PARAMARIBO, Suriname – Members of the South Dakota National Guard, the Suriname Armed Forces and the Suriname Ministry of Defense participated in a subject matter expert exchange on non-commissioned officer professional development in Paramaribo, Suriname, in September.
South Dakota and Suriname, in coordination with U.S. Southern Command, established a successful security cooperation relationship in 2006 under the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program.
Since then, numerous exchanges have taken place between the SDNG and Suriname’s armed forces to share experiences and best practices in a variety of military training and topics.
“For this exchange we sent three of our top-performing NCOs,” said Lt. Col. Orson Ward. “The intent of the exchange is to further professionalize the NCO corps of the Suriname National Army and expose SDNG service members to working with other cultures as well as develop NCOs who are self-aware, adaptive, competent and confident.”
This exchange included service members Army Master Sgt. Marcus Frey, Air Force Master Sgt. Lori Hoop and Army Staff Sgt. Richard Watkins.
“This was my first trip to Suriname with the State Partnership Program,” said Watkins. “This was a great experience that gave me insight to how other countries develop their NCOs. We met with various officers and NCO’s from the Suriname Army who were conducting and instructing the jungle phase of their NCO course.”
The SDNG service members were able to observe how the Suriname Army survives in a jungle environment.
“We examined their methods of platoon unity and base camp operations,” said Watkins. “We learned how they adapted and survived in the dense jungle while maintaining team cohesion and motivation.”
The SDNG NCOs exchanged the favor by sharing their leadership techniques when it comes to deploying and leading Soldiers in combat.
“We briefed the Suriname Army on how we develop leaders within our organization,” said Watkins. “The way we conduct physical fitness, our diet and how to provide mentorship to young leaders.”
Not only do the service members learn more about each other’s culture they also develop how to teach Soldiers from another country.
“Any time you can learn different ways of leading others you will not only better yourself but also your team,” said Watkins. “I would recommend this exchange to other NCOs in our organization, not only for the learning aspect but also for a great teaching opportunity.”
Air Force Master Sgt. Lori Hoop was able to share her experiences from a female perspective.
“I was able to explain the South Dakota Air National Guard organizational structure, the positions females hold in the unit, the training and time in service requirements to become an NCO in the U.S. Air Force,” said Hoop.
She also explained the U.S. Air Force’s core values, Airman’s creed and general NCO responsibilities.
“I hope the NCOs were able to take away how the South Dakota National Guard is comprised of both Army and Air Force and how we work together,” said Hoop. “As NCOs we have a responsibility to not only accomplish the mission, but to take care of our Soldiers and Airmen. Through professional leadership and mentorship, evaluations and counseling, fitness and diet.”
Participating in the SDNG State Partnership Program is an experience Hoop says she will never forget.
“This was a mission I never thought I would have the opportunity to do,” said Hoop. “It was an honor to represent the 114th Fighter Wing as we exchanged ideas on NCO professional development with NCOs of the Suriname National Army…an experience I will not forget.”