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1/7/2011 By Cpl. Shannon McMillan , 1st Marine Logistics Group (FWD)

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan — Twenty-five Marines from 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward) graduated from the 3-week Marine Corps Martial Arts Program Instructor course at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, Jan. 7.

Dedicating more than 160 hours to earn the title MCMAP instructor, the Marines were physically and mentally challenged with combat conditioning, strength exercises and mental assessments during the course.

“They are very solid leaders and solid martial arts instructors,” said Sgt. Faustino Alonzo, a Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructor-Trainer for the course. “They have been taught by some of the best [instructors] I know.”

The Marines who graduated have the knowledge and skill to teach Marines of every rank how to upgrade to the next belt level, said Alonzo, wrecker noncommissioned officer in charge, 1st Maintenance Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 15 (Forward), 1st MLG (FWD).

MCMAP is a combat system developed by the Marine Corps that teaches hand-to-hand and close quarters combat techniques. The program focuses on mental and character development, the responsible use of force, leadership and teamwork.

“It’s important to do it while we are in Afghanistan because of the environment that we are in,” said Alonzo. “It sets the correct mindset.”

The “combat mindset” results when Marines are educated and trained on mental, moral and physical disciplines, explained Alonzo.

“It was a tough course,” said Sgt. Ian O. Lockheart, a recent graduate. “I’m kind of glad it’s finally over; it was physically demanding, but it was very good.”

To be eligible for the course, Marines must be at least a corporal, earn a 225 or above on the physical fitness test, must be within height and weight standards and have completed the gray-belt course.

The instructor course is taught by MCMAP Instructor-Trainers who have graduated from one of the seven martial arts Instructor-Trainer around the Corps.

“It’s important to make instructors for the simple fact that the Marine Corps needs to produce ethical warriors,” Alonzo said.

Upon graduating from the course, the MCMAP instructors were awarded a green, brown or black belt along with a vertical tan tab signifying their instructor status.

During the MCMAP instructor course the Marines are educated on warrior and martial arts culture, the history of MCMAP and enhanced leadership skills, which is something they bring back to their units.

Graduating from the course is just the beginning for the new instructors, as they will now pass on what they have learned to junior belt holders in order to create more finely tuned warriors.

“I would love to give back to the Marines under my command now and any other ones I am in charge of in the future,” said Lockheart, communication technician, 1st Maintenance Company, CLR-15 (FWD).