By Sgt. Kimberly MenziesMarch 1, 2017
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii - Leaders with the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, U.S. Army Pacific, participated, Feb. 13 to Feb. 16, 2017, in Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Foley's Leader Professional Development Week.
The week was planned as a way to emphasize leader development and to encourage employing different techniques to effectively develop leaders at all levels.
"Readiness is the number one priority of the Army and when you talk about readiness you really can't have ready units--ready Soldiers--without properly developed leaders and Soldiers," said Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Foley, the command sergeant major of the 94th AAMDC. "Technology will only take you so far, it is your people--your Soldiers-- that really make the advances for our Army and our Nation."
Many times the emphasis of leader development is demonstrated through a single event, Foley considers it an unremitting plan.
"Leader development is a continuous strategy, really a daily thing whether you do it formally through NCO inductions, ceremonies, classes, vignettes, or in an informal manner," expressed Foley.
During the four days, leaders in the unit conducted and participated in informal and formal leader development events across all ranks and military occupational specialties.
"I like to conduct LPDs that combine the officers, warrant officers and NCOs," shared Foley. "I think it is more powerful than doing an independent, stove-pipe session. Let's face it when you do an NCODP no one else knows what we are doing. When we incorporate everyone not only is that ambiguity eliminated, but you are also all learning from each other."
The informal portion of the week was conducted through conversation and shared military experience. The formal portion of the week consisted of a physical activity event, a noncommissioned officer induction ceremony and a staff ride.
"The vision was to do something in the physical domain--some [physical readiness training] that would challenge most leaders and NCOs, to do something to recognize newly promoted NCOs and incorporate a portion were we learned about our local military history here, where we came from and how that translates to what we do in the unit today," said Foley.
Strenuous Physical Activity
For the physical activity event, NCOs and promotable specialists conducted an early morning run up Radar Hill at Fort Shafter, Hawaii. The run, which began prior to sunrise, initially had to be illuminated by ChemLights to prevent possible injuries due to limited visibility.
"After conducting preparatory drills, we ran a few miles on Radar Hill," shared Sgt. Geysi Johnson, the property book office NCO with 94th AAMDC. "It definitely was not what I would call easy. It was my first time on Radar Hill and when I turned the corner on the road to start on the trail, I looked up, saw the incline lit up with ChemLights and I swear my legs groaned--but to have accomplished running that hill felt great."
NCO Induction Ceremony
The second formal element of CSM Foley's LPD week was an NCO induction ceremony to recognize several of the newly promoted NCOs within the unit.
An NCO induction ceremony is a historical rite of passage for enlisted leaders where the new inductees sign and accept the NCO Charge, heed The Soldiers' Request and are bequeathed their leadership duties and responsibilities.
"Inducting NCOs into the NCO Corps is important to celebrate their accomplishment while emphasizing their duties and responsibilities," said Master Sgt. Ronald Quinata, the current operations noncommissioned officer-in-charge with the 94th AAMDC. "Advancing by becoming an NCO in the Army is a milestone that needs to be celebrated."
According to Quinata, being an effective NCO is more than receiving an increase in pay and having the ability to give orders to Soldiers. He believes NCOs have a responsibility to take care of Soldiers and their families. A good NCO will mentor Soldiers and NCOs to become leaders.
"Ceremonies like this serve as a reminder of the weight and importance of the NCO Corps," continued Quinata. The duties and scope of being an NCO need to be truly understood so that leaders continue to develop their subordinates to be better than they are."
"Becoming an NCO was one of my main goals when I decided to enlist in the United States Army," shared Sgt. Nathan Thompson, an inductee and the all source production NCOIC with the 94th AAMDC. "My feelings about being able to fulfill that goal cannot be accurately described with words. Capable and competent NCOs are what allow the Army to be the best army in the world. Our guidance and leadership are required to ensure mission success and I am honored to be part of the back bone of this organization and to accept all the responsibilities that are essential to that role."
The third event of the LPD week was a staff ride, which incorporated all levels of leadership, officers, warrant officers and NCOs. During this portion the Soldiers visited several locations that were memorialized following the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II.
"During the staff ride, we were given in-depth briefs on historical lessons learned from the attack on Pearl Harbor that launched the United States into World War II, the significance of leaders taking action and stepping up in the absence of orders to protect civilians and fight back at Pearl Harbor, which ultimately led to America's victory in the Pacific," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Heather Sheltrown, the command control systems integrator in the automations directorate of the 94th AAMDC.
Leaders who attended were bussed between the USS Missouri, the USS Oklahoma Memorial, the USS Utah Memorial, the Hangar 6 site, and the USS Arizona Memorial.
At each location, an NCO provided a brief on the historical significance of the site and how leadership played a role. During the visit to the USS Missouri, leaders were even treated to a guided tour of the ship.
"The staff ride gave me more of a personal feeling of what it may have felt like back in 1941, all the way through to the signing of the treaty onboard the USS Missouri in 1945," added Sheltrown.
"I was impressed with the knowledge and expertise that the NCOs displayed while briefing the leaders of the 94th [AAMDC] about the history of Pearl Harbor pre and post December 7th, 1941," shared 1st Lt. Elle Taylor, a personnel strength management officer with the 94th AAMDC.
Overall leaders across the board professed to have enjoyed Command Sgt. Maj. Foley's LPD Week, but did those who participated truly capture the significance?
"I think that leaders, of all ages and ranks, can relate to the lessons that were taught during this event and relate them to what could happen in today's world and events that surround us," explained Sheltrown.
"I also think that NCOs can relate the stories that were told about heroism in the absence of orders back to the third paragraph of the NCO Creed --'I will exercise initiative by taking appropriate action in the absence of orders,'" she continued. "It's also important that officers, warrant officers, and NCOs conduct these events together in order to build cohesion and a mutual understanding of leadership together. Even though we are different ranks and belong to different cohorts/corps, we are all still leaders."
"I think it is extremely important to learn from the mistakes of the past in order to prevent them from happening again, and to build upon the successes in order to implement those actions today," explained Taylor. "It is extremely humbling to see all of the memorials of the brave service members and civilians who lost their lives on that infamous day. I think these events allow us to take a step back from our busy lives and to see the bigger picture of why we all answered the call to serve our country."
Investing in Human Capital
Taking a vested interest in developing leaders is not only essential but has proven to withstand the test of time.
"There is a lot of investment that goes into beneficial leaders," said Foley. "The reason I am where I am today is because the people who helped mold me invested their time and energy.
"You have to be willing to invest in your human capital-Soldiers. You have to invest in them and it has to be a continuous investment. It is essential to maintain that continuous investment in order to get a large return on the performance and effectiveness of your leaders."
Regardless of how one choses to examine or specifically conduct leader development, it is beneficial and necessary to the mission.
"The purpose of this event is really about enabling our leaders to develop each other and themselves while getting to know one another," said Foley. "It ultimately is about really developing our skills in order to be confident and competent leaders with strong moral character that can truly face the challenges and threats that we have today, here within the theater and globally."