Fighting together

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Every branch of service has its own unique capabilities, a fact that may be forgotten in the day-to-day operations of a single branch. The joint Okinawa experience professional military course aims to remedy that problem.

Enlisted leaders from across Okinawa joined forces for a week-long joint professional military education experience to learn the mission of their fellow service members.

“The Okinawa joint experience has opened my eyes to a lot of different things,” said United States Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Otto Tallerico, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 36 avionics staff non-commissioned officer in charge. “This is my first professional military education seminar where it included working with other branches and seeing what it is they bring to the fight. I never really saw what the Air Force was running for combat operations in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Talking to these chiefs, and learning the capabilities contributed has been a great experience to see how much support you’re getting as you move forward when the flag goes up.”

Participants received a lesson on the strategic importance of the mission on Okinawa. Senior enlisted leaders from across the island gave a briefing about the joint mission and working together.
“We get so invested in our own services that it’s a good idea to branch out to the other services and see what’s going on and get to know our counterparts,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Chad Rowe, master at arms, commander fleet activity center Okinawa.

Subsequently, the class received the opportunity to tour different branches’ military installations.

“Every day we did a different branch of service, going through what kind of operations they conduct, doing physical training, and other types of training they conduct,” said Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Shaw, launcher platoon sergeant, 11th Air Defense Artillery. “The opportunity to do a course like this is amazing, because whenever we deploy, it’s never going to be alone.”

Five days of travelling and learning together gave each member an appreciation of their fellow service member and their component in the joint mission.

“Seeing the Patriot missile launcher was the highlight of the experience for me, just to see that we have something like that makes me feel incredibly safe on the island, and on top of that knowing that the Air Force is watching the skies at all times,” said Tallerico.

With every branch doing their specific job and ultimately working toward the same goal of peace in the Pacific, the exercise really encompasses the idea of “one team, one fight”.

“I think it’s the way of the future to learn about the struggles that other branches have and what we can do as a team to overcome those obstacles and become a better fighting force, I think it’s key to overcoming some of our limitations,” said Tallerico.