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NEWS | May 19, 2023

Joint, Multinational Senior Enlisted Leaders Emphasize NCOs’ Critical role in Indo-Pacific During LANPAC 23

By Sgt. ZaBaar Jones

Top Senior Enlisted Leaders (SEL) from the U.S. Army, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, and sister services gathered with multinational partners and allied ground force SEL counterparts throughout the 10th Annual Land Power in the Pacific Symposium and Exposition (LANPAC) on Oahu, May 15-18.

The presence and participation of these experienced and respected leaders during the Association of the United States Army’s annual symposium reflected an enduring commitment to building trust and increasing understanding of the vital roles NCOs play across the vast priority theater.

During day one of the event, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston joined retired Sgt. Maj. of the Army Dan Dailey for a fireside chat-style discussion focused on NCOs’ important impact in the region, especially through the emerging changes in modern warfare. Grinston emphasized that leveraging and maximizing these roles requires trust and empowerment from senior leaders and NCO involvement at all levels in joint and combined operations with partner nations.

"[NCOs] have great authority because our officers trust us. Never lose that trust. It is fleeting and could go in a second," he said. "This applies from the Sergeant Major of the Army all the way down to the sergeant.”

The chat touched on how experienced and skilled senior enlisted leaders hold positions of responsibility and are essential for the overall success of military operations, and highlighted how the decentralized empowerment of junior NCOs extends the lethality of front-line troops who are adapting to battlefield changes and achieving the commander's vision and intent with minimal command and control from senior leaders.

The message of building and maintaining trust through communication, education and mentorship continued during a SEL panel hosted by Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Brzak, the U.S. Army Pacific Senior Enlisted Advisor, immediately following the fireside chat.

The diverse panel included Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Hester, U.S. Army Futures Command; Fleet Master Chief David Isom, Indo-Pacific Command; Command Sgt. Maj. Robert H. Cobb, 8th Army; Command Sgt. Maj. Shawn F. Carns, I Corps, and Chief Warrant Officer Sanjee Singh, the Sergeant Major of the Singapore Army. They shared words of wisdom and answered questions regarding the Indo-Pacific as a critical place for modernization and innovation and NCOs primary role in those efforts.

"There are important things that are driving the future operating environment, such as urbanization, migration, politics, and financial markets," said Hester. "These are all things that the future of our environment is going to shape how we as an Army have the ability to fight and win in emerging conflict."

Isom added, "We are conducting integrated deterrence … If deterrence fails, we have the responsibility to be prepared to fight and to win because that's what the American people expect of us every single day."

The panel members all emphasized that success in the theater is contingent on the joint and combined relationships, readiness, and interoperability built and maintained together, and that NCOs are paramount to that strength.

Singh brought an important perspective to the chat and highlighted the innovative strategies and the use of technology his troops employ to sustain partnered exercises in their country where training area is extremely limited.

“[The Singapore Army] built a [multi-story] building with seven ranges inside, which gives us ranges day or night and is not bothered by the climate. We utilize technology to train smart because the young Singaporeans are tech-savvy, which aids us in assimilating personnel into the military. Training soldiers is critical because they make everything possible," he explained. “We issue all recruits a wearable device, a smartwatch. We track their heart rate during training and calibrate training so they have an appropriate physical state. We evaluate where recruits stand during their two years of service."

After an afternoon of one-on-one engagements, a group of multinational SELs spent day two of the symposium at an off-site event on Shafter Flats that featured a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities and training brief with the 9th Mission Support Command. The offsite focused on the concept that military exchanges are not limited to combat operations as the U.S. whole of government approach includes working together with allies and partners during emergency crises due to climate change or natural events. The SELs discussed logistical and medical capabilities their respective militaries provide interagency and intergovernmental organizations.

Every SEL engagement throughout the symposium reiterated the concept that modern conflicts are characterized by rapidly changing environments and evolving tactics, and the strength of the Joint Combined force across the theater rests on NCOs across all formations at all echelons staying integrated and trusted through all phases of all operations across the Indo-Pacific.