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State of TRACOM, August 2010
Friday, 20 August 2010 13:00

Greetings to all Marines and students of the SFMCA

I was once told "never start a communication with an apology" - but I have to in this case. So - my apologies for the delay in getting this report out, but I managed to squeeze some time out to grab a shuttle to another part of the planet (Australia in this case) to attend the 11th Brigade Muster and R11 Summit.  I survived.... just... Hence the delay in reporting.

As per every report I have written in the last several months or so, TRACOM remains a very busy place. The recent IM coincided with the release of several revised and updated RACOM manuals and with this series of publications comes the revisions and additions to many of our branches and schools curricula. You can certainly look forward to another round of new and/or revised exams shortly I would imagine. And on that subject - the first topic of discussion…

Level 30 and 60 Exams
Some students seem to balk at taking on the level 30 examinations. We see them steadily advance through all the ten and twenty courses, only to often find they have stepped aside from taking that "last step" that would enable them to graduate from the school. The same is obviously true of the level 60 courses - although it has to be accepted that these exams do require a much greater degree of interest and effort.

But in reality - this should not be the end of a student's study at these schools. Level 30 exams (in particular) need not be the 'ogre' that many seem to attach to them, and graduation does not need to be considered some "unachievable pillar to scale". It is accepted that the SFMCA is not a 'cut and paste' Academy and there needs to be more effort and understanding applied - but this is how it should be. Here, we are all about learning new and interesting topics and in most instances, our exams do require the student to have at the very least, a basic understanding of the topic.

But going back to the level 30, have you thought of asking the support of the Director of the Branch or School you are studying at, for possible ideas of a presentation?  Most of our Branch Directors are brimming with ideas for new subject matter and sometimes a simple inquiry will give the student enough material ideas to be able to go away and complete a paper. Don't be fooled! Many, many new courses and resource material have been taken from student's level 30 presentations - so TRACOM needs you as much as you may 'need' the graduation device or award.  So before think about you give up, think about dropping us a line - we are here to help... 

Team Delta
I reckon that not enough can be said about this new incentive - and again, we congratulate those worthy winners to this inaugural award in 2010. Well done that first team!   Since the announcement of this award, we have received quite a few queries on "how do I get in?"  Well I can tell you - it isn't easy. This is an elite bunch of people and entry is (generally) through nomination by a TRACOM Director based on the work done by a student (although there are other nominations that can be made by TRACOM staff) during the year and this is the only way you can get in. So how do you get nominated? Well one of the most obvious steps, is to attack those Level 30 exams we were just talking about. An excellent and solid presentation of a good, intelligent and worthy Level 30 paper (or a level 60 especially) may well see your name on that list and your right to wear the double knot hang cord. Team Delta - once you're in, you're in for good.

TRACOM Ecerts and A New Department (ADC)
With the decision by the General Staff to hand back the issuance of TRACOM certificates to us, we will soon be able to clear up any "backlog".  But to achieve this, and coupled with the steadily increasing workload associated with TRACOM certification, we have now created a new TRACOM department. This is referred to as the Office of the ADC (Awards, Devices and Certification) and will be headed by the very efficient BGEN Scott Anderson. As this office will also soon take over the distribution and management of both the MURP and MOSC programs, it has been decided that an assistant will also be required to help Scott chew through the work. The role of the ADC Clerk has recently been advertised and anyone interested in applying for that role should process this through Scott. We would also at this time like to acknowledge the efforts and commitment over the years of Joe Dorffner who has been handling the TRACOM Ecerts for some time. Thank you Joe - we all appreciate your service to the Corps!

Student of Month
As usual, the DCOTRACOM has compiled the results of the many students to pass through our doors during the month of July and we can announce that the SotM for July was Thomas Clark of the 3rd Brigade (11 courses, 3 Distinctions and 5 Honors), with runner up being Kerry Furr of the 12th Brigade (6 courses, 5 with Distinction). So we offer our congratulations to these two excellent students, and remind Thomas of his automatic progression through to the Student of the Year nomination. It is also time to announce our Cadet Student of the Month - and for the month of July, this goes out to Noah Cook of the 2nd Brigade, with Benjamin Slavin of the 7th Brigade as runner up. Well done you two !

Manual Updates and Revisions
The recent release of many updated TRACOM manuals has bought quite a few changes to detailing and information. Much of this of course, has a direct correlation to our exams and courses and it is very important that students recognize this. What this means is that many exams will have elements changed to directly reflect any of the changes that have occurred in the manual or manuals used for resource, and if you are referring to 'old' manuals, you may well not find the information you require, or research the wrong information. It is recommended that you always check that you are referring to the LATEST issue of any manual you are using or have stored on your computer.  

One note here of importance, is the addition to a huge amount of new equipment and craft in the Arms & Equipment manual. Of particular note is the new SFMC Craft that will eventually replace all other SFMC aerospace craft are very detailed. Any Unit that has been using these craft for their role play situations will be well advised to look to perhaps changing to these specifically and uniquely SFMC designed craft. Expect more to follow. Lastly, thanks to the assistance of the G-3 Officer, there will be a second round of TRACOM manual revision that wills see some further revisions to manuals that did not get completed in time for the 'first round'. These will be published by December. 

TRACOM Devices
Sadly, with the change of ownership of New Moon Props has come the removal of 95% of the resin SFMC devices and rank insignia sold by the previous owners. None of this material is available any longer and the new owners have refused to sell us the moulds or any "excess" stock of these items - so we simply cannot access or replace them at this time.  The greatest effect this has is that the IN Devices (awarded after successful completion of IN-20 and IN-30 exams) are at this time, not available at all. And as these were a specific TRACOM design and not made up from 'real-world' devices, cannot be easily replaced. We are working on and looking through a wide range of options but regrettably, we can do nothing to assist those looking for these devices at this time. We will keep you posted on development.

Exam Turnarounds
Going by this month's TRACOM Directors' report, the turnaround for exam requests and grading from all Branches/Schools during July was as follows – Requests : 1.4 days  Exam Turnaround : 1 day
Not bad - and certainly well in line with TRACOM policy!  We are here to provide a service....Well done to the TRACOM team.

New Courses/New Idea
Got a new course of a new idea? We are always interested to hear from our members of their ideas for anything that would either improve, expand, develop or add to our ever expanding list of courses OR anything related to the Corps by way of technology, arms and equipment that you would like to see added . We are always happy to hear from you and remember - no such thing as a bad ideas (well there is but you know what I mean...).

Staff Vacancy
For those interested in joining the TRACOM team, a vacancy at one of our Branch's is about to be advertised. Watch the Corps list for details. And that is my lot. A lot to talk about here. So I thank you for taking the time to read through. TRACOM remains one of the most exciting sections of the Corps and I am always amazed at the ability of our team here to passionately continue to volunteer their services to their fellow members. I am sure that each and every Marine out there appreciates the services they provide.
See you all on campus!

Brigadier Bruce O'Brien