Enlisted development is key to building partnership capacity

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Pamela Derrow
  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe command chief
Noncommissioned officers are the backbone of our Air Force, and as we partner with developing nations and our NATO allies, it's vital that we collaborate in our NCO development efforts.

This international military partnering directly supports U.S. Air Forces in Europe's priority of building partnership capacity, particularly when working with developing nations or new members of NATO.

Professional military education is what makes us the professional corps we are. We have a strong enlisted corps, but these partnership opportunities benefit everyone involved. Over the last year or so, we've really stepped up our NCO development efforts, and the results have been very positive.

From a strategic point of view, we've invested a lot of time in these partnership building efforts to help these developing nations continue to professionalize their NCO corps. This year we travelled to Poland, Bulgaria, and Romania to talk enlisted professional development. These trips are extremely valuable both in terms of gathering information and sharing best practices as well as establishing rapport with our counterparts.

One of our goals is to develop compatible curriculums for our NCO academies that are interchangeable. This will pay dividends here in the European theater of operations, and especially as we deploy together in support of overseas contingency operations.

So far this year, eight enlisted members from Turkey, Romania, Germany and Great Britain graduated from our Kisling NCO Academy. We're able to provide this opportunity as part of the International Military Education and Training program, a vital part of USAFE's security assistance. USAFE uses IMET to place particular emphasis on NCO development. We hope to continue to increase participation in the program over the upcoming year, and I'm certain those airmen will take the professional development lessons back to their units and help take their enlisted corps to the next level.

I'm confident that as we continue to work with our NATO allies to develop their enlisted force, it will enhance USAFE efforts to build partnership capacity in these regions.

As Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy said, these professional military education opportunities not only give our partner nations the opportunity to learn about us, but we also learn about our service through the interaction. Each military can use the opportunity for continued growth. The strongest military countries in the world have a strong, professional enlisted corps. We are committed to working with our coalition partners.