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Japanese sergeants overcome obstacles learn Marine Corps’ leadership

Date Posted: 2004-04-15

CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan — Two sergeants from the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force embarked on a 10-day transformation when they began the Corporals Course, Division Schools, 3rd Marine Division here March 15.

As the second group of JGSDF service members to go through the course, Sergeants Waka Nishioka, engineer, Bridge Company, and Eiji Ando, infantryman, 301 Heavy Mortar Company, graduated March 26 along with 25 U.S. Marines and Navy Seabees.

“I wanted to see what Marine Corps training was like, and mainly to learn about leadership,” Nuskioka said.

With the course curriculum focused on personal leadership, troop leading steps, general leadership, military justice, substance abuse, enlisted information, and training management, the JGSDF sergeants learned what it takes to be a leader at the non-commissioned officer level in the Marine Corps. One of the ways the students learned these leadership skills was through close order drill and the sword manual.

“Our first taste of the Marine Corps was learning the sword manual,” said Nuskioka. “We have drill in our military, but learning how to use the sword was something new for us.”

From a perspective outside the Marine Corps community, Marines are often viewed as being the toughest of the tough because of their peak physical condition and discipline.

“Before I came to Camp Hansen, I was a little afraid of Marines,” Nukioska said. “Not anymore though; they've been so friendly to us during the course.”

Starting the mornings off with a typical Marine Corps physical training routine of running, pull-ups and sit-ups was new for the Japanese sergeants.

“We were surprised that PT starts in the morning. We usually start PT after work and it's only done individually,” Nuskioka said. “The biggest difference between our services is the motivation level. Marines are always motivated.”

At one of the afternoon PT sessions the students ran the obstacle course as a team making sure everyone completed each stage, learning that sometimes people need a little extra motivation to push them to their limits.

“Group exercises really motivated everyone as we always helped each other to make it through,” said Nukioska.

Staff Sgt. Larnell G. Mills, operations chief, Division Schools said once individuals successfully complete the Corporals Course, there’s often a difference in the way they carry themselves and work with their fellow service members.

“When we first got them (JGSDF sergeants) here, their greatest strength was their language ability,” said Mills. “But throughout the course, their greatest strength became their adaptability. I would teach them something and they would practice, practice, practice, until they picked it up.”

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