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Staff noncommissioned officers attending the Advanced Course at the Camp Hansen Staff Noncommissioned Officer Academy (SNCOA) receive a brief before engaging in a littoral war game on Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan, July 29, 2021. Using predictive analytical tools, critical decision making, and feasibility of support, students attending the Advanced School at the SNCOA used a littoral war game to combine their diverse backgrounds and simulate various sea-based operations and strategies. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Alex Fairchild)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Alex Fairchild

Camp Hansen Staff Noncommissioned Officer Academy strives for excellence in developing senior leaders and its faculty advisors

3 Jun 2024 | Cpl. Alex Fairchild Marine Corps Installations Pacific

 The Staff Noncommissioned Officer Academy Okinawa, the premiere destination for all sergeants through gunnery sergeants across Marine Corps Installations Pacific to attend professional military education courses for their rank, is not only a competitive opportunity for the current faculty advisors leading these courses, but also for anyone who wants a unique challenge, career opportunity, and the chance to mold the next generation of leaders in the Marine Corps.

The SNCOA Okinawa is currently facilitated by 14 Marine faculty advisors and two communication specialist civilians. Their day-to-day holds unique opportunities and benefits that encourage any Marine looking for a challenge to pursue.

“One of the biggest professional takeaways from being a faculty advisor is my sharpened ability in public speaking,” said U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Matthew Brassard, the academics officer with the SNCOA Okinawa. “As a former schoolhouse instructor for my original military occupational specialty, I only spoke in front of around 20 Marines. Here at the SNCOA, I speak in front of groups as large as 120.”

Brassard explained that another perk of faculty advisors is networking. He said that despite being a faculty advisor, he learns most from his students and their experiences.

“If you are a staff noncommissioned officer, and want to become a faculty advisor, you can apply today,” said Brassard. “Go to the College of Enlisted Military Education’s website and fill out the screening checklist, which needs to be signed by your leadership. After this is completed, your leadership contacts the SNCOA, and you’ll be set up for an interview with us.”

After the interview process, applicants will then present a short lecture to the same group that interviewed them to gauge their level of comfortability in public speaking and what they need to improve on should they become a faculty advisor. If their package is favorably signed off, those applicants will receive orders and must successfully complete the Faculty Advisor Course before teaching at the SNCOA.

The Faculty Advisor Course is held in Quantico, Virginia, and is 3 weeks long. Brassard said that the course ensures future faculty advisors are proficient in everything they will be teaching, as well as develops their teaching style and presentation skills.

Given that the SNCOA Okinawa graduated 677 students in 2023, the institution serves not only as a premiere destination for PME completion, but as a melting pot for different military occupational specialties to bring their experiences to the table.

“For the students themselves, our primary goals are to develop their communication and critical thinking skills,” said Brassard. “This goes hand-in-hand with the wide variety of things we teach such as warfighting and officer-enlisted communication. Additionally, students can see the benefits of being an instructor here, even if it’s not a career path they initially thought about.”

The journey of career progression does not end at faculty advisor. Within the SNCOA lies the Master Faculty Advisor Program; a program that encourages faculty advisors to rise above and stand out among their peers with billets to achieve, such as junior, senior, and master faculty advisors.

“Being a faculty advisor feels like one of the best kept secrets of the Marine Corps,” said Brassard. “It's a chance to not only mold the next generation of leaders, but to experience great career opportunities and progression for yourself.”