will cover the types of military correspondence and their uses, applying the naval letter format, the categories of awards, and policy considerations for writing an award recommendation. Students will write a letter recommending a Marine for an award with enclosures for a summary of action and a proposed citation. The final letter should be coherent, grammatically correct, and in the proper naval letter format.
To understand the Marine Corps' philosophy of warfighting, one must first understand the nature and theory of war as well as the tenets of maneuver warfare, the Marine Corps' philosophy of how we fight and win our nation's battles, and how we integrate these concepts into our leadership and decision-making, regardless of whether we're in a combat or garrison environment.
It is important for staff non-commissioned officers to have common understanding of tactics and the application of tactical fundamentals. This basic knowledge of tactics provides a point of departure for planning, provides a common vocabulary, and ensures clear understanding of the battlespace.
An operational order, more commonly known as a combat order, pertains to strategic, operational, or tactical operations and their service support. Leaders at all echelons use them, from team leader to
MAGTF commander. An operation order sets the "who, what, when, where, and why" of the commander's decision, along with enough of the "how" to ensure synchronization. The order can be issued orally or in writing. When written, it can be as small as a single page in length or as thick as a technical publication. Without orders, a unit has no direction; without direction, a unit cannot fight effectively. A decision, however promising, will fail if the leader cannot effectively communicate it.
This discussion period will help you understand how Marine Corps leaders plan, execute, and assess expeditionary operations.
The Marine Corps doctrinal philosophy of maneuver warfare describes planning as an essential element of the broader field of command and control. The aim of command and control is to enhance the commander's ability to make sound and timely decisions. Effective decision-making requires both situational understanding to recognize the essence of a given problem and the creative ability to devise a practical solution. The planning process is designed to promote understanding among the commander, his staff, and subordinate commanders regarding the nature of a given problem and the options for solving it. There are six steps in the Marine Corps Planning Process (MCPP) intended to inform the commander's decision-making, develop a plan of action, and communicate that plan to those executing the plan. There are several ongoing activities that are continuous throughout the entire process and provide constant feedback to the commander and support the planning effort. This lesson discusses the doctrinal underpinnings of the planning process, considerations to organize for planning, the inputs and outputs of each step of the process, and the ongoing activities within the staff that support the planning process.
Without command and control, campaigns, battles, and organized engagements are impossible, and military units degenerate into mobs. The Marine Corps' view of command and control is based on our common understanding of the nature of war and on our warfighting philosophy as described in
MCDP 1, Warfighting.
MCDP 6 contains the Marine Corps' philosophy of command and control and theorizes how commanders can make decisions and execute plans and orders faster than an adversary. This doctrinal publication provides a conceptual framework for all Marines at all levels for the development and exercise of effective command and control in peace, in crisis, or in war. The purpose of this lesson is to begin a dialogue on the Marine Corps' command and control philosophy.
The shift to renewed great power competition was acknowledged alongside other considerations in the 2015 National Military Strategy and was placed at the center of the Trump Administration’s December 2017 National Security Strategy (NSS) and January 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS). The December 2017 NSS and January 2018 NDS formally reoriented U.S. national security strategy and U.S. defense strategy toward an explicit primary focus on great power competition with China and Russia. The NDS cites Georgia, Crimea, and eastern Ukraine as places of particular concern, but Russia is increasingly engaged in many other countries. China’s nation strategy is focused on Indo-Pacific domination in the near term and displacing the United States as the leading global power in the long term. China is moving aggressively to lock up natural resources and control global transportation routes.
These strategies represent a departure from those that underpinned much of America’s post-9/11 wars—with their heavy components of irregular warfare—but that does not mean a departure from irregular warfare itself. Instead, this strategic emphasis on great-power competition is changing when, where, and how the United States conducts irregular warfare—counterterrorism, unconventional warfare, counterinsurgency, foreign internal defense, and stability operations.
Since the problem posed by IW is not a purely military one, neither is the solution. Being successful at IW is about winning a war of ideas and perception. The battles are fought among the people, and the outcomes are determined by the perceptions and support of the people. Success is achieved by using a comprehensive approach that applies all the instruments of national power—diplomatic, economic, informational, financial, law enforcement, intelligence, and military—to achieve victory by undermining an adversary's popular support, compelling him to quit, collapse, or disappear into irrelevance. This approach can be achieved only by close collaboration of all U.S. government agencies in campaign design, planning, and execution. Furthermore, this approach to IW must carefully consider the cultural environment of the operating area and leverage genuine partnerships with host-nation elements, coalition partners, international nongovernmental organizations, and private voluntary organizations.
