Thursday, March 24, 2011

‘Troops 2 Roughnecks’ takes drilling to new level

Marines on base attended Quantico’s first ‘‘Troops 2 Roughnecks” class March 9 at the Lifelong Learning Education Center. Roughneck is a slang term for people who drill for gas and oil.

The class, which trains Marines to drill gas and oil, is hosted by Troop Transition, whose mission is to significantly reduce post-military underemployment by providing training, skills development and credentialing service members to industry-defined employment specifications.

The company started at Camp Pendleton, Calif., said Troy Blank, vice president of admissions at Troop Transition. They offer three courses: ‘‘Troops 2 Truckers,” ‘‘Troops 2 Roughnecks” and ‘‘Troops 2 Energy.” ‘‘Troops 2 Truckers” trains Marines in the truck industry; ‘‘Troops 2 Roughnecks” deals with gas and oil drilling; ‘‘Troops 2 Energy” trains Marines for employment in the renewable energy industry. Currently, only ‘‘Troops 2 Roughnecks” is offered at Quantico.

Since its start, Troop Transition has spread to Twentynine Palms, Calif., Camp Lejeune, N.C., and now Quantico.

Bringing the courses to Marines is a collaborative effort, said Frank Pulley, president of Troop Transition and retired sergeant major. To come to Quantico, the company had to coordinate with base leadership, the Lifelong Learning Education Center, Marine Corps Community Services and Northern Virginia Community College, who acted as their accredited partner.

‘‘We couldn’t have done it without Susan McIntosh and everyone at the Lifelong Learning Education Center,” said Pulley. ‘‘We had a lot of help getting [‘Troops 2 Roughnecks’] here.”

Both Pulley and Blank were present for the first lesson, backing up instructor Mike Jones. Jones has more than 30 years of experience in the drilling industry to share with Marines.

The class, which Blank said could handle approximately 30 students, had five attendees. The small start is not discouraging, however. Pendleton also had a small inaugural class, but the last class Blank saw at the California base had more than 50 attendees.

These Marines will not only receive training, but will also have the opportunity to meet drilling companies interested in hiring them. They will also receive certifications for the International Association of Drilling Contractors and IADC Well Control, which will enable them to find jobs with drilling companies not associated with Troops 2 Roughnecks.

Approximately 96 percent of class graduates immediately find jobs, said Blank. These jobs include benefits, a good salary and time off.

‘‘That’s what it’s all about,” said Pulley, ‘‘Marines helping Marines.”

For those interested in enrolling, new classes will begin March 22 and approximately every 12 days after that, said Blank. Classes are covered by tuition assistance and have no cost to the students.

‘‘[The class is] a great tool and a great opportunity for those on the way to End of Active Service,” said Sgt. Caleb King, an administrative clerk with Headquarters and Service Battalion and a student in the first Troops 2 Roughnecks class.

To learn more, contact the Lifelong Learning Education Center at 704-784-3340 or go to