Leadership News

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Face of Defense: Marine Credits Personal Accolades to Her Leaders

By Marine Corps 1st Lt. Samir J. Glenn-Roundtree 2nd Marine Logistics Group Public Affairs

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C., March 15, 2018 — Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Gabriela Gonzales’ hard work has resulted in her selection as the 2nd Marine Logistics Group’s Marine of the Year.

Gonzales, a combat engineer with 8th Engineer Support Battalion, has been in the Marine Corps for just over a year, but she has demonstrated exceptional potential.

The Texas native, previously selected as the group’s Marine of the Quarter, has been taking all in stride.

Striving to be ‘the Best Leader’

“I hit the fleet and I was lucky to be placed under really excellent leadership,” Gonzales said. “It’s not about an award; it’s about emulating my [leaders] and trying to be the best leader I can.”

Despite her reserved demeanor, Gonzales earned distinguished honor graduate recognition during boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island in South Carolina, indicating her performance has been turning heads since her first day in the Corps.

She’s also an astute learner with more than 100 credit hours toward a degree in cellular biology.

“She’s much more squared away that I was as a lance corporal; she has a strong work ethic,” said Marine Corps Sgt. Sheree Barrett, a combat engineer and squad leader with the 8th Engineer Support Battalion.

Barrett said Gonzales’ inquisitive nature and tenacity in applying what she learned was what stood out the most.

“She really impressed me in taking charge, asking the right questions. I just try to answer them to the best of my ability,” Barrett said.

‘She’s Great With Peer Leadership’

Platoon commander Marine Corps 1st Lt. Keith MacDonald said that he observed a noticeable difference in Gonzales’ performance between her first and second field exercises.

“She’s great with peer leadership; being able to guide her peers, make sure they understand things and are ready,” he said. “She’s an outstanding junior Marine, by far.”

Although her father, grandfather and multiple uncles have a record of military service, Gonzales says one of her biggest sources of inspiration has come from one of her best friends, an Army medic and veteran with eight years of service.

“I’ve seen her overcome extreme stresses that I couldn’t even imagine,” Gonzales said of her friend. “She definitely didn’t have an easy job either; she rucked more than most infantry Marines do -- and she’s tiny!”

Gonzales knew from the beginning she would pursue a combat-related military occupational specialty, but with only 24 credit hours remaining before she completes her degree, she’s weighing her future options.

“I’ve always wanted to go into medicine, but right now I love where I’m at,” Gonzales said. “This is definitely a potential career. I just don’t want to shortchange myself, and I want to leave the possibilities open.”

Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Wade Hayes, Gonzales’ platoon sergeant, said he’s confident she will do well, regardless of her ultimate decision.

“Her work ethic is above the rest and she never settles or decides to take the easy way out,” Hayes said. “Lance Corporal Gonzales’ potential is limitless; whatever she puts her mind to, she can go out and do.”

Gonzales will go on to compete for Marine of the Year for II Marine Expeditionary Force, but says her focus is on continuing to develop herself.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Karen Pershing Selected to Receive the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge, Renae McDermott, Knoxville Division, will present Karen Pershing with the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award, on March 9, 2018 at 1:30 p.m., at the FBI Field Office in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Since 1990, the FBI Director's Community Leadership Award (DCLA) has been a principal means by which the FBI has publicly recognized the achievements of individuals and organizations that make extraordinary contributions to their community.  Each of the FBI's Field Offices selects one individual or organization each year to receive this award.

The Knoxville Division honors Karen Pershing for more than 30 years of public health service and dedication to improving the health of the greater Knoxville community.

She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Metro Drug Coalition (MDC), an organization dedicated to improving the health of the greater Knoxville community by reducing the use of alcohol and drugs through policy, systems and environment change.  Under Pershing’s leadership, she established a Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force that has been recognized by both state and federal elected officials as a model coalition in bringing diverse leaders in medical and law enforcement together to create effective policy change, subsequently reducing prescribing and raising the standard of care for all Tennesseans.

