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CENTCOM hosts Joint Senior Enlisted Leaders Conference

September 10, 2018

Senior enlisted leaders from U.S. Central Command, five National Guard units, and eight regional partner nations gathered for the CENTCOM Joint Senior Enlisted Leaders Conference Sept. 4 – 7 in Tampa, Fla.

The conference was an opportunity for senior enlisted leaders to gain a better understanding of the region and explore ways to empower and develop their non-commissioned officer (NCO) ranks while building a network of multi-national senior enlisted professionals.

“This forum is all about building relationships that enable all of us access to NCO training and development,” said U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Edison Rebuck, Office of Security Cooperation Iraq.

During the four day event, representatives from each of U.S. Central Command’s component commands and senior enlisted leaders from Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, all had the opportunity to share their respective insights on NCO development, as well as answer questions from their counterparts.

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U.S. Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander, U.S. Central Command, addressed the attendees via teleconference and spoke about CENTCOM’s concept of ‘command and feedback’ that is driven by a cycle of continuous communication up and down the chain of command.

“The idea here is to make sure that people at the lower end of the chain of command have the same awareness and alignment, and are acting the same as the people at the top end of the chain of command, said Votel. “We continuously communicate things like our understanding of the situation, the threats and risks to our forces, and then the commander’s intent.”

The value of efficient communications throughout the ranks was a theme throughout the conference.

“Communication is the key to the success of any military,” Said Command Sgt. Maj. Haider Al-Blooshi, Senior Sgt. Maj. of Land Forces, United Arab Emirates. “Through face-to-face discussions, like these, within our own community of senior enlisted leaders from the U.S. and other countries, we can measure the level of success of our own enlisted force and learn of new ways to improve.”

One way that the U.S. military has assisted with enhancing partner nation enlisted leadership is through the National Guard’s State Partnership Program. The program links National Guard units of various states with partner nations in support of security cooperation efforts.

Command Sgt. Maj. John Raines, Mississippi National Guard senior enlisted leader, whose state’s National Guard partners with the Uzbekistan army explained some of the benefits of the program.

“Both of our countries forces maintain a schedule of continuous military-to-military engagements with one another, which forms a genuine working relationship,” said Raines. “During combined exercises, their leadership sees the benefits our NCOs bring to the table. This, I believe, influences their own desire for NCO development.”

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This is the first year U.S. Central Command has hosted the annual event.

“Your contributions through thoughtful dialogue and study of current and emerging security challenges have furthered mutual understanding of the security environment and contributed to strengthening the relationships between the represented armed forces in attendance,” said U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. William Thetford, U.S. Central Command’s senior enlisted leader.  “We operate as a multi-national team within a complex environment and recognize the importance of developing and empowering our junior enlisted service members.”