KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- Showing camaraderie with their battle buddies was more the goal than winning as Soldiers from an entire section from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command played pool Friday during Right Arm Night at the Irish Pub on Vogelweh Housing.

"We (officers, senior, junior and future NCOs) are all here," said Sgt. Teddy Mendez, from the 21st TSC Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, better known as G-2. "We all work - really hard - together every day, and it's great to get together on a Friday night and play a few games of pool."

Also playing a game or two of pool was Warrant Officer 1 Joseph Kaiser, also from the 21st TSC G-2.

"It's good teambuilding," said Kaiser, agreeing with Mendez.

Right Arm Night was hosted by the U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern as a kick-off event for the Year of the Noncommissioned Officer in the Kaiserslautern military community.

"It's called Right Arm Night because what you want to do is bring that Soldier who is standing to your right - the right arm that is connected to you, helping you get through daily missions - here with you to mix and mingle with other leaders who have brought their battle buddies with them," said the garrison's Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Jessup.

The secretary of the Army has designated 2009 as the Year of the NCO.
"We just want to acknowledge the fact that noncommissioned officers are doing great things and continue to do great things and this (yearlong observance) is how we can acknowledge that fact," Jessup said.

Kaiser, who was an NCO for more than half of his 10-year Army career, was at the kick-off event with his right arm - Sgt. Brian Meehan.

"Absolutely (this year designation is important) because NCOs are the backbone of the Army," Kaiser said. "NCOs are needed - they carry the mission."

Standing to Kaiser's right, Meehan said, "It's nice to give NCOs the recognition they deserve. Without NCOs, Soldiers end up lost."

The Right Arm Night, Jessup said, was a way to show other KMC Army unit leaders what can be done to give this year of the NCO "teeth." He explained, "A way for them to put their thumbs on the pulse to say we (Army leaders) are going to push this all year long."

His suggestions include making the community aware of the roles and responsibilities of today's NCO, and improving and increasing education, fitness and leadership programs for NCOs in this community.

Illustrating Jessup's point was the attendance of Army KMC leadership at the Right Arm Night: The KMC's Senior Mission Commander Maj. Gen. Yves Fontaine, 21st TSC commanding general, and his right arm, the 21st TSC Command Sgt. Maj. David Wood; Brig. Gen. Jon Miller, the 21st TSC deputy commanding general and 7th Civil Support Command commanding general, and his right arm, the 7th CSC Command Sgt. Maj. David Stading; and the Kaiserslautern Garrison Commander Lt. Col. Mechelle Hale, with her right arm, which was Jessup.

In addition, several Army KMC unit commanders and their right arms attended the event.

As for the pool game, winning may have been in the picture after all.

"We just beat our sergeant major at pool so of course it's a great night," said Meehan, who was joking, which many may say is a true sign of camaraderie.

(Editor's note: Christine June writes for the USAG Baden-Wuerttemberg newspaper, the Herald Post.)