European Senior Enlisted Leader Summit 2023 Published Sept. 12, 2023 By Tech. Sgt. Steven Adkins U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Public Affairs LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIA -- 31 Command senior enlisted leaders from 29 nations joined together for the 2023 European Senior Enlisted Leader Summit in Ljubljana, Slovenia, September 4-7, 2023. Slovenian Armed Forces Chief Master Sgt. Boštjan Bervar, 15th Wing command senior enlisted leader, co-hosted the summit alongside U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Randy Kwiatkowski, U.S. Air Forces in Europe Air Forces Africa command chief. “It is an honor to host this historic event with Chief Kwiatkowski in the capital of my country,” Bervar said. “Seeing and talking with all the returning command senior enlisted leaders and welcoming a few new faces to this prestigious group has been the highlight of my time this week.” After the 2022 Senior Enlisted Leader International Summit, held at Arlington, Virginia, senior enlisted leaders determined this type of meeting was pivotal to the growth and maintenance of Allied and Partner relationships, thus ESELS was born. ESELS is a biennial event held in the European and Indo-Pacific regions, respectively. The unofficial theme for ESELS 2023 was ‘ship-building.’ “We’ve talked about ‘ship-building’; that is partnerships, relationships and friendships,” Chief Kwiatkowski said. “That is the major outcome here, just strengthening the bonds between us.” While ‘ship-building,’ CSELs discussed a range of topics including the State Partnership Program. “Colorado National Guard has had a partnership with Slovenia for 30 years; we came together in 1993 as the U.S. was involved in helping stand up and support the eastern European countries at that time,” said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Lisa Perry, Colorado National Guard command senior enlisted leader. “We’ve had over 300 engagements; we know each other’s families. We build connection and familiarity, not just with our weapons systems but also working together during major exercises and training events.” Other major topics of discussion included regional CSEL cooperations and noncommissioned officer development. “This is hugely important. I think it’s important to recognize that in the United States Air Force, we say that the NCO is the backbone of our force; the NCO corps in the U.S. is our most competitive advantage that we have over any adversary,” U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne Bass said. “When we come together with our Partners and our Allies, we then make it a strategic advantage; our ability to collaborate and to partner together and show how strong our relationships are is really that strategic advantage that makes us stronger together.” That sentiment was shared by another participant of ESELS 2023, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Kostiantyn Stanislavchuk. “Us coming together is a huge advantage; the union that we are showing by working together is the biggest strength that we have,” Stanislavchuk said. “This meeting was also all about the NCOs; we’re always talking about how we are encouraging and developing our NCOs.” ESELS 2023 consisted of CSEL participation from Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, NATO Air Command, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the United States. During closing statements, CMSAF Bass said ESELS 2023 set the benchmark for what senior enlisted engagements could look like and shared the sentiment with every CSEL of, ‘we can’t wait until the next one.’ The host country for the 2025 European Senior Enlisted Leader Seminar has yet to be decided, but CSELs assure topics of focus will remain on strengthening joint forces, ‘ship-building’ and the development of the NCO corps.