State of the SFMC February 2012
Greetings to all marines
At time of writing this I feel it important to draw attention to a few key matters.
Firstly, let's talk about the membership of the SFMC
Currently, there are 1,104 members of the Corps - being 565 Active and 539 reserves, Spread over 147 Units. This figure represents an exact total of 25% of current STARFLEET Internationalmembership - meaning that 1-in-4 members are also members of the SFMC and an increase since my last report. Regardless of recent discussions regarding membership levels, that's got be pretty fabulous in anyone's book no matter how you look at it.
Allowing for some shrinkage due to 'retired subscriptions' but also taking into consideration that the SFMC has seen nothing but continued growth over the last decade (for instance) - this gives a pretty clear example that the SFMC is very much alive and well, and heading towards its 30th Anniversary in fine fashion.
We sometimes hear of the "apathy that affects the Corps" and comments that we are are a "shrinking organization". Well I for one disagree with that (but acknowledge the need to be continually striving for growth all the same) as the evidence towards the membership of the last several years belies such remarks, especially as there has been no "downward trend" evident.
Of course there is some apathy evident - what fan club does not suffer that? And sure, we will lose members who are either dissatisfied, bored, disgruntled for some reason or other or (sadly) go unrewarded for their efforts and therefore depart.
We must therefore recognize that apathy is a real. live thing but that it is up to each and every one of us to do something about it where we can.
My point to raising this, is that although all of the aforementioned elements can sometimes be easily 'talked away', there is also the truth that as a body, we need to understand and identify those concerns of the group membership as a whole, that can indeed accelerate any apathy/dissatisfaction to the point that people will leave because they simply don't get what they seek from theorganization.
This responsibility falls squarely to the GS first; to Battalion and Brigade leaders secondly, but also to the Corps as a whole thereafter. Providing a concise over-view, the GS must seek to satisfy the needs of the total membership as best as they can and at same time, retain "order, authority and example" as required. Members of the Corps also must buy-in to this philosophy by ensuring that they have best opportunity to maximize the fun elements they seek from their membership but working within the bounds of the 'rules and regulations' that have been set.
"And what does all this mean?" I hear you cry.. From my viewpoint, simply this. Many of the major "issues" that arise from time to time, do so because of one simple fact - people have not read the manual.
Or maybe they HAVE read the manual, but have decided to interpret what they have read in their own fashion, or they simply just don't understand what it tells them and charge on regardless. This leads to confusion, conflicting viewpoints, incorrect information being communicated, frustration, anger, contempt of any 'authority' and ultimately, dissatisfaction and discontent. You would be surprised as to how many of our 'leaders' in this organization are just as guilty as everyone else of not first, simply having read the manual.
The SFMC manuals are our most important documents. They provide the summation of almost thirty years of organizational structure, compiled from long experience and intelligence into a fashion so as to ensure this organization works from a solid base foundation.
Without the 'rules, policies and regulations' placed within them, we would have almost chaos, because what all this text therein is designed to do, is to ensure that the SFMC is a well-structured, well-defined organization and to provide clear, concise information on how to be a member of the Corps.
This applies most especially to our Dress Code - because this Code was simply established to ensure uniformity of dress for members of this club and to protect against 'possible conerns' from anyone in the real-world not recognizing what we wear as being a "fan uniform" - a bit hard sometimes perhaps with BDU's and S&Ps, but I am sure you will understand the meaning.
Without such a Uniform Code, we could wear any style of uniform we like and still call ourselves members of the SFMC.
So how many Star Wars stormtroopers would we see with SFMC patches slapped on maybe? US Army ACU's in digi-camo would abound (yep, let's all look like real soldiers..) - and there could even then be a few wearing US Civil War reenactment uniforms with phasers strapped on.
Fun? Heck yes for sure! But reflecting us as being members of a Star Trek fan club? Don't think so. And hence a very simplistic and narrow viewpoint as to the need for 'dress regulation'.
These rules are our guidelines - made to ensure that as a body, members reflect that simple act of membership in a uniform manner. We don't NEED an SFMC uniform to be a marine, but for those who wish to dress as one, then they should have a guideline for how to dress to attend an official SFMC function. If not, then let's all drag out our old military uniforms and pin some ST delta's on. (Don't know what ever happened to mine and it wouldn't fit me anyway..)
But enough of all that ranting. Finish this bit off with that age-old cry made by many Commandants before me - if you have any suggestions; ideas; comments; etc etc, then PASS THEM ON. Don't sit back waiting to pounce and criticize just when the occasion appears. Talk to us. Talk to the leaders in your Unit, Battalion or Brigade. Make sure you ARE getting your opinions and viewpoints across - because if you don't, then you will have to accept those ideas, elements and any 'rules' that get forced upon you... This is YOUR club remember.
The SFMC Wilderness Challenge (WC) - Moving to another topic, the WC under the exceptional guardianship of GEN Wade Olson and the Wilderness Challenge Committee, is very alive and well and should be bought to your attention. As the Northern Hemisphere summer season approaches, Units, Battalions or Brigades may be looking to plan such an event and the WC Committee would love to hear from you.
GEN Olson has authorized the creation of an SFMC Wilderness Challenge Manual, which will shortly appear within the SFMC library on the SFMC website.
Anyone interested in learning more of the WC should be able to find the majority of answers to any questions within this manual, but if not, then I am certain GEN Olson will look forward to helping you as required. He can be contacted on email@example.com.
The WC will also soon have its own information page(s)on the SFMC website and this too will help provide clear overviews of this great program
Devices & Awards - there have been some recent discussion surrounding this topic - some relevant, some not. It is appreciated that there are criticisms associated with how long some things seem to take, but it should also be acknowledged that the current devices and awards have been in place for many years and any significant changes to these should be made cautiously and correctly. We may be slow but we plan to be exact.
Also, look for a new announcement shortly to another award to be added to the list - one which I might add fills a very good need and is not simply "just another award"
SFMC Scholarship Fund - as you will have seen from the recent FinCom report, the SFMC Scholarship Fund has a healthy balance of some $2,700.00. To the best of my knowledge, there has only ever been one application/recipient to this Fund and surely there must be others out there who could make great use of this resource? Have a read through the criteria on the SFMCA website ( http://sfmca.sfi-sfmc.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=85&Itemid=514) and post any queries you may have to COTraCom ( firstname.lastname@example.org).
We sure would love to see these funds being used for what they were gathered for.
And I guess that's enough from me. I trust that this report provides some insights and overviews. If it doesn't I remind you all once again that my door is always open and that I am more than happy to hear of anyone's concerns, suggestions or ideas so do feel free to express them to me.
Lastly, I close with this reminder (speaking of SFMC uniforms) which you see pop up all over from now on - just as a reminder as to why we have need for such a Code:
The STARFLEET Marine Corps has a wide variety of uniforms authorized in the MFM, sutiable for any 'Trek era, as well as designs whose primary vlaue is that they are relatively inexpensive and consist of components widely available through a variety of commercial sources.
Remember that at no time is any uniform required, but if a STARFLEET Marine Corps uniform is worn, it should be one of the designs authroized in the MFM and the uniform should be worn "correctly".
The MFM contains a caution that bears repeating often : Uniforms should not be worn to functions where the majority of attendees would not recognize it as some type of fan uniform. The Mess White and Class C uniforms are not readily recognizable as a non-military uniform. Marines should avoid wearing the uniform in any context where is may appear paramilitary or intimidating to the public.
Brigadier General, SFMC
Commandant, STARFLEET Marine Corps