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Allied airmen meet and exchange ideas during Cope North NCO panel

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Enlisted leaders participating in Exercise Cope North 2014 from the Royal Australian Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force took time away from exercise operations to meet with Andersen Airmen during an NCO engagement panel on Feb. 27.

The panel allowed NCOs from the U.S., Australia and Japan to discuss common experiences as well as learn about the unique ways NCOs from each nation are charged to carry out their duties.

"This was the coolest thing I've ever done in my career," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Cameron Leslie, 36th Force Support Squadron career assistance advisor and organizer for the event. "We normally do NCO enhancement seminars throughout the year, but because of the timing of Cope North, we really had a unique opportunity to include our Pacific partners."

Discussion topics ranged from how discipline is handled in each service to fitness standards, annual evaluations, and unique ways of motivating troops under their command.

"Motivation is important and it's sometimes broken, so officers and noncommissioned officers are tasked with keeping it up," said RAAF Sgt. Matt O'Callahan, an aircraft maintenance NCO. "We have periods of high workloads and low workloads, and during low flying periods, we get to know each other outside of work and that helps us build bonds."

The representatives from the JASDF noted the unique difference in Japanese culture, where the standard workweek does not leave much room for personal time. Because the self-defense forces put in long days throughout the year, leaders must find ways to keep motivation and discipline high.

"We have one shift, usually about 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., and we have to make sure jobs get done and everyone is concentrating," said JASDF Tech. Sgt. Aiba, an explosive ordnance disposal technician. "In the past we would teach 'physically,' but now things are changing and we teach by demonstrating the task and watching troops complete them."

Working with subordinates, providing training, mentorship and focus is a major daily task in the RAAF as well, according to an Australian warrant officer who took part in the panel.

"It's important we take an interest in what they do and continue to teach the chain of command and show that it works; take problems up and give an answer back to the troop," said RAAF Warrant Officer John Youd, the RAAF senior enlisted representative at Cope North. "I've been doing this for 35 years and I can tell you the professionalism of the force has continued to grow from when I first started with the Royal Navy and transitioned to the Air Force all those years ago."

Staff Sgt. John White, a 36th Medical Operations Squadron paramedic, said "I really appreciated the opportunity to meet with these NCOs during the panel. It was interesting to note the similarities we share as NCOs in air forces despite being from different countries; some things are obviously different but it was fascinating to see how many things were the same."

O'Callahan agreed.

"I had a great time," he said. "I was really interested in the ability to compare the problems we share as enlisted leaders along with some of the unique things all NCOs face, regardless of nationality."