MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --
Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright hosted senior enlisted leaders from more than 30 nations for the 2018 Senior Enlisted Leader International Summit, Aug. 13-17, on Maxwell’s Gunter-Annex.
The summit is held bi-annually for international senior enlisted counterparts to the chief master sergeant of the Air Force to meet and discuss issues affecting the international community of enlisted Airmen and to further build counterpart relationships. This year’s summit theme is “Leadership: Developing the Next Generation.”
“(This year’s summit) has a focus on leadership development from cradle to grave, so we’re discussing everything from how our various air forces are structured, to how we conduct basic military training, technical training and all the way up to the chief master sergeant of the Air Force,” said Wright. “It’s a great opportunity for collaboration amongst the air force enlisted leaders of the various nations.”
Throughout the week, the attendees spent their time discussing numerous topics, attending keynote presentations and getting the opportunity to hear the perspectives of the other nations’ leadership.
“In this age, it is impossible to operate alone,” said Warrant Officer Masahiro Yakota, Japan Air Self-Defense Force. “We must establish closer relationships with our partner nations. It is of significant importance that many countries participate in this summit.”
Yakota said that one of the highlights of the summit for him was getting the opportunity to make progressive engagements with other countries that he would normally not have interactions with, specifically European and African nations.
“This was a great opportunity to build relationships with my peers,” he said, “and to start working on a charter to build a foundation for enlisted professional development and interoperability.”
In addition to Japan, senior enlisted leaders from Australia, Romania, Peru, Botswana, Kazakhstan, United Kingdom and Jordan, among others, all had the opportunity to share their respective nation’s insight on leadership development, as well as answering questions from their counterparts during panel discussions.
“This is my second time attending this conference,” said Chief Warrant Officer Saif Aldammin, Royal Jordanian Air Force. “The most helpful part of this conference was working in a joint environment. At our level, we need to learn how to work jointly in order to best utilize our self and our subordinates to improve our abilities. The lessons learned from other nations and the time shared is the most important part for me.”
Aldammin recalled a specific message shared during the conference that stood out to him: “If you want to work fast, work alone. If you want to go further, work together.”
A number of other attendees echoed Aldammin’s comments and also emphasized how beneficial it was to meet with their international counterparts.
“Part of the national defense strategy requires us to build and strengthen our alliances, and this plays right into that requirement, certainly from an enlisted leadership standpoint,” Wright said. “Most of our international counterparts are very similar to our Air Force where they have a very large enlisted population. Any time where we can connect with our partner nations and work on our enlisted development and work through opportunities to work together, I think it is a great thing.”
Chief Warrant Officer Peter Massop, Royal Netherlands Air Force, mentioned that one of the best experiences for him was getting the opportunity to meet and have lunch with some of the junior enlisted from Maxwell and hearing their personal experiences from their time in the Air Force.
“One of the highlights for me was to meet the young Airmen of the American Air Force and also to meet my American colleagues,” Massop said. “(It is beneficial) to see that we all are having some of the same problems, and that we are not alone.”
Wright said that in addition to the sharing of information, fellowship and networking, the summit has also been a great learning experience for both him and guests.
“It’s great to reconnect with some old friends and some chiefs that I have worked with in the past, and it is also really good to connect with some of the senior leaders that I haven’t had an opportunity to work with,” he said. “I want to thank all the partner nations, as well as the international enlisted engagements manager, Senior Master Sgt. Sarah Balian, for putting this event on. I am really looking forward to the strategy that we put together and, most importantly, to the continued relationships with our partner nations.”