By Staff Sgt. Andrew R. Ishmael, 135th Military History Detachment, Missouri Army National GuardFebruary 27, 2009
CAMP OHYANOHARA, JAPAN -- It is always special when a Soldier is promoted, but it is an honor and a privilege when he/she is promoted to the NCO ranks by a senior NCO whom they respect.
The 83rd Ordnance Battalion, 10th Support Group welcomed another noncommissioned officer into the corps Feb. 1. Sgt. Raul Gallegos was promoted to sergeant during the bilateral field training exercise Orient Shield, and he asked to have Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) Command Sgt. Maj. Tsunemi Eto , 8th Division, participate in the pinning ceremony. Gallegos said he was honored to have Command Sgt. Maj. Eto take part in his promotion.
The 83rd Ordnance Battalion is part of the 8th Theater Sustainment Command.
"I got to know the Self Defense Force (JGSDF) members very well, and since I was working with them for several exercises, I thought it would be a great idea to have the JGSDF participate in my promotion," Gallegos said.
Gallegos has participated in exercises Yama Sakura, Orient Shield, and Pacific Reach with the JGSDF and said he has developed a deep respect for the professionalism and dedication shown by the noncommissioned officers in the JGSDF. The promotion has drawn attention to the increasingly important role of NCO's in the JGSDF. The Corps of Noncommissioned Officers in the JGSDF officially adopted its command sergeant major program of education in April 2008. According to Sergeant Major of the Ground Self Defense Force, Katsuo Shimoasa, the move was necessary for JGSDF enlisted members' success.
"We have realized that we have to mentor soldiers and NCO's," Shimoasa said.
Like his U.S. counterparts, Shimoasa believes command sergeants major are the key to a professional NCO Corps. Command Sgt. Maj. William P. Franklin, United States Army Japan, has made professional development of the members of the JGSDF Noncommissioned Officer Corps one of his top priorities. Franklin takes this responsibility very seriously - assisting and advising his counterparts as asked as they continue to grow a unique, JGSDF Command Sergeant Major program that strengthens its NCO Corps and mission capability.
"It takes twenty years for the U.S. Army to grow a Sergeant Major," says Franklin, "and the JGSDF is doing it in a much shorter time."
Franklin said he has much respect for the dedication, discipline and effort put into the task of re-forging the JGSDF NCO Corps. He travels all over Japan giving leadership classes and has developed close personal friendships with the five regional armies' Command Sergeants Major. Additionally, the JGSDF NCO Corps sends two sergeant majors to United States Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas each year. These sergeants major return to Japan and pass their knowledge and experience on to other NCO's in the fashion of 'training the trainer'. These bilateral exchanges and relationships are the foundation of U.S. Army Japan's mission and presence in its host nation.
"I hope that this feeling keeps going and this relationship between Japan and the US keeps growing; and maybe one day a US Army Sergeant Major will be asked to pin a member of the Ground Self Defense Force," Gallegos concluded.