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Photo Information

Lt. Gen. Tim Keating, center, takes a photo with the graduating class of the Defence Force Command and Staff College, Wellington, New Zealand, Nov. 19, 2015. Sgt. Maj. Christian L. Charkowski, in the second row, third from left, was the first U.S. Marine and second U.S. service member to graduate from the course. He attended the Joint Warrant Officers’ Advanced Course, where the objectives were to prepare senior level leaders for senior strategic advisory positions, increase the students’ knowledge of regional security for the Pacific Southwest, and provide insight into the workings of the government. Charkowski, from Madison, Wisconsin, is the battalion sergeant major for 3rd Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. Keating is the chief of defence for the New Zealand Defence Force. (Marine Corps. photo by Cpl. Tyler S. Giguere/Released)

Photo by Cpl. Tyler Giguere

First ever U.S. Marine graduates New Zealand Command & Staff College

19 Nov 2015 | Cpl. Tyler Giguere 3rd Marine Division

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Sgt. Maj. Christian L. Charkowski, the sergeant major of 3rd Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, completed the Joint Warrant Officers’ Course here, Nov. 19, 2015.

Warrant Officer Class 1 Rob  M. McLean, an instructor at the college, verified that Charkowski was the first U.S. Marine to do so, and the second U.S. service member to graduate from any course here.

Approximately 100 students -- 20 coming from foreign militaries -- attend the college every year, McClean said.

Charkowski said knowledge gained during the course will help him lead his unit more effectively.

“I have gained a greater appreciation and knowledge of the strategic environment of the South and North China Seas,” said Charkowski, the battalion sergeant major of 3rd Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “I can now bring this to the Marines of my unit and pass on this information, making us more effective in the region.”

The course curriculum teaches students how to advise and support senior level leaders, and bolsters their knowledge of regional security in the Southwest Pacific. The course also gives students insight into the workings of different governments.

In addition to studying these topics formally, the students learn informally by sharing unique experiences. 

“Marine students make a big contribution to the course,” said McLean. “Charkowski brought operational focus based on experience that New Zealand does not have. He was a professional throughout his time in the course, and was a great ambassador for the U.S. Armed Forces and the Marines planning to attend in the future.”

Charkowski said he benefited from the experience of other students in the course as well.

 “I learned a lot from my classmates, as well as my instructors and the other nation’s militaries,” said Charkowski, from Madison, Wisconsin. “I know what makes them successful and what I can bring back to the United States Marine Corps for employment.”

Charkowski said the course allowed him to make long-lasting friends and connected him to people who can give him guidance and support in the future.

“It has been an honor for me to represent the Marine Corps, and I am a better sergeant major now than before I ever attended this course,” said Charkowski. “I think any sergeant major that does attend will get something out of this, and I highly recommend anyone to attend.”

Editor’s Note: In 1950, the Command and Staff College was established at Whenuapai, New Zealand, as a school for junior officers of the Royal New Zealand Air Force.