RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --
It’s not very often that command chiefs, first sergeants, career assistance advisers, and Airmen Leadership School commandants from around U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa are able to gather together to share best practices and network with each other, but during the third annual Senior Enlisted Leader Summit held in early November, they were able to do just that.
The SEL summit provided a collaborative environment to discuss updates to programs affecting USAFE – AFAFRICA Airmen.
“Leaders never stop learning,” said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Brion Blais, USAFE – AFAFRICA command chief, as he addressed SEL participants. “You are all in key positions across your wings to influence the further development and professionalism of Airmen. You continually pour your knowledge and energy into those around you…this is about learning how to keep that cup full.”
The attendees were key influencers who can amplify information across the force and are in critical enlisted positions at their respective wings.
During the first day, attendees were presented with an overall USAFE – AFAFRICA mission brief, and then each wing command chief provided a mission brief about their installation.
“The briefs were important because they helped demonstrate where we are going as a major command and how the wing missions complement and support each other across the theater,” said Blais. “For most of the attendees, this was the first time they had been exposed to this information and it is incredibly important that they share the knowledge with Airmen at their wings.”
Blais said that he wanted the participants to take this information back and not just pass it on, but show Airmen how their efforts are part of something much larger than themselves.
“Some may look at the accomplishments of the day, the number of cars through a gate or a replaced part on an aircraft, and marginalize their efforts,” said Blais. “However, when you get a glimpse of the bigger picture, it is easy to see how truly important ever Airmen’s role is; our Airmen not only enable operations at their wing, they are truly critical to missions happening across USAFE – AFAFRICA every single day.”
On the second day of the summit, each career field in attendance was afforded the chance to network and discuss updates to their specific career field.
“Coming to the SEL summit gave me a perspective that is more than I usually get at the tactical level, specifically at ALS,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Dustin Taylor, Aviano ALS instructor. “Coming here and working with key leaders from USAFE – AFAFRICA gave me a more operational and strategic perspective that I can translate down to the lowest level leaders -- the first line supervisors.”
Throughout the summit, retired Chief Master Sgt. Juan Lewis, known as the “Fired-Up Chief,” acted as a senior mentor.
“You have to continue to push the envelope and leverage different programs where you can get out there and get better,” said Lewis. “This summit was an opportunity for everyone to come out and get better and hopefully what they are taking out, they’re going to go out there and push it out to their installation and make their installation better.”
In addition to networking and collaboration opportunities, the SEL summit also gave the Airmen a chance to exchange best practices.
“The rapid exchange of ideas and the ability to highlight a best practice and implement it across the command is essential to further developing our Airmen,” said Blais. “If something is working really well, share it. It doesn’t have to come up to the MAJCOM to be beneficial across the command.”
In the end, Blais said the summit was extremely successful and is looking forward to the next iteration. In the meantime, he hopes the leaders share the information they learned with their Airmen and revitalize the force within their sphere of influence.