Expeditionary capability is the ability to promptly deploy combined arms forces worldwide into any operational environment and operate effectively upon arrival. Expeditionary operations require the ability to deploy quickly with little notice, shape conditions in the operational area, and operate immediately on arrival. Uncertainty, austerity, and the need to match forces to available lift drive expeditionary capabilities. Future conflicts will include incomplete planning information, rapid deployments with little or no notice, and sustained operations in austere theaters. Expeditionary warfare focuses on achieving decisive effects. It places a premium on promptly deploying combat power and constantly adapting to each operation's unique circumstances as they change.
This lesson examines Marine Corps doctrine for the conduct of military operations in an expeditionary environment. The defining characteristic of expeditionary operations is the projection of force into a foreign setting. The Marine Corps is valued as a highly cost-effective military option in a wide range of situations where versatility and adaptability are critical for success. In his Commandant's Planning Guidance, General Berger clarifies that, "The Marine Corps has been and remains the Nation's premier naval expeditionary force-in-readiness. While we stand by to perform 'such other duties as the President may direct,' foreign humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and noncombatant evacuations do not define us - they are not our identity. Rather, they are the day-to-day consequence of being the force-in-readiness. As the force-in-readiness, we are not an across-the-ROMO force; but rather, a force that ensures the prevention of major conflict and deters the escalation of conflict within the ROMO."
Every Marine is responsible for developing those under their charge, leading by personal example. Leaders are responsible for taking advantage of all available training and resources necessary for developing their subordinates in areas of professional competence and Marine Corps values.
Critical to developing subordinate leaders is understanding how leadership skills and knowledge are learned and developed. During this class, students will be introduced to their responsibility of providing formal and informal feedback—teaching—when determining how to bring out the best in their Marines and advising their leaders, which essentially means that this lesson will develop leadership abilities. The overall purpose of this lesson is to present the students with an understanding of how leadership is learned, what their responsibilities are in shaping professional leadership growth in their Marines, and the methods for advising their leaders.
Developing people to their highest potential is a basic leadership responsibility. During this class, students will be introduced to the development of a philosophy of leadership; the benefits of effective counseling and mentoring; the need for, preparation for, conducting of, and monitoring progress of counseling; and the qualities and skills of a mentor. Counseling and mentoring are leadership tools involving two-way communication between a leader and a Marine, or mentor and mentee, and are methods that can be insightful, useful, and motivating in assisting the junior Marine in achieving or maintaining the highest possible level of performance. The overall purpose of this class is to present students with an understanding of their philosophy of leadership, how to go about mentoring someone, what to look for in a mentor, and how counseling develops professional growth.
As our nation's force-in-readiness, Marines are repeatedly called upon to perform tough and challenging missions around the world. Historically, frequent deployments to remote locations have been the norm for the Marine Corps. Marine Corps leadership has managed to maintain the resiliency of the men and women who can sustain such austere conditions while preserving our fighting strength. However, there is always the risk of combat and operational stress injuries amongst warriors who push themselves so hard to achieve what is asked of them. For that reason, it is imperative for Marine Corps leaders to recognize circumstances that place their Marines at risk for stress injuries and quickly take appropriate action so that care may be given.
As a gunnery sergeant, you are no longer the junior ranking Staff Non-Commissioned Officer. It is incumbent on you to take the necessary steps needed to reach your potential. The Marine Corps has shown trust and confidence in your ability to lead; only you can prove the institution right. A goal of Marine Corps leadership is to develop the leadership qualities of all Marines enabling them to assume greater responsibilities to the Marine Corps and society. To better facilitate this goal you should know your Marines (their motivations and aspirations) and look out for their well-being. Sound decision making and problem solving will place you in the confidence of your leadership, peers, and subordinates. Therefore, building and maintaining this confidence will assist in the success of the unit as a whole. Failure to execute your duties as a gunnery sergeant will not only jeopardize the individual Marines in your charge, but the entire unit.
The Career School Seminar Program is available to staff sergeants and staff sergeant selects who have completed the Career Course DEP on MarineNet (EPME6000AA). CSSP (or the resident Career School course) is a PME requirement for promotion from staff sergeant to gunnery sergeant. Read about the enrollment process.
MARADMIN 451/20, Academic Year 2021 Class Dates for the Enlisted College Distance Education and Training Weekend Seminar Programs, announces the AY20 class dates and course prerequisites for the Career School Seminar Program.
All students will be assigned an instructor and will attend the seminar at a specified location or asynchronously online. CSSP consists of a 15-week program, students meeting one night per week or one weekend per month. The following are CSSP course schedules for each schedule type. Schedules for individual seminars are provided by region.
Weekday and Online:
The American Council on Education (ACE) recommends 3 upper-division bachelor's degree credits in Business Communications and 3 in Leadership and Ethics.
Contact us for any information or guidance about CDET's seminar-based distance education programs for enlisted Marines.
Read about the Moodle learning management system or log into the MarineNet Moodle portal.
Several external resources are available to assist in your research or school work.
Transcripts can be obtained via MarineNet.
Remember that Regional Culture and Language Familiarization (RCLF) is a requirement for PME completion.