Backbone of the Armed Forces: Joint NCO course enhances leadership, confidence

Army Sgt. Brian Pool, course instructor, leads physical training during the Joint Non-Commissioned Officers Course, 3-14, Feb. 8, 2014. Physical Training

Army Sgt. Brian Pool, course instructor, leads physical training during the Joint Non-Commissioned Officers Course, 3-14, Feb. 8, 2014. The Joint NCO Course was comprised of members from all four U.S. military branches, as well as two Soldiers from the Djiboutian Armed Forces. While the curriculum of the joint course met all the requirements for the traditional Marine Corps Corporals Course, it also included lessons on how each service contributes to the joint team. It is designed to enhance leadership, mentorship, and confidence in NCOs.  Pool is team lead for Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa Military Information-Support Operations.

The 44 service members who graduated from the Joint Non-Commissioned Officers Course, 3-14, recite the Joint NCO Creed at the culmination of the ceremony Feb. 18, 2014. NCO Creed

The 44 service members who graduated from the Joint Non-Commissioned Officers Course, 3-14, recite the Joint NCO Creed at the culmination of the ceremony Feb. 18, 2014. The creed was recently written by seven service members deployed to the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, and emphasizes the idea that by using the strengths of each Service, we are stronger, more efficient and more effective in accomplishing the mission at CJTF-HOA. The joint NCO course is designed to enhance leadership, mentorship, and confidence in NCOs.

Class members from the Joint Non-Commissioned Officers Course 3-14, plot out points on a map during land navigation Feb. 7, 2014. Land Nav

Class members from the Joint Non-Commissioned Officers Course 3-14, plot out points on a map during land navigation Feb. 7, 2014. The Joint NCO Course was comprised of members from all four U.S. military branches, as well as two Soldiers from the Djiboutian Armed Forces. While the curriculum of the joint course met all the requirements for the traditional Marine Corps Corporals Course, it also included lessons on how each service contributes to the joint team. It is designed to enhance leadership, mentorship, and confidence in NCOs.

Corporal Aboubaker Moussa, front, and Sgt. Omar Said, Djiboutian Armed Forces soldiers, learn drill-and-sword manual during the Joint Non-Commissioned Officers Course, 3-14, Feb. 8, 2014. Drill 2

Corporal Aboubaker Moussa, front, and Sgt. Omar Said, Djiboutian Armed Forces soldiers, learn drill-and-sword manual during the Joint Non-Commissioned Officers Course, 3-14, Feb. 8, 2014.  The course was comprised of 36 Marines, three Soldiers, two Sailors, one Airman and two FAD Soldiers. While the curriculum of the joint course met all the requirements for the traditional Marine Corps Corporals Course, it also included lessons on how each service contributes to the joint team. It is designed to enhance leadership, mentorship, and confidence in NCOs.

Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines work together every day at Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) to counter violent extremist organizations in East Africa through military engagements with partner nations, so it only makes sense those service members would also train together to become better leaders.

On Feb. 17, 2014, 36 Marines, three Soldiers, two Sailors, one Airman and two Djiboutian Armed Forces Soldiers graduated from the Joint Non-Commissioned Officer’s Course at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.

While the curriculum of the joint course met all the requirements for the traditional Marine Corps Corporals course, it also included lessons on how each service contributes to the joint team. It is designed to enhance leadership, mentorship, and confidence in NCOs.

“One of the most important responsibilities we have is to lead,” said Sgt. Maj. Bonnie Skinner, CJTF HOA command senior enlisted leader. “We must provide our service members the education whether we are in garrison or forward deployed. The education is constant, passed from member to member and always by example.”

The 140-hour course included of academics, war fighting skills, physical training and drill-and-sword manual.  The course was a combined effort of CJTF-HOA and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. It was comprised of students led, coached and mentored by seven sergeant instructors.

“This is the second time I’ve conducted this joint course at Camp Lemonnier, and it just keeps getting better,” said Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Charlie Rowe, course director. “It was great to get participation from all four services, as well as having the Djiboutian Soldiers join us in the course.  This has allowed for a unique training opportunity. The mission is accomplished by all of us working together, and this joint course is a incredible way for the students to learn about the different strengths of the other services.”

For the students who were not Marines much of what they learned was new to them, but as the days progressed service lines quickly dissolved into a singularly focused team.

“During the course it was challenging to follow Marine Corps standards,” said Cpl. Adrienne Carson, CJTF-HOA military information-support operations specialist. “The most challenging part of the course was the physical training because it was extremely vigorous. The most rewarding part was the leadership training. I have learned how to be a better NCO through this course.”

While the two Djiboutian soldiers had to overcome a language barrier, it was mitigated by Army Sgt. Stephanie Bodogh, CJTF-HOA Command Element, who speaks French and doubled as both a translator and course instructor.

“The Djiboutian Soldiers did really well,” said Bodogh, who taught classes during the course on Army specific topics such as Army Career Progression and Values. “They talked to the other students and everyone made a lot of effort to engage with them.”

According to Bodogh, Sergeant Omar Said and Corporal Aboubaker Moussa said the best part of the course was just being there with everyone and having that military-to-military interaction every day. “Sgt Chef Omar was very social and on every break you could find him laughing with the other students. Moussa was quieter, but opened up more when the students conducted drill on the turf field. He said the physical training was a struggle because it was really hard, but the other students always rallied around him to give encouragement and he was glad he did it.”

Bodogh also explained that throughout the course she would see their faces light up when certain subjects were brought up. They enjoyed hearing about U.S. military culture, and had the opportunity to share what they know with the other students.

Most of the Marine students and instructors had never seen the Corporals course conducted as a joint course, but they were excited to share Marine customs and traditions.

“I volunteered to be the lead instructor for this course because I like training NCOs and giving them the tools they need to be resourceful,” said U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Obie Dubose, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit operations NCO. “The integration of this course has gone smoothly; the joint environment is a great place to learn.”

Overall, the course was a success and the students graduated with a greater knowledge about not only the Marine Corps, but also about being a leader in the U.S. military.

“I’ve mostly worked in a tactical environment so it was great to learn about other career fields and the garrison side of the Marine Corps, such as the rules and regulations,” said Cpl. Andre Kanicka, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit infantry rifleman. “I was excited to be a part of the joint course because I have only worked with a couple of the other services and this will help us all to be well rounded.”

Skinner explained that this joint course is an example of not one, but many ways of working as a team. By building and strengthening the team it has created lasting relationships founded on trust and collaboration.

“They have the mindset ‘I am part of the team as much as I am your leader.’ They focused on unity of effort, respect for one another and worked together to overcome all obstacles. CJTF-HOA and the 13th MEU are dynamic and reliable organizations known for integrity, synergy, and effectiveness in every endeavor,” Skinner said. “We forge relationships and build partnerships just like these NCOs, who are dynamic, reliable and pride themselves on integrity and synergy and as a result are effective in all they do.  They have created partnerships and forged relationships in this course.  And it is not just about relationships, it is all about relationships.”

“Every one of us joined the service we did for a reason and we are proud we did,” Skinner said. “While in this Joint environment, being able to learn from the different service cultures and traditions is only going to make our team stronger and more effective.  Tell me, who doesn’t want that?”

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Training Partnership Djiboutian Armed Forces NCO 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit

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