CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Accomplishing a certain mission is a career goal for most military members, but for one former logistics Marine, it is a daily objective.
Staff Sgt. Andrew Walters, a combat instructor with Kilo Company, Marine Combat Training Battalion, School of Infantry – West, started off as a bulk fuel specialist with Bulk Fuel Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, before transitioning to his current billet.
“Being a bulk fuel specialist is a good job,” said Walters, a Philadelphia native. “It’s a necessity, which is great. I love my [military occupational specialty], but I love teaching combat tactics.”
The mindset and unit integrity of a ground support unit is very similar to that of an infantry unit, making for a smooth transition to combat instructor, Walters said.
“In a bulk fuel company, you can have a platoon of 20 Marines or a platoon of 70 Marines -- it’s all about personnel management,” he said. “In MCT, it’s very much the same when I’m leading 120 Marines every day. It’s not just about having rank. It’s about having a command presence and being a leader Marines can constantly emulate.”
Each day, Walters sets out to push new Marines further by giving them more knowledge on infantry tactics to make them better.
“There’s a mission every day,” he said. “It’s a lot of full bore, up-tempo, something new every day from sunup to sundown.”
It is not rare for a combat instructor to get less than three hours of sleep a night during a four-week cycle, Walters said. Less sleep can add to additional stress to an already overwhelming training schedule, he added.
“You learn to work around the stress and run with it,” he said.
A combat instructor billet is certainly not for everyone, Walters acknowledged. There is a extensive amount of training, including a 5-, 10- and 15-kilometer hike, and training culminates with a 10-day battle skills readiness exercise to complete each cycle.
“My drive is to get the mission accomplished and not let anyone else down,” Walters said. “If I’m slow and sluggish, [new Marines] are going to see it. No matter how sick I feel, how tired I am, it just goes away, because I have a leadership role as a Marine combat instructor.”