FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii (March 1, 2012) -- Soldiers from the New Zealand Army attended Warrior Leader Course Feb. 1-24 at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

The Warrior Leader Course, or WLC, trains prospective and newly promoted sergeants of the active and reserve components in basic leadership skills on noncommissioned officer, known as NCO, duties and responsibilities. WLC also addresses the authority of NCOs and instructs on effectively conducting basic warrior tasks and battle drills.

Wearing the rank equivalent to Army sergeants, Pvt. Sean T. Spivey, an infantryman, and Pvt. Kieran R. Manaena, a supply technician, joined the Army's future noncommissioned officers in training at the invitation of U.S. Army Pacific Command Sgt. Maj. Frank M. Leota.

Leota visited the soldiers during their field training exercise Feb. 22 to talk about their experiences during the course and to give the soldiers a better understanding of the importance of developing the NCO corps.

"We don't teach sergeants, we refine them," Leota said. "We refine what these sergeants have already been trained and developed on everyday and ensure that we haven't skipped a beat."

As an example of NCO development, Leota explained that the technology used at the NCO Academy was a great part of the educational program, but emphasized "sergeants train sergeants" and when equipment fails, it is the responsibility of the NCO to get "back to the basics."

Spivey and Manaena both agreed that what they experienced at WLC is "way" different from the way they train at home. They said they will take a lot of what they learned with them to share with their soldiers; in particular Army leadership, drill and ceremony and military customs and courtesies.

Everyone is a lot more formal when talking to NCOs said Spivey.

"We have a lot more freedom where I come from when we talk to each other. I'm impressed by the respect shown here," Spivey explained.

Unlike the work day of an American Soldier, Spivey said his days are not so long.

"I'm not used to waking up at 4 a.m. that's for sure," Manaena said.

"They are doing extremely well, according to their grades and Manaena shares a wealth of information with us all, and keeps everyone in a high state of morale," said Staff Sgt. Gabriel R. Payne, Manaena's small group leader of at the NCO Academy.

"I've learned a lot from my squad members and the instructors are pretty good. It's a big change, but a good change, and everyone helps me along the way," said Manaena.

The NCOs from New Zealand were taught how to make quick decisions under stress and "mirror" the Army NCO corps -- "the best NCO corps in the world," said 1st. Sgt. Frank S. Salajcik, the commandant of the NCO Academy.

The future of the Pacific relies on the partnerships and friendships, said Leota.

"You are our partners in the Pacific," he told Spivey and Manaena.

Junior leaders are empowered with the authority, autonomy, and responsibility that they will take on as NCO's Leota said.

"As the USARPAC command sergeant major, I will continue to ask and request international students to attend WLC to expose them to the way we train and develop the future leaders of our Army."