By Mary Markovinovic
Chief, Public Affairs

Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies”Since the beginning of the Global War on Terror, it’s become increasingly important for non-commissioned officers of all services become more aware of the operational and strategic environment,” says U.S. Pacific Command’s senior enlisted leader.

PACOM’s Sgt. Maj. William T. Kinney, USMC, recently attended the graduation of 24 Fellows from the Junior Executive Course at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. For the first time, two U.S. senior enlisted leaders were part of the course, which is tailored for O3-O4 and civilian equivalents. The four-week course focuses on U.S. policy and provides an introduction to culture, politics, protocols and challenges in key countries in the region.

“There is truly an NCO renaissance happening,” said Kinney. “Senior level leaders are now including their senior enlisted in strategic decisions.” This makes the type of executive education provided by APCSS especially important.

“They (policy makers) are beginning to realize that strategic communications is a core function. This course provides the tools to better view the Asia-Pacific region and develop messages that could really influence the region,” said Sgt. Maj. Yolanda D. Choates, I Corps and Fort Lewis Public Affairs sergeant major and a Rosharon, Texas native.

“I’ve learned an incredible amount about our government, government policy, the interaction between countries, and the complexity of the geo-political area,” said Sgt. Maj. Scott A. Egan, the I Corps EO sergeant major and a Detroit, Mich. native.

The Fellows also had an opportunity to work with the Fellows of Executive Course through joint plenary sessions and the guest speaker program.

“The interaction among the Fellows itself was educational. We gained from their expertise and the knowledge they have by virtue of the positions they held,” added Egan.

“The workshops were a real plus,” according to Choates. “It required us to think ‘out of the box’ and interview other Fellows from other countries to try to develop policy. Ordinarily, as a senior enlisted service member, we are not asked to develop policy – just execute it. Now I have a much better understanding of U.S. policy and decisions made. This course allowed us to view issues from different strategic and cultural standpoints.”

The course is also timely for the I Corps Fellows as their headquarters is looking at a future transition from Fort Lewis to Japan. A date for the transition has not been set.

“The course has greatly enhanced our understanding and ability to operate more effectively at both the operational and strategic levels regarding regional and global security issues. Sgt. Maj. Choates and I are ready to return to I Corps with a much greater degree of knowledge and understanding of Asia-Pacific security issues that will surely benefit the command,” stated Egan.

The addition of senior enlisted to the Junior Executive Course was a test to ensure that this type of course would be beneficial to the senior enlisted community. A final decision is still pending, but according to these first two senior enlisted Fellows, it was “educational and enlightening.”