by Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Matwey
166th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
11/27/2012 - 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
"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
"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
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
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.