Sunday, August 14, 2011

Face of Defense: Air Guard NCO Graduates From Army Course

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Leisa Grant
National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 12, 2011 – Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Chris Roper is the first Air National Guard member to graduate from the in-residence Sergeants Major Course at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas.

Roper, security forces manager with the Oregon National Guard’s 142nd Fighter Wing, graduated June 18, one of 327 graduates.

Roper said he now has a better understanding of how senior military leaders make weighty decisions.

“Now I see the ‘bigger picture’ at the operational and strategic level,” he said.

The bigger picture changed after the 9/11 attacks against the United States.

“Since 9/11, the necessity for the National Guard to operate in a joint environment with active duty forces has never been more important,” said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Denise Jelinski-Hall, senior enlisted advisor to the chief of the National Guard Bureau.

“The more opportunities we have to train and learn together,” Jelinksi-Hall said, “the more efficient and effective we will be at home and abroad in accomplishing the mission.”

The Air National Guard’s leadership encourages senior enlisted leaders to attend joint professional military education courses like the Army’s Sergeants Major Course. The course educates Army master sergeants and sergeants major, as well as senior enlisted members of other services and components, in full-spectrum operational and strategic operations to prepare them to be successful leaders in any environment, according to the course’s mission statement.

Roper’s class was the first go through an extended 10-month curriculum. The course had been nine months long since 1995.

“The Sergeants Major Course underwent a major transformation last year, with a tougher curriculum heavy on critical thinking and problem-solving, intense college-level reading and challenging writing assignments,” said Army Command Sgt. Maj. David L. Yates, director of the Sergeants Major Course.

Roper said the Sergeants Major Course was the first professional military education course he has attended as a resident.

“My biggest mistake was not attending other academies in-residence,” Roper said.

While other Air Guard members have completed the Sergeants Major Course as nonresidents, some senior enlisted leaders believe there are benefits to attending in-residence.

“In-residence attendance is an important element in the development of our future leaders,” said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. James Hotaling, command chief of the 142nd Fighter Wing. “Although I recognize our unique citizen-airman culture does not allow everyone to participate, we must make every attempt to ensure we give our airmen a chance to attend at least one resident course in their career.”

While Roper had the support of his wing, the process also involved the very top enlisted leaders of both the Air Force and the Air National Guard. His selection began with a nomination by Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Muncy, the Air National Guard’s command chief.

Muncy said Roper was selected out of six other Air Force members, both active duty and Guard. The process for selections begins in the office of Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy, who believes the Sergeants Major Course benefits all airmen, regardless of their component.

“We are a nation at war,” Roy said. “Our success depends on the Total Force engagement. Any education that enables our airmen -- be they active duty, Guard or Reserve -- to better perform their mission is an example of a joint service solution. Simply put, the better educated and trained we are, the better we perform. It makes sense to develop all of our airmen to the best of their abilities.”

Muncy agreed.

“It’s huge for force development for the Air Force and for us -- and that ‘us’ isn’t just the Air National Guard,” he said. “It’s the big ‘U.S.’ -- the one on our uniforms that stands for the United States.”

Roper said his experience at the Sergeants Major Course brought this to light.

“No matter what branch of the service,” Roper said, “it’s no longer [just] your branch you should be concerned with.”

Understanding the Army’s culture and soldier development process better prepares senior enlisted airmen for future joint operations, Roy said.

“Attending the Sergeants Major Academy provides our senior NCOs with critical operational and strategic perspectives in terms of the profession of arms,” he said.

However, learning goes both ways.

“It also presents an opportunity for the active component to better understand the National Guard, and vice versa,” Jelinski-Hall said.

Roper’s attendance at the Army Sergeants Major Academy as an Air National Guard representative was an opportunity for him to work alongside coalition forces and to highlight the missions and ideals of the Air National Guard, said Air Force Col. Michael Stencel, commander of the 142nd Fighter Wing.

“As an Air National Guard ambassador, Senior Master Sergeant Roper returned home with a wealth of knowledge that he will be able to share with the entire Oregon National Guard,” Stencel said. “In a time of tight budgets and shrinking forces, it seems that now, more than ever, these cross-cultural experiences will pay huge dividends well into the future.”

