LIVORNO, Italy – Airmen, Soldiers and Italian military members learned more about the international role of noncommissioned officers as the 731st Munitions Squadron hosted “Backbone University,” a recently held professional development seminar at Camp Darby.
The class, named after a National Defense University Press book called “The Noncommissioned Officer and Petty Officer: Backbone of the Armed Forces,” was held in July. It highlighted the important role NCOs play in the U.S. military and in international roles, said Senior Master Sgt. Richard Shonder, Materiel Flight Chief, 731st Munitions Squadron.
“On this occasion we wanted to highlight integration by inviting facilitators from the Air Force and Army as well as Italian Army personnel,” Shonder said.
The goal was to provide perspective and knowledge across NCOs from a variety of sources through facilitated presentations and guided discussions.
“We delved into roles and responsibilities of NCOs in the profession of arms, and the history behind that,” Shonder said. “We covered topics about how NCOs are stewards of the institution, how they complement officers and enable the force. We discussed international roles, and gained Italian Army perspective from facilitator CMCS (Caporal Maggiore Capo Scelto) Giacinto Tufilli from the Italian Base Command.”
This was the first multinational and joint service professional development course for NCOs at Camp Darby.
“It is very important that young NCOs realize the importance of interoperability, in a multinational environment, collaboration is the backbone,” said facilitator Lt. Col. Miguel Flores, Commander 405th Army Field Support Battalion, Africa. “I am glad I had this chance to share my international experience with such a broad audience today.”
Flores underlined how the behavior of each single individual both while on duty or off duty must reflect the principles of the United States Army, always maintaining the highest standards.
“This was a great teaching experience that helped to gain wisdom and understanding from the lives lived through our seniors both enlisted and officers,” said Staff Sgt. Dale Herbin, 405th Army Field Support Battalion. “The seminar offered a learning atmosphere free to ask questions, hear other point of views and share work experiences between our military branches.”
Young NCOs appreciated the opportunity to gain perspectives from and strengthen bonds between our sister service NCOs and host nation partners with the Italian Army.
“I enjoyed learning not only about how different AFSC’s and other branches handle problems, but also how they view NCO leadership in general,” said Tech. Sgt. Jared Stell, 31st Maintenance Squadron Aviano Air Base, Italy.
“The relationship between NCOs and their superiors and subordinates is intricate and I learned how every individual deals with everyday situations differently," Stell said. "Overall, I gained a lot of foresight and leadership knowledge from this class."