KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Members of Team Kadena's noncommissioned officer (NCO) corps came together for a week of Professional Military Education (PME) learning and training April 1-5, 2019.
These NCOs had the unique opportunity to speak with U.S. Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. Rick Winegardner, U.S. Forces Japan Command Senior Enlisted Leader, about the future of warfighting across the Pacific and how it will include U.S. servicemembers from all branches.
"The main reason these PME courses are essential to our deployment strategy is to build a stronger more ready force," said Winegardner. "We will always engage our adversaries with a combined force to maximize the synergies of each service ensuring we can project the effects we need in support of the National Defense Strategy. Being able to understand one another's capabilities and service cultures is the first step in building our joint teams for joint employment."
Winegardner continued by discussing how lessons learned in joint PME courses assist enlisted members beyond the battlefield.
"The relationships we build have a direct impact on our readiness," he explained. "I’ve seen more training opportunities and problems solved at the user level and joint PME courses are part of the bridge-work connecting our enlisted members with one another, opening up increased training and the development of our enlisted force. Even this last class, once they realized and focused on the commonalities and not the differences you could see a higher level of respect, a desire to do more together as well as learning from each service and service member."
Participants were tossed into classes with every service represented for the opportunity to discuss counseling and leadership techniques.
"Being able to grasp an understanding of how each service conducts operations at the E-4 through E-6 level was very interesting," said Staff Sgt. Daniel Mauricio, 18th Wing Command Chief executive assistant. "This seminar also created a forum for students to identify similarities and differences of each service’s leadership methods, counseling techniques, approaches to standard enforcement, challenges and how to they are handled."
With the military becoming more and more integrated in order to ensure mission success, leaders at every level must know and be comfortable operating in a joint environment.
"I thoroughly enjoyed my experience during this course," said Mauricio. "Having the opportunity to work and connect with fellow servicemembers in these environments is so valuable. It has developed new ways of thinking for me and broadened my perspective of how the Air Force piece fits into the puzzle. I also thought the instructors were well prepared and gained valuable insight."
Mauricio continued explaining he had acquired a larger sense of self-perspective and a massive appreciation for the other services.
"This course also allowed us to compare customs and courtesies, rank structure, standards, and values which will be extremely valuable in the event I fill a joint billet," said Mauricio. "Working alongside other services was the best part about this course. Identifying each services unique strengths and differences was fun and solicited productive debate in the classroom. From the time I joined the armed forces, I have always been told to network and this course helped me create meaningful relationships with my sister service counterparts."
The students didn't spend the entire course in a classroom however, for Mauricio, the best part of the course was the fitness challenge.
"By far, the U.S. Marines combat fitness test and the joint forces fitness events were my favorite aspects to the Okinawa Joint Experience," he said. "In my opinion, there is no better way to prompt collaborative problem-solving and build a cohesive unit than doing so through means of physical team building events like we did. I highly encourage anyone who is extended the opportunity to immerse themselves in any type of joint PME course or environment to do it. It will open your eyes and afford the opportunity to see where you and your service fit in to the big picture. You will also gain a further appreciation for fellow service members and what they bring to the fight."
"At the end of the day, we fight and win together," Mauricio stated.