European Chief Master Sergeant Leadership Symposium

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Steven Adkins
  • USAFE-AFAFRICA Public Affairs

Aviano Air Base hosted a first-of-its-kind event, the European Chief Master Sergeant Leadership Symposium, tailored at providing region-specific training to future Senior Enlisted Leaders of allied and partner nations’ Air Forces.

“The symposium was created as a way to provide our partners with education and a skillset that we, as the U.S. Air Force, feel is very valuable for Chief Master Sergeants to possess. We also hoped to foster an environment of learning and idea sharing among the future top enlisted leaders among our partners,” said Chief Master Sergeant Benjamin Hedden, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa Command Chief.

The symposium was a two-week, 80 academic-hour course that encompassed topics ranging from interpersonal relationships, strategic thinking, to fostering international relationships with 32 enlisted leaders from 18 different nations including the United States in attendance.

“The course overall is perfectly set,” Chief Master Sergeant of the Slovenian Air Force, Chief Master Sgt. Bostjan Bervar said. “The topics are just right for our level and do not distinguish between different career fields in the air forces because all of us can find a relevant topic that was presented to us.”

Warrant Officer Stewart Thorpe, station warrant officer of RAF Leeming said, “It’s been extremely diverse working with our co-nations and NATO, understanding fundamentals of leadership and how we can adopt that in our own scenarios.”

The USAFE-AFAFRICA Enlisted International Affairs Management team worked closely with the course developers and managers at the Chief Master Sergeant Leadership Academy at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

“We were able to see how different countries approach problems, how they think,” said Chief Master Sergeant Marek Sukovsky, Senior Enlisted Leader, 51st Helicopter Wing, Air Force of the Armed Forces of the Slovak Republic. “It was really good to see and hear how different countries approach problems and solve them.”

This symposium was focused on bringing to bear the full weight of the enlisted force on any problem set. A large part of the course focused senior enlisted leaders advising commanders at the strategic level, in order to give them the ability to make the best decisions possible.

“This course helped me to spread my horizons and understanding of the enlisted structure,” said Senior Master Sgt. Yevhen Kretov, 40th Air Brigade tactical aviation, Ukrainian Air Force. “The biggest thing I’m taking away from this course is to know and understand the intent of the commander and be able to pass that down to the lowest ranking enlisted personnel so everybody will be on the same page.” 

This inaugural event was very successful and positively received by all in attendance.

Senior Master Sgt. Andrii Shyiatiyi, 299th Tactical Aviation Brigade, Ukrainian Air Force, said, “I think this course is a wonderful idea and I wish we had more international courses like this where we can learn how to collaborate together.”

“When we come together to learn and train together, we enable the sharing of ideas in a way that doesn’t often happen. I know that the Americans in the room, both instructors and students, learned just as much from our international partners as they did from us,” Hedden said. “As a result, there are 32 individuals from 18 nations who are now better prepared to combat today’s challenges & fight tomorrow’s wars through shared ideals and partnerships. This event is crucial to the joint multinational warfighting effort, and we are all very excited for the next one.”

The Chief Master Sergeant Leadership Symposium is on track to become a recurring event throughout all overseas regions; U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa, Pacific Air Force, Air Force South Command and Air Force Central Command.