Northwest Sailors Promote Environmental Stewardship

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Scott A. McCall, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Det. Northwest

INDIAN ISLAND, Wash. (NNS) -- Sailors from Navy Region Northwest helped local Native American tribes seed 3 million manila clams along the beaches of Naval Magazine (NAVMAG) Indian Island Aug. 9-11.

The seeding project is part of a larger agreement between the Navy and the local Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest to recognize the tribes' rights and satisfy the Navy's mission requirements while sharing shorelines.

This particular project is a seeding mitigation effort related to the installation of a port protection security barrier for the ships and submarines, said Bill Kalina, NAVMAG Indian Island environmental site manager.

"We entered into a 10-year memorandum agreement to seed their tribal beaches, so the money they lose from crab and shrimp is recuperated down here with clam," said Kalina. "This is a beach that they would normally harvest from for manila clams."

The seeding process improves clam growth density, allowing the tribes to harvest heavier bags of clam.

"It's like stocking a fish lake," said Kalina. "You can go to fish a lake and you'll catch a few fish. You stock it and you can catch tons of fish."

Six beaches on Indian Island have been labeled as tribal harvest beaches, allowing the tribes to seed and harvest those particular beaches every year of the agreement. The tribes will "farm" more than an acre a year, checking on the clams every year until they're ready to be harvested, which usually takes about three years, said Kalina.

"It's like farming crops," said Kalina. "You rotate your crops. It's the same thing at the beach. This is actually shellfish aqua culture."

This year, the project started Aug. 1. For three days, tribal members and Navy personnel staked out predator nets along the beach. Then Aug. 9, they began seeding the protected areas.

"There are ducks and crab that like to come in and eat the baby clam, so these nets provide a higher rate of survival," said Kalina.

The opening of Indian Island's beaches allows tribes to harvest shellfish, such as the clams seeded this week, for the purpose of subsistence.

"It helps a lot because the tribal members harvest commercially for their existence and for ceremonies, so the more resources available for them is the extra income," said Viviane Barry, shellfish program manager Suquamish Fisheries Department.

"It's a tradition that's been going on for thousands of years," said Barry. "Tribes have been living off the tide lands in Washington State and it's a tradition that they want to continue."

Indian Island has had a long-standing relationship with the local tribes. The installation has partnered with the tribes for decades to mutually agree on policies and procedures to achieve both the Navy's mission as well as preserve the tribes' cultural traditions and harvesting rights even before any federal requirement or mitigation were discussed, Kalina said.

"They're water people and we're a water mission agency, so we have that in common," said Kalina. "We can keep the Navy running and supply the fleet with ordnance and weapon storage here, but we can also maintain the eco-system here and provide the tribes here harvest treaty rights."

In 2003, the Navy established the Northwest Navy-Tribal Council, which provides a means for ongoing collaboration between the Navy and 24 federally recognized tribes in Washington State, according to Kalina. The Navy and tribes share unique federal "usual and accustomed" shoreline rights in the Puget Sound area. Mitigation projects -- like clam-seeding at Indian Island -- help support these mutual interests within the Navy's third-largest fleet concentration area.

"We want to be good neighbors. We work well with the tribes and we always have," said Cmdr. Gary Martin, NAVMAG Indian Island commanding officer. "The Navy does a great job with all the tribes in Puget Sound. We just want to continue to have that good relationship."

Seeding and harvesting manila clams on Indian Island may also provide additional environmental benefits to the surrounding community.

"One of the main goals of the tribes is to maintain the water quality where the water quality is good enough where you can have open harvest areas," said Barry. "Second is to improve the water quality in areas where's there's pollution, or you can identify the pollution sources and correct them, so eventually you can open more beaches."

The local tribes participating in the project are the Suquamish from Poulsbo, Wash., the S'Klallam from Port Gamble, Wash., and Jamestown, Wash., along with the Lower Elwah Klallam from Port Angeles, Wash.