Each Service Plays Crucial Role, Military's Top NCO Tells Troops
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan, April 11, 2007 Just as an apple pie needs all the right ingredients to be good, the Defense Department needs the contributions of each service to succeed, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told airmen, soldiers and sailors here today.
Army Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, talks with servicemembers over breakfast April 11 at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, Japan. Defense Dept. photo by John D. Banusiewicz
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Army Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey likened the Defense Department to the pie’s crust, which holds everything together.
“You put the Army in, and let’s say that’s the apples, because it’s the largest service,” he said. “Then you put the other services in -- they could be the cinnamon, the sugar, the nutmeg or whatever you like in your apple pie. You cover it with the Department of Defense, which is the crust, then you bake it and you bring it out.
“If you’ve got all the ingredients right, you’ve got a good apple pie,” he continued. “But if you take out one of the services -- one of the key ingredients -- you have something that might look like an apple pie, but when you bite into it, it won’t be as good.”
The analogy applies not only to the notion of the services working together, he said, but also to the value of each servicemember’s role, regardless of specialty or duty location.
Gainey noted that this sprawling base, located on the island of Okinawa, 400 miles south of mainland Japan, is the largest U.S. installation in the Pacific theater. It is known as “the keystone of the Pacific.”
“That’s a very strong statement,” he said. “You’re in a vital area, and don’t let anyone tell you you’re not vitally involved in the global war on terror, because I guarantee you, you are.”
Air Force Col. Max Kirschbaum, commander of the 18th Mission Support Group, said the Air Force packs “unmatched combat air power” at Kadena. The Okinawa air base’s 18th Wing is the Air Force’s largest combat wing and features F-15 Eagle air-to-air fighter jets; KC-135 Stratotankers used for aerial refueling, cargo and aeromedical evacuation missions; two E-3A Airborne Warning and Control System, or AWACS, aircraft; and 10 HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters for search and rescue.
In addition to the wing’s 81 aircraft, associate units operate more than 20 permanently assigned, forward-based or deployed aircraft from Kadena. The base’s 18,000 Americans include soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, civilian employees and family members. Japanese employees and contractors raise Kadena’s profile to more than 24,000 people.
“But we don’t stay here a lot,” Kirschbaum said. He explained that Kadena units participate in various Joint Chiefs of Staff-level exercises and Air Force training missions such as “Red Flag” in Nevada and “Combat Archer” in Florida.
Kirschbaum said Kadena is known as the keystone of the Pacific because several significant capitals in the theater are within two hours’ flying time from the base, and every point of strategic importance in the theater -- whether it’s economic, social or military -- is within five hours.
But Kadena isn’t all about warfighting. Kirschbaum said the base is heavily engaged in community activities. He highlighted the Special Olympics as “the pinnacle (military/community) event in all of Japan and one of the most prominent, probably, in the Pacific theater.” In June, Kadena will play host to the Special Olympics for the eighth straight year.
“What started eight years ago with about 100 athletes has now grown to 1,100 athletes and almost 5,000 total participants,” he said.
Whether it’s working together on the Special Olympics or on the warfighting mission, Gainey said, today’s servicemembers can expect to work together more and more across traditional service lines. He called on junior and middle-grade soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines to “break the culture” of service parochialism.
“You’re the secret,” he told Kadena servicemembers. “Get away from the culture of saying, ‘I’m better than you, and you’re not as good as me.’ Look at it and say, ‘What can we do together to make it better?’”
He cited the Marine Corps’ practice of issuing weapons for the duration of basic training as a good idea that’s now being embraced by the other services. He recalled his days as an Army drill sergeant, constantly issuing weapons and taking them back until the next time they were needed.
Besides saving time consumed by issuing and returning weapons with every trip to the firing range, the Marine Corps’ practice has a benefit that is, after all, the objective of weapons training, Gainey said. “You get to know that weapon, and you learn to shoot vs. qualify,” he said. “We’re learning from each other.”
Gainey toured Kadena’s deployment processing center, 353rd Special Operations Group and an HH-60 static display this morning. After lunch with the base’s Airman and Family Readiness Center staff, he toured a site operated by the Army's 1-1 Air Defense Artillery Battalion, a Patriot PAC-III capable unit that recently relocated to Kadena from Fort Bliss, Texas. He then met with hundreds of servicemembers in an off-the-record town hall meeting and spoke at a noncommissioned officers academy graduation.