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State of TRACOM, July 2012
State of TRACOM
July 14, 2012

“Semper Eruditio, Semper Docens”

Kinda neat, huh? Its Latin and it means “Always Learning, Always Teaching” which, in my short time as COTRACOM (both acting and official) has become my personal motto for Training and Doctrine Command. I am always learning something new pretty much every day, and to an extent, I teach something to my shipmates or fellow Marines on a daily basis too. I am sure if you sat back and thought about it for a second, you would realize you do as well. It doesn’t need to be some fundamental, life-changing thing like teaching physics or quantitative theory to someone; it can be as simple as telling a friend where to click the mouse on a software program to get to a shortcut or learning a word in a different language (curse words don’t count!).

I really don’t have any numbers to report since my last “by the numbers” was only two weeks ago, but I do have something I wish to cover in-depth: course request and grading turn-around times. Please keep in mind as you read the next few paragraphs (and please read them) that we are all volunteers who all thoroughly enjoy what we do. However, and I have come to have a stigma about this myself from certain corners, real life can jump up and slap us in the face. Have a little patience when dealing with directors and directors need to have the same patience when dealing with students. We give you ten weeks to complete an exam; allow us at least 48 hours to grade the exam.

Now, on to the official verbiage (as taken from the 2010 TRACOM Policies and Procedures Manual):

To request a course from the SFMCA, go to the TRACOM website at sfmca.sfi-sfmc.org and follow the links to the Academy and the “Academy Schools” page to request the desired course. If a Marine does not have access to a computer with Internet access, they can request the courses directly from the School/Branch Director at their snail mail address above. A hard copy of the Manual for that course can also be requested from the Director and the Student will be required to pay the cost of printing/copying and mailing the Manual to the Marine as requested. In order to take a course, the student must complete the prerequisites for that course prior to submitting the course request. PD-10 (Marine Basic Training) is required before any student can request any other course from the SFMCA.

A Marine will have ten (10) weeks to complete the course and return it as instructed for grading. Failure to meet this ten (10) week deadline will require the student to re-request the course and begin the process anew. If a time extension is required, the Student should make contact with the Branch Director concerned. 

***Each Marine may request only one test from each of the various Branches/Academies/Schools within TRACOM at any one time, and the practice of requesting/taking more than one test at a time, regardless of Branch, is strongly discouraged by TRACOM.*** The reasoning behind this is that a Marine may not be able to devote the proper time and effort required by each course to pass it in a timely fashion and with a strong score due to unforeseen problems; for instance, the test may be more difficult than originally thought by the Marine and would require his full attention.

When a Marine returns tests, the appropriate staff member scores them. The grading scale is:
• 70%-95% Passing
• 96%-99% Honors
• 100%+ Distinction

The pertinent Branch Director, except in cases where the exam has been proctored by another TRACOM staff member, in the case of all –10/-20 level courses, will grade tests for their particular Branch. The only person(s) authorized to score a particular –10/-20 level course is the Branch Director for that Branch or a person who is proctoring the course as explained below. COTRACOM and DCOTRACOM are authorized to score the exams of any Branch if the Branch Director is going to be away for extended periods or has other difficulties that prevent them from fulfilling their role in this manner.

The –30 level tests will be graded by the pertinent Branch Director if they have also passed their Branches –30 course; if the Branch Director has not passed their particular -30 level courses, the topic will be approved (and the paper will be scored) by COTRACOM or DCOTRACOM, depending upon availability.

A Marine who does not pass a course will be permitted to retake the course, but must wait a minimum of six (6) months before requesting a retake of the course. The Branch Director will make every effort to help the student as much as possible without giving the answers; there will not be a FAIL entered into the database. The student and director must keep accurate records as to when the six month timeframe has passed.

Whenever possible, Branch and Course Directors are charged with honoring course requests and grading returned courses within 48-72 hours of receipt. This is what is considered an acceptable service and is the goal for all TRACOM directors. Naturally this is not always possible however, particularly when personnel attend regional/Fleet events or are away on vacation. If a school needs to be closed or will be slow in responding for a time, this will be announced on the Corps-l mailing list. If a Marine has a question regarding a long delay in a course request being honored or results being entered into the database, it is expected that the Marine will contact the course director first to determine if it is simply that the person has been unexpectedly unable to perform these duties (computer problem, family emergency, illness, etc.). If the course director does not answer, or is not able to solve the problem quickly, their next point of contact is the DCOTRACOM. If there is still no resolution, they should then contact the COTRACOM.

Every effort will be made by TRACOM staff to get the test out to the requesting Marine at a maximum of within one week of the request– but ideally, within the time frame listed previously should apply (48 to 72 hours from receipt). In this same vein, every effort is made to get the scores to the Marine within a maximum of one week of their submission. It is recognized however, that all TRACOM staff members are volunteers and may have other problems or commitments in their personal lives that prevent them from meeting this goal. 

End passage.

So now, you have hopefully learned something you mayn’t have known before. Please remember the Academy is here for your enjoyment, a possibility of learning something new about real life (PD and LD come to mind), or maybe even something about this show we’ve all seen parts and pieces of called…what is the name?...oh yeah, Star Trek.

Next month’s State of Address will have July’s graduates and more by the numbers. If you ever have any questions, my door, like those of all of your General Staff, is always open. Our individual email addresses can be located on the main SFMC website. Until next time…

“Semper Eruditio, Semper Docens”

In Service,
Gary “Tiny” Hollifield, Jr.
Major General, SFMC
Commanding Officer, Training and Doctrine Command
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