Our Work with the U.S. Marine Corps
Critical Thinking For Success began its work with the U.S. Marine Corps in August of 2007 and is continuing it to the present. We were first asked to demonstrate our ability to improve the thinking skills of a platoon of Marines stationed in Hawaii. The thinking behind this demonstration was to see if we could help the Marines be able to prevent casualties due to improvised explosive devices as well as general improvement of performance in their training and when deployed. We were assigned a platoon that was considered by the commanding officer and his staff to be the worse platoon in the battalion and there are 15 combat platoons to a battalion. It was judged to be the worse platoon both in previous performance during deployment, in training exercises and in behavior. In the month and a half before we arrived three Marines in the platoon had attempted suicide and the Staff Sargent was getting over 20 calls a weekend due to behavior problems when the platoon was on liberty.
We assessed two platoons from the same Company and only trained one, the worst one. The other platoon was considered a control group and received the same Marine training as the platoon we trained except for our cognitive training. That platoon was ranked as 12th out of 15 while our platoon was ranked 15th. We trained the platoon two hours a week for ten weeks and gave them exercises to do during the week between trainings. We trained them in 7 basic thinking skills that were highly necessary in doing their jobs as Marines and that were generally less efficient as determined by our assessment process on average.
In six weeks in live training exercises on the big island of Hawaii, our platoon was judged by by the Commanding Officer of the battalion and his staff as greatly improved and as one of the best platoons in the battalion. After ten weeks of training the Staff Sargent of the platoon was receiving zero calls when the platoon was on liberty and in their 30 day pre-deployment training at 29 Palms Marine Base in southern California, our platoon was not only judged as the top platoon in the battalion, but the instructors at 29 Palms judged the platoon as one of the best platoons that had ever gone through pre-deployment at 29 Palms. The control platoon was judged as having moved from 12th to 11th in the battalion.
We were then confronted by a Major, who was head of the Regimental School, saying that he believed the improvement of the platoon could have been due to us being good father figures to the Marines. We had had to embed with the Marines in order to get our training to fit in and so he felt our exposure to the Marines could have accounted for our great success. He challenged us to try to improve Marine marksmanship without the Marines having to go to the rifle range and without us embedding with the Marines. We accepted the challenge. We assessed 30 instructors from the school and they went to the rifle range and shot a series of targets from different distances and different positions so that they would have a base line score to compared with later. Due to schedules, only 20 instructors were available for the study. They were randomly selected to be in the training group and in the control group, 10 in each group. We trained the 10 Marines 2 hours a week for 6 weeks and again due to scheduling problems we could not complete the 10 weeks of training.
After 10 weeks the training group and the control group went back to the rifle range, having not shot a rifle in 10 weeks, and shot the same routine of targets as the first time. The control group improved on an average of 4 points and the training group improved on an average of 24 points.
This so impressed the Major that he volunteered to be the captain of the pistol and rifle team from Hawaii competing in the all Pacific Marine Pistol and Rifle contest. The team was made up of one Marine who had competed before and the rest of the team were all rookies. We trained the team, using our cognitive exercises. In the previous 30 years, Hawaii had won one gold medal and that had not been recently.
The team placed in the individual competition 8 members of the team in the top 11 spots. As a team they won the gold medal in the rifle competition. The Major wrote and had published in the Marine Gazette in January, 2009, an article about our work regarding marksmanship and the pistol and rifle team.
We have continued our work in Chicago with the Marines. The Major coincidentally was transferred to Chicago to head up the recruiting station in the Chicago area. It was next to last out of all the recruiting stations in the country and the Major was sent to turn it around. With our help within 6 months it became one of the top recruiting stations in the country. The Marine Corps is sending representatives to Chicago to see what has caused such a change.
The Major’s goal this year is to be the number recruiting station the country having his men only work 4 days a week.