By Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Matwey , 166th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 20, 2012
MCGHEE-TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tennessee -- A Delaware Air National Guard flight engineer attended a class this past summer with nearly 40 participants from half-a-dozen fellow NATO countries at McGhee-Tyson Air National Guard Base, Tenn., and for him it was a unique learning experience that he relishes and recommends to fellow members.
Senior Master Sgt. Mike Murphy of the 142nd Airlift Squadron, part of the 166th Airlift Wing based at the New Castle ANG Base, Del., attended the week-long International NCO Leadership Development Symposium (INLEAD) from July 8-13, 2012, with groups of NCOs attending from Canada, Germany, Australia, Switzerland, Netherlands, France and Great Britain to learn with their American counterparts. The North Atlantic Treaty was founded by 12 countries in 1949, and at present NATO has 28 members.
"For me it was a great opportunity to interact with other NATO countries' military personnel, learn about their military culture and some of their operations," said Sgt. Murphy.
The seminar aims to increase senior NCOs knowledge of the host nation's decision-making models through activities that are focused on exposing interoperability issues to ensure future mission success on the battlefield.
"Having the opportunity to interact with other partner nation senior NCOs and learning how and why they make certain decisions," was the best part of the experience, said Sgt. Murphy. "It was fascinating to learn about how their cultures influence their decision-making process."
"The most challenging part is to remain open to other ideas that normally would not be acceptable of doing things in the U.S., but that may be acceptable in a foreign country," said Sgt. Murphy. "Letting go of the way things have always been done, and adapting a new, and sometimes questionable way of doing things, isn't always easy."
"We work, train and fight in coalition groups," said Command Chief Master Sergeant of the Air National Guard Christopher Muncy. "No longer are we just the U.S., out there solely with just with our Canadian, British, or Australian comrades...there's a whole lot of other folks within it. So you might as well train the way you're going to go to the fight."
Sergeant Murphy had a few takeaways after reflecting on his experience. "The exposure to new ideas and learning about how other nations view and interact with the U.S. was enlightening, especially within the military environment."
Sergeant Murphy said participants also engaged in hands on-exercises to evaluate different perceptions and ideas on how to accomplish an objective. "A problem was given, and theories to accomplish these objectives involved different aspects, such as focusing on speed or strictly outcomes. Then explanations were given on why each person chose that particular way of doing things, and whether their culture was believed to be an influence on that decision," said Sgt. Murphy.
In one such exercise, Sgt. Murphy and a NATO service member had to figure out a puzzle with multiple shapes and various solutions. The process, said Sgt. Murphy, "helps to demonstrate the various external factors that influence a person's decision making process."
Sergeant Murphy believes the learning environment was also good for our NATO allies.
"The members from the other NATO nations really enjoyed the visit to the United States. The folks at TEC (I.G. Brown Training and Education Center at McGhee-Tyson ANGB) did a great job hosting the event and provided great opportunities to explore the U.S. and Tennessee culture."
In addition to teaching host nation perspectives, the seminar encouraged leadership dialogue and provided practical techniques to more effectively manage common leadership challenges experienced by NCOs. Topics discussed included conflict management, situational leadership, and leading diverse temperaments.
International participants shared their perspectives.
"I think it's great to have coalition forces together," said Sgt. Darren Edwards, a master chief with the Royal Air Force, in Oxfordshire, U.K. "Being with the different nations, the more nations you get the more you learn to be a stronger force."
"As a participant from a very small country, it's an outstanding opportunity to be invited," said Swiss Senior Master Sgt. Erwin Zuger. "It's interesting to find out a lot of things are the same."
This seminar was hosted by ANG Command Chief Master Sergeant Christopher Muncy under the responsibility of the Committee on Leadership Development of the International Air Reserve Symposium. It was the eighth time the seminar has been held, each time at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center at McGhee-Tyson ANGB.
According to the ANG TEC, the aim of INLEAD is to expose IARS participants to the host nation's partners' interoperability issues to enable future mission successes on the battlefield. During INLEAD 2012, students explored operational processes, leadership theories and practices through discussions and lectures.
It is not an easy road to apply or get accepted into the seminar. The ANG Training and Development Division requires that all applicants be either a master sergeant or senior master sergeants, and only five seats are available to the ANG. And, the division recommends that a unit's best performers are submitted for consideration.
Note: This article includes material from an article titled ANG hosts 2012 INLEAD symposium, by Airman 1st Class Nichole Grady, 153rd AW, Wyoming ANG.