Throughout NROTC, Officer Candidates School, and The Basic School, the enlisted Marine, and especially the non-commissioned officer (NCO), is put on a sacred holy pedestal. Marine Officers are taught to worship them, trust them, listen to every damn thing that comes out of their mouths and trust it implicitly.

In truth, if you come to the fleet with that attitude it will last you maybe two days before your CO comes down on you hard because you trusted something your Marine said that was total and complete crap.

Just like anywhere else, there’s good Marines and bad Marines. Believe it or not, there’s also good NCOs and bad NCOs. In quite a few occupational specialties, it’s not terribly difficult to pick up Corporal and Sergeant. On top of that, the criteria for picking up Corporal and Sergeant includes rifle range scores, MCMAP belts, and other such qualities that have little to do with leadership or MOS skills.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t trust your Marines and NCOs. As the officer in charge you need to make sure that what they’re telling you makes sense before you make a decision based on that information. Throughout NROTC, OCS, and TBS, you’re going to be exposed to the best NCOs that the Marine Corps has to offer. THEY ARE NOT ALL LIKE THAT. Many of them are, and you need to identify those as your go-to Marines early on.

So just as you need to earn your Marines’ trust, they need to earn yours as well. When you first show up, ask questions. Figure out who the NCOs are that the platoon looks to when there’s a problem. See who knows their job, and most importantly, know YOUR MOS well enough that you can catch bad information. You will have some dedicated Corporals and Sergeants, and you’re going to have some awful ones. One of the first things you need to to is find out which are which.