Karen Pershing has been a staunch advocate for reducing the incidence of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), a condition in which newborns experience painful withdrawal symptoms shortly after birth as a result of the medications their mothers took during their pregnancies, through the development and implementation of the Born Drug Free Tennessee awareness and educational initiative.  As a result, Knox County saw an 18 percent decrease in the incidence of NAS births from 2015 to 2016 and the region surrounding Knox, saw a 12 percent decrease.  This is something that she is most proud of and will continue to not only be an advocate for these babies, but also for these young mothers to get the support and help they need to be successful.

By focusing on prevention, Pershing knows that our families and communities will be safer, healthier and economically prosperous.  No one is more committed to breaking the cycle of substance abuse and its devastating effects.

Other Accomplishments

  • In 2016, MDC and Pershing were instrumental in passing and or supporting five laws: pain clinic bill to strengthen requirements of a medical director, licensure of outpatient buprenorphine clinics, licensure of pain clinics, Prescription Safety Act of 2016, sunset of the fetal assault law passed in 2014.
  • In 2016, became the “Action Team” for the opioid reduction efforts of the Knoxville/Knox County/Town of Farragut’s Community Health Council.
  • In 2016, a partnership was established with the Knoxville Academy of Medicine Alliance to provide additional education and outreach.
  • In 2016, Pershing was the recipient of the Partners and Leadership Award from the Tennessee Public Health Association

Pershing will also be recognized by FBI Director Christopher Wray on Friday, April 20, 2018 at FBI Headquarters in Washington, DC.

For more information on the FBI’s Knoxville Division, visit www.fbi.gov/knoxville

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

U.S., Australian NCOs Share Leadership Philosophy

By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

SYDNEY, March 6, 2018 — Warrant Officer Class One Craig Egan of the Australian Defense Force deals easily with American noncommissioned officers -- they speak the same language, they go through many of the same schools, and they belong to militaries that have the same philosophy on the use of NCOs.

“That’s rare,” Egan said during an interview here. “Many countries do not empower the contributions of NCOs, and they are missing a significant opportunity to gain initiative and maintain agility on the battlefield.”

Egan is the command warrant officer for Australia’s Joint Operations Command based in Canberra -- meaning his appointment is the most-senior joint enlisted position in the Australian military. He presents enlisted members’ perspectives to the chief of joint operations, who commands all Defense Force personnel deployed on operations across the globe. He was in Australia’s largest city to meet with U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“The core belief of both militaries is that NCOs understand commanders’ intent and act within their authority to accomplish their missions,” Egan said.

It comes down to trust and education, he said. Australian and American NCOs are the backbones of their respective services. They are responsible to their commanders for the hands-on training and day-to-day leadership that service members receive. At the foundation level, they are responsible for enforcing standards and ensuring discipline. With increased rank and responsibilities, they are the eyes and ears of commanders while advocating enlisted perspectives and influencing early planning to assist decision making.

And they are trusted to do their jobs.

Different From Other Militaries

This culture does not sit naturally in all militaries around the world. In many military establishments, particularly the enlisted force with a conscript background, NCOs are simply those farther along in their terms. They are trained to act within a far more limited scope as determined by their officers, and this has a direct influence on how they develop as leaders in their own right.

In some other countries, enlisted personnel do not have the education to be NCOs -- the educated in those countries become officers. This structure may have some initial utility if a doctrine is based on ‘the massing of troops,’ Egan said, but is vulnerable when dealing with the complexity of the modern battlefield, which demands increasing levels of initiative in the small teams typically led by NCOs.

