MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – The Marine
Expeditionary Unit represents everything the Marine Corps
The Marines that comprise the MEU are the
first responders to crisis around the world. Its success is
carried out by young Marines dedicated to maintaining a
force in readiness. However, this would not be possible
without exceptional senior leadership at the MEU.
Master Sgt. Scott Svetkovich has lead Marines for more than
16 years using his signature style of leadership. Svetkovich
continues to leave his mark on the Corps as the intelligence
chief with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Master Sgt. Scott Svetkovich, intelligence
chief, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, has led Marines throughout
the Corps for more than 16 years using his signature style of
leadership. It's a skill he continues to sharpen and instill in the
Marines with the 15th MEU. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Emmanuel
Ramos, April 24, 2014)
In this interview he shares how he makes an impact on the MEU and
what it takes to be a good leader.
Q: What does the
intelligence section bring to the fight?
A: The intelligence
effort provides the operations section with targets to prosecute and
information and intelligence on the enemy, which the commander can
[use to] devise courses of action to prosecute those targets.
Q: As an intelligence chief, what do you bring to the fight?
A: My job is to assist the intelligence officer on the guidance
and direction of the intelligence effort and to train, with regards
to ground training and [military occupational specialty]
proficiency, the Marines in the section.
Q: Why is your job
crucial to the overall mission of the MEU?
the intelligence function drives any type of operation. Operators
don't know where the bad guys are unless we tell them. There would
be no mission without the information we provide.
kind of a leader are you and where did you learn it?
firm, but fair. I think leadership philosophies are built from both
good and bad leaders we have throughout our service. My particular
leadership philosophy is three fold; make better Marines, make
better [intelligence] analysts, because that's what we need here,
and make better people, because not everybody is going to be the
[Marine] that retires. So the guys that are four years and get out,
the least we can do is prepare them by giving them some sort of
ethos from which they can base the rest of their life on.
What do you expect from your Marines?
A: I expect 100 percent
effort, 100 percent of the time. Whether good, bad or indifferent,
as long as they are doing what they can to the best of their
Q: Your Marines have a demanding job with a lot at
stake. Do you teach them how to handle the pressure that comes with
A: I don't think you can be taught how to handle
that pressure. I think with any job, you either have that or you
don't. Most guys that do have that are good at briefing and do the
research. The guys that don't you can kind of teach it to them, but
they will only succeed, in my opinion, so far. What I provide them
is an example of how to deal with that type of stuff. Even if
they're not great at it from the get go, at least they have someone
they can try to emulate and not get nervous in front of the boss.
Q: Who was your most influential leader in your career?
A: I've met a few, and from each of those individuals I have pulled
something from them. The first [intelligence] chief I ever worked
for was kind of a hard-nose guy and raised me as a ground guy. He
gave me that edge that people talk about. As I got up the ranks, as
a [gunnery sergeant] I ran into a master sergeant who was super
smart. At least in the job, when you get that high you think there's
nothing more you can learn, you've experienced everything there is.
He taught me different ways to look at problem sets, different ways
you can come at an analytic problem. Both of them remain good
friends to me today.
Q: What's a lesson you hope Marines
throughout the MEU can learn from you?
A: It's supposed to be
hard. It's this business for a reason. So if it's hard one day,
that's the way it's supposed to be, but at the end of the day it's
supposed to be fun. If you're not having fun, find another job.
Q: What makes a good leader?
A: A cup of coffee and a big
belly (as he said with a laugh). Nah, I think a good leader is
someone who doesn't just talk the party lines, but also walks them.
Anyone can get up in front of a formation of guys and say honor,
courage and commitment. Oorah! It's those guys that actually live by
it, the lifestyle. It's easy to wake up and just show up to work on
time. It's easy to be a Marine, like the bare minimum guy. It's
simple. Show up to work on time, do what you're told when you're
told to do it, [physical training] and go home when they tell you.
Where it becomes hard is to be a good Marine. That is not just
telling your Marines, this is the way we're supposed to do it, but
showing them this is the way you're supposed to do it.
What do you look for in a good leader?
A: Those people that
live the ethos and not just take the easy way just because it's
convenient for everybody; but this is the way we're going to do
business because this is the way we're supposed to do business. It's
not always easy, but it's not supposed to be.
Q: What do you
demand of yourself?
A: I demand for myself nothing more than
I would ask any Marine to do for me. So the same thing I ask them,
100 percent effort, 100 percent of the time, and I've given that my
entire career and I'll continue to do it until someone gives me a
flag and tells me to go.
Q: With 16 years of service, is
there anything left you'd like to accomplish as a leader?
I came to the MEU because this is the only challenge in my job that
I haven't done. This is the big show. With the wars over,
realistically, if you want to be on a pro team this is it. There is
no other place in the Marine Corps where you're going to get this
opportunity. In the [intelligence] community as a master sergeant
you don't get to be this close to [junior] Marines this much.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish on the MEU's next deployment?
A: Not getting fired (he said with a serious look and then broke
into laughter). No, a successful MEU [deployment]. You go out with
all your guys and you come back with all your guys would make it
By U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Emmanuel Ramos
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