OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. —
Junior-enlisted military members from the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force participated in the inaugural Junior Enlisted Professional Development Seminar, here, July 19-20, to enhance knowledge and awareness of their responsibilities and capabilities in a joint environment.
During the seminar, 50 junior-enlisted assigned to U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), the 55th Wing, the 557th Weather Wing and other units on Offutt Air Force Base discussed a variety of topics related to joint operations from USSTRATCOM non-commissioned officers (NCO) and petty officers and had the opportunity to hear the perspectives of and ask questions to USSTRATCOM senior leaders including U.S. Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of USSTRATCOM, and U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Patrick McMahon, USSTRATCOM senior enlisted leader.
During his remarks, Hyten reminded the junior-enlisted members of their importance and the leadership roles they play in the United States military.
“You should know [our enlisted corps] is the thing that sets our military apart from every other military on the planet…,” Hyten said. “The rest of the world, it doesn’t matter whether you’re an ally or an enemy, an adversary, a competitor or a friend, no body puts the responsibility we do on the shoulders of our youngest people. That’s just the way it is, so that’s a pretty exciting thing. We are asking you to step up and understand what that is.”
One of the many topics covered during the seminar was leadership.
“We’ve covered a lot of leadership topics that I think apply to all of the branches [of service] as well as having some very good examples from each branch on how our leadership topics are different between the branches,” said U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kenneth Henson, USSTRATCOM Command, Control, Communications and Computer Systems Directorate cyber network operator.
Additional topics covered during the seminar included junior-enlisted roles and responsibilities, mentoring, military traditions and history, educational benefits, and customs and courtesies.
McMahon explained that while the seminar teaches leadership skills, the attendees are already leaders.
“You’re not a future leader, you’re a current leader in your organization,” McMahon said. “When you look at us as enlisted leaders that’s just a continuum in your development path. I think when we raise our hand to defend our nation we are instantly leaders within our organization and there is a path to develop us all, this is one of those steps in that path.”
U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Jacob Simmons, USSTRATCOM Global Operations Center warning systems controller, helped plan the seminar, and added that the event is great for collaboration.
“The services get to understand each other,” Simmons said. “I feel like after the seminar they’ll feel more comfortable approaching another service member of a separate branch and that can lead to mission success in the long run.”
Henson explained how the seminar helped attendees grow as leaders.
“One of the most important things about having an all-volunteer force from all over the country is getting people with different backgrounds to work together especially here at a joint command like USSTRATCOM,” Henson said. “It’s really important that we as junior enlisted prepare ourselves to go into leadership roles. We don’t want to come into being a staff sergeant or a corporal or whatever it may be blindsided. We want to have these leadership tools in our tool box before we get there so we can hit the ground running as a good NCO.”
In the seminar McMahon also stressed the importance of a noncommissioned officer’s role in training junior enlisted professionals.
“When I look over my career today, I will be completely candid and honest with you, it’s because of noncommissioned officers,” McMahon said. “The fact that you have NCOs leading this [seminar] is spot on. We get developed on the backs of noncommissioned officers.”
Simmons knows the importance of mentoring the junior-enlisted force.
“I definitely wanted to have the opportunity to start this out and provide for the junior enlisted,” Simmons said. “This is something I wish I would have had the opportunity to attend as a junior-enlisted military member].”
USSTRATCOM has global responsibilities assigned through the Unified Command Plan that include strategic deterrence, nuclear operations, space operations, joint electromagnetic spectrum operations, global strike, missile defense, and analysis and targeting.
For more information, contact the USSTRATCOM Public Affairs Office at 402-294-4130 or USSTRATCOMPA@mail.mil or visit www.stratcom.mil.