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Mission First, Marines Always: Back to Basics for Leaders

October 24, 2019

This report originally publishes at

The sword was passed for the 19th time as Sgt. Maj. Troy E. Black became the 19th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps in late July.

“Mission First, Marines Always, Semper Fidelis” were the closing remarks Sgt. Maj. Black addressed the Marines during a social media post on July 27, 2019. As Sgt. Maj. Black accepted the Sword of Office, those four words were a reminder of the responsibilities bestowed upon leaders. “Mission First, Marines Always is not a new concept or new statement,” Sgt. Maj. Black said. “But it is a simple truth that expresses the basic principles of Marine Corps leadership that are essential to our success.”

“The goal of this message is to instill a sense of pride, accomplishment, and a direct connection between senior Marine Corps leadership and every Marine.” Sgt. Maj. Troy E. Black, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps

Mission First, Marines Always is a reminder to leaders that Marines should always focus on the mission as well as the welfare of Marines and their families, “No matter what it is we are tasked to do as Marines, that’s what we’re required to do, accomplish the mission. It’s always mission first, taking care of your Marines and accomplishing that mission, it is what we do each and every day as leaders.” The Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps gets to the heart of Marines Always as Marine leaders learn early on that they must accomplish the mission and that mission accomplishment develops perseverance.

During a visit to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., in August, Sgt. Maj. Black said he wants leaders to emphasize the basics of leadership principles during the decision-making process and understand that “the thing about being a Marine, is passion, the most important thing about being a Marine, is not just JJDIDTIEBUCKLE, you have to get up every day and want to make sure that the name over your left breast pocket is more important than the name over your right breast pocket.”

190726-M-VI229-512 Photo by Pfc. Allen Sanders

Mission First, Marines Always aims to assure all Marines of their leadership’s commitment to them and their families. As well as the intent to set the example for all staff noncommissioned officers to emulate and that “we’re trained to fight because we will win. No matter what you do, you must strive constantly to be the best every day,” said Sgt. Maj. Black.

The Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps recognizes the level of commitment of the Marines and Sailors and that each one of them and their families are important to the success of the Corps. “The welfare of our Marines, Sailors, and their families always underlies and informs the entire decision-making process.”

To fulfill this message successfully, Sgt. Maj. Black wants leaders to get face-to-face with all Marines to discuss service before self.

If Marines take anything away from this message, let it be that the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps will keep paving the way for Marines and Sailors to accomplish the mission and is “blessed to have the opportunity to continue to serve our beloved Corps, remember, Mission First, Marines Always.”

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