SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia - Senior Sailors assigned to the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) shared ideas on military leadership with officers of the Royal Cambodian Navy (RCN) March 1 as part of Cambodia Maritime Exercise 2011.

Senior petty officers from Essex were given the opportunity to discuss leadership techniques and principles with 20 RCN commanding and executive officers whose average time in service was more than 20 years.

“I believe we gave them a different perspective on information they already knew,” said Cryptological Technician (Maintenance) 1st Class (SW/AC/AW/IUSS) Jason Zemlo. “I wanted to show them the structure of our leadership and how we adapt to the obstacles we face.”

Topics of discussion included core values, discipline, and scenario-based discussions on leadership challenges.

"They were quick thinkers," said Master-at-Arms 1st Class (SW/AW) Carlos Jones. "They had solutions to our leadership scenarios before I even finished the problem."

Even though the Essex Sailors were junior compared to their students, the RCN officers were grateful for the exchange of ideas.

“We in the RCN are very eager to learn from the American Navy,” said Lt. Cmdr. Sath Bou, deputy commander of Ship 7. “Normally, our training with the U.S. is limited to a few subjects, which makes this leadership exchange special.”

Bou, a veteran with more than 30 years time in service, also said that he would use the information presented to enhance and develop his unit.

Both groups of sailors were able to find a good deal of common ground through discussions on leadership approaches to various challenging situations.

“They were very focused on their mission and their people,” added Jones. “When we discussed the Navy’s core values, I found that their beliefs were along the exact same lines.”

The RCN officers also asked questions about how the U.S. Navy's chain of command functions and how much time U.S. Sailors spend at sea.

The leadership exchange was just one of a series of events in which U.S. Navy and Marine Corps personnel participated in during Cambodia Maritime Exercise 2011. The exercise is designed to enhance interoperability between the two nations.

During the exercise, U.S. Sailors taught courses in the English language and shipboard operations. The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit's medical staff also worked with their Cambodian counterparts to provide primary care services, dental care and optometry care to Cambodians in the Kampong Som province.