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Space, missile Soldiers hold conference at Vandenberg

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Narofsky, from the United States Strategic Command, briefs military personnel here about cyber and space threats during a Senior Enlisted Leaders Training Conference here March 24. The conference was conducted to provide senior leadership with information about Department of Defense space programs. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christian Thomas)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Narofsky, from the United States Strategic Command, briefs military personnel here about cyber and space threats during a Senior Enlisted Leaders Training Conference here March 24. The conference was conducted to provide senior leadership with information about Department of Defense space programs. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christian Thomas)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The Army's Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command held its annual Senior Enlisted Leaders Training Course here March 23-27. 

Coming from posts as close as Colorado to as far as Japan, Army senior noncommissioned officers discussed everything throughout the week-long course from NCO evaluation reports to the impact of joint space operations on ground combat. 

"This is the best way to train our senior NCOs," said Army Command Sgt. Major Ralph Borja, the SMDC/ARSTRAT command sergeant major. "We pull them out of their units, out of their comfort zone, and all they do is spend the whole time learning, getting briefings, learning information." 

Keeping the briefings fresh and the NCOs engaged, the conference included panel discussions with former SMDC command sergeants major, as well as with Army Lt. Col. Shane Kimbrough, one of four astronauts in the Army. Army Command Sgt. Major James Champagne of the 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan., was another guest speaker. 

"(Sergeant Major Champagne) just got back from a recent deployment to Afghanistan," Sergeant Major Borja said. "He wanted to let our folks know how important our job was for dealing with space - satellite imagery or connectivity with communications. What we do helps the warfighter down on the ground." 

Moving the focus from the ground back to the air, Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Narofsky, command chief of the U.S. Strategic Command, also spoke with the senior Army NCOs. Chief Narofsky discussed current operations in U.S. STRATCOM

Thinking and working in joint environments, however, is nothing new for these Soldiers. 

"Having this (military occupational specialty) and this skill set we have to go to a joint environment, know joint talk and, especially in theater, we may work at a joint level," Sergeant Major Borja said. "Our ground missile defense folks have a piece of missile defense out here; we run all our stuff through the Joint Space Operations Center; and we have Army officers and NCOs mixed throughout Vandenberg. We think joint." 

Although the conference has concluded, the sergeant major said he wants his senior NCOs to "put this information in their rucksacks" and use it to be better leaders.