JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
The Robert D. Gaylor Non-Commissioned Officer Academy hosted a senior leader forum at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland April 19 made up of master chiefs from the Navy and Coast Guard, a sergeant major from the Army, a master sergeant from the Marine Corps, and a senior master sergeant from the Air Force.
The forum was the first of its kind for the academy to provide students with a view of how all military services work together in a joint environment.
The panel was chaired by Chief Master Sgt. Andrew Small, the Robert D. Gaylor NCO Academy commandant. Sitting in the panel were Sgt. Major Keyne Smith, U.S. Army North; Senior Master Sgt. Jonathan Curtis, 531st Intelligence Squadron; Master Sgt. Bradly Naukam, Marine Cryptologic Support Battalion; Master Chief Petty Officer Robert Meusel, Coast Guard Cryptologic Unit Texas; and Master Chief Petty Officer David Phillips, Navy Information Operations Command Texas.
The panel discussed topics including challenges faced when operating in a joint environment, the future of professional military education and strategic operations when working with near-peer threats.
Joint Base San Antonio’s broad mission footprint made it possible to assemble a diverse panel of senior NCOs, providing a unique opportunity to the 157 NCOA students and 31 cadre.
“The joint SEL was an opportunity for mid-level airmen to have a question-and-answer session with senior enlisted leaders from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, and Marines,” Smith said. “We provided career advice as well as input on how to navigate leadership and personal challenges while serving.”
Some of the knowledge imparted by the panel members echoed what is taught at NCOA. Subjects as building relationships, understanding and overcoming cultural biases, and remaining flexible and agile so we can complete the mission together were among those discussed.
The experience had extra meaning since the students were able to get some real-world answers from leaders who have worked in joint environments and, for the most part, wore different uniforms from them.
“We encouraged them to be good leaders, good people, and care about others,” Smith said. “Leadership at all levels is about caring for people, while helping them to grow and develop.”
“The three best lessons in NCOA were lessons I learned from the commandant and by talking to senior enlisted leaders,” said one participant. “Hearing from other branches senior NCOs about joint operations was eye-opening and not something I hear on a day-to-day basis back at my job.”