History shows that NCOs in authoritarian states tend not to be trusted to exercise initiative. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, the countries of Eastern and Central Europe reformed their militaries to emulate the enlisted forces of the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

The United States and Australia have fought shoulder to shoulder since World War I. Australian and U.S. service members fought through some of the toughest campaigns of World War II and in Korea. Australian troops fought alongside U.S. military members in Vietnam and Desert Storm, and they have been part of ongoing operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

And the two nations’ militaries have been and continue to be interoperable. The difference between the two nations is more in scale than in philosophy. “We’re a small, extremely capable and well-trained military. We can stand beside our U.S. peers on equal status,” Egan said. “We’re proud, and with humility, pretty good at what we do.”

The entire Australian military has about 58,200 active-duty personnel, 40,000 reservists and 20,000 defense civilians. The United States has a military establishment of around 3 million.

“It’s the sense of scale the United States brings, the ability to project force and bring in all the enablers around an operation,” Egan said.

Learning From Each Other

The Australian military has its own ways of doing things, Egan said. It mirrors that country’s experiences in the region, in operations outside the area and its military history. U.S. and Australian service members learn from each other in military schools, in exercises and in actual operations. “The levels of collaboration, cooperation and mateship are exceptional,” Egan said.

Egan used the biennial Exercise Talisman Sabre as an example where the two militaries learn from each other. “Talisman Sabre is a classic example of the U.S. bringing a larger force and a larger dimensions,” he said. The most-recent Talisman Sabre had 33,000 service members participating -- most from the United States.

“We cannot replicate with the amount of troops the amount of equipment, maritime platforms, the long-reach and the volume of [strategic] airlift that the United States has got,” Egan said. “Flying troops all the way from Alaska and parachuting them into the Shoalwater Bay Training Area -- that’s a phenomenal effort. That scale allows us to test our higher levels of command, control, communications, planning and integration both practically and synthetically.”

Egan’s story with Americans began in 1983 in Northern Australia at the Jungle Training Center in Tully as part of Exercise Tropic Lightning with the U.S. 25th Infantry Division. This was followed in 1989 as a junior NCO, when he trained with Australian, British, Canadian and American soldiers at an exercise at Fort Ord, California. “We were exposed to U.S. Marine amphibious operations, combat techniques in urban environments and more,” he said. “We were exposed to interoperability among those four nations.”

Increasing Levels of Responsibility

An Army sapper, Egan has served in increasing levels of responsibility. In 2004, he was selected as the Australian representative at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas. After graduating with Class 55, he stayed on as a faculty advisor. The nine-month course exposed him not only to the U.S. Army, but also to other U.S. military services and representatives from 39 other nations.

“The [U.S. Army Sergeants Major] Academy provided me the professional military education opportunity to lift my thinking above the tactical level and consider the operational and strategic implications. It made me a better senior enlisted leader,” Egan said.

In 2015, Egan attended the Keystone Course at the National Defense University and was the first Australian to participate in the field study package. “I was the senior enlisted leader to the Australian Deployable Joint Force Headquarters at the time; Keystone gave me affirmation of my role and responsibilities in a Joint Interagency environment,” he said. In 2017, Egan was invited once again to Keystone, this time as the second-ever International Senior Fellow.

Egan said he grew professionally and personally from these experiences. “I’ll say this: my nation’s own training got me to the level where I could integrate seamlessly and credibly,” he added. “[The Australian training] gave me the foundations. This is a small military, and it has exceptionally top-quality training. The [Australian] military puts NCOs in challenging jobs and expects initiative from its people.

“It’s the same as the American military,” Egan said.

The training helps ensure that NCOs “can positively interact with everyone,” from the most junior to the most senior in rank, he said.

Another mark of the U.S. and Australian military, Egan said, is that NCOs aren’t afraid to ask questions of the most-senior ranking members.

“It’s respectful, of course, but they can get the word directly,” he said. “Our enlisted forces know what’s important and what to ask their leaders; they understand these questions, or constructive inputs, can lead to better decisions. Critically, our leaders and commanders are willing to listen. You don’t see that in all militaries.”