Leaders from each of the Department of Defense military branches to include the Coast Guard, joined together for the National Capital Region Joint Professional Development course at the National Defense University, Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington D.C., May 10.
The Joint Professional Development course was created to expand service members learning opportunities by integrating a joint context through enhancing the individual's ability to operate in a joint environment. The instructors consisted of senior enlisted leaders who represented each branch of service.
"It is very rewarding as a senior enlisted, and as a Marine, to not only teach to a large class but to receive feedback from the junior leadership on what is going on within the entire DOD to include the Coast Guard," said Marine Corps Master Sgt. Jimmie Cuevas, adjutant chief. "As instructors we are building relationships amongst ourselves, and cross pollinating our thought processes."
Each instructor was assigned a team of service members, which created a diverse environment among the branches of service. The members were split into five teams, each represented a branch of service, red team: Marine Corps, green team: Army, silver team: Navy, blue team: Air Force and gold team: Coast Guard.
Cuevas said the rationale behind five teams instead of one collective team allowed them to have smaller groups.
"Having teams allows for small focus group discussions, with the ability to look at each branch of service through a different lens, and respect what each other's branch does for our nation," Cuevas said. "We all took the same oath, to serve and protect. The key part of the focus group discussions consists of cultivating critical thinking, critical leadership development; in topics such as cultural diversity, standards and discipline, ethical dilemmas, and customs and courtesy."
As a part of the course on the second day, each group participated in a field meet. The purpose of the field meet was to build comradery and break down service identities to ensure the teams worked together jointly. This also fostered an environment for the branches to interact with one another.
"I learned a lot at the course, it helped me better understand and appreciate the culture of the other branches; their way of thinking, how they function, and the rolls they play as individual branches of the military," said Marine Corps Cpl. Victor Zagal, an administrative clerk.