YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- Twenty Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and U.S. Navy (USN) sailors graduated the first Bilateral Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) Leadership Continuum held at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY), Japan, July 21.
The class was made up of 10 USN and 10 JMSDF sailors in the Yokosuka area. Topics ranged from professional growth and development to command climate and family support programs.
"The U.S. Navy's success has always been how we train and empower our junior enlisted Sailors; it's something that other nations have recognized," said Command Master Chief Joseph Fahrney, Naval Forces Japan/Navy Region Japan (CNFJ/CNRJ). "A couple years ago, my JMSDF counterparts asked me to look at their NCO training program and see what I thought they could improve. But I found myself wondering what we could incorporate from their curriculum into ours, which is how the bilateral NCO continuum was formed."
In Japanese training the teacher, or sensei, is highly respected and it is considered impolite for students to interrupt or ask a lot of questions, Fahrney said. Contrasted with this one-way approach to teaching, the U.S. training style engages students more and places emphasis on students participating and asking questions.
With Japanese classrooms being generally more quiet and disciplined, Fahrney thought the Americans would benefit from more focus while the Japanese would benefit by participating more and asking questions.
Sailors from both sides expressed great interest in the class' topics.
"Discussing barriers for women in the workplace was the most challenging, but also the most interesting topic," said Master-At-Arms 2nd Class Chelsea Graham, assigned to CFAY Security. "There were so many different views, even amongst the U.S. Sailors, not to mention the JMSDF Sailors who come from completely different backgrounds. I enjoyed hearing everyone's interpretation of the issues and how we came together as a team to create one grand solution."
Apart from discussing the serious nature of class topics, one of the course objectives was to foster relationships between the sister services much earlier in a sailor's career.
"I think having a softball game and a barbecue at the end of the first day really helped us break the ice; we had a lot of fun and really connected with our JMSDF partners," said Information Systems Technician 1st Class Barron Fludd, who was the top student and honor graduate among USN students.
According to Fahrney, CNFJ and the JMSDF leadership plan to continue the program by hosting multiple classes in the coming year at all Navy Region Japan installations.
"I've never really thought about these problems," said the Japanese honor graduate, Air Traffic Controller 2nd Class Kotaro Tonami, assigned to destroyer JS Ikazuchi (DD 107), "but this class gave us the opportunity to discuss and think about those issues. It was an incredible experience that I will keep with me as I continue my career in the JMSDF."
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