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Senior NCOs at LANPAC Say Trust Builds Respect

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Joint and multinational military exercises and operations put a premium on U.S. soldiers quickly gaining the trust and respect of other militaries, even when there is a language barrier, a panel of senior enlisted leaders said Tuesday at the Association of the U.S. Army’s LANPAC Symposium and Exposition in Honolulu.

The multi-service, multinational panel marked the first time during a senior non-commissioned officer panel as part of the annual meeting about landpower in the Indo-Asia-Pacific theater. Representatives of almost 30 nations attended the symposium, with international attendance at the standing-room-only Senior NCO panel.

The theme was common across the services and nations, working together has become the new fact of life for militaries and that it was the responsibility of senior NCOs to make certain it works.

“We are never going to face another fight along, by ourselves,” said Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell of U.S. Forces Korea. “We do a great job with vertical communication. We need to do better with horizontal communication, to get across those lines that get us out of our service and into the joint operations.”

Troxell said he has run a litter-carrying drill that helps to build those bonds, involving 10 men carrying a large American soldier over a long trek. They are certain to experience difficulties, he said, but “at the end, everybody feels part of the team.”

Command Sgt. Maj. James P. Norman III of I Corps, said figuring out how to work in a situation with cultural and language differences is what the Army faces in the future. “This is a human endeavor,” he said. “Everything breaks down to human nature, to people.” “We have to build a lot of adaptive leaders,” he said, “to what they find on the ground at that particular time.”

Warrant Officer Mark Mortiboy, the New Zealand Army sergeant major, said respect is something needed to build cooperation. “That is what we are doing now, either at symposium or in the field,. We need to spend as much time learning about friends as we do the enemy.” There was some practical advice provided. Lead Sergeant Daribish Oyunbold, the Mongolian Armed Forces senior enlisted adviser, said he believes “respect creates trust,” and that every person has a slightly different threshold for when trust is earned.

Socializing together is a good way of learning more about the character of other soldiers, Troxell said. “We all like to have fun the same way,” he said.