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AFCENT hosts first Senior Enlisted Leaders Conference

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Ashley Maldonado
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

For the very first time, the most senior enlisted leaders from 10 allied country’s Air Forces gathered in Sumter, South Carolina, to participate in a Senior Enlisted Leaders Conference hosted by Chief Master Sgt. Shawn Drinkard, command chief of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, Jan. 6 – 9, 2020.

Throughout the four days, the conference members described the enlisted force structure of each country’s Air Force through international Air Force briefings, toured Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., discussed how to strengthen the noncommissioned officers in their respective service.

Drinkard said this was the first time AFCENT brought together coalition and partner nation air component senior enlisted leaders from across the U.S. Central Command theater of operations.

“It was an opportunity to build relationships and professional networks in order to exchange experiences and opportunities to enhance the performance of our enlisted forces,” said Chief Warrant Officer Saif Aldammin of the Royal Jordanian Air Force.

The senior enlisted leaders who attended the conference hail from Australia, Canada, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan, Qatar, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.

“[The goal of the SELC was] to collaborate and strengthen relationships among senior enlisted leaders who are responsible for advising regional Air Chiefs and integrating regional airpower,” Drinkard said. “Senior enlisted leaders are fundamental to airpower interoperability and integration as we collectively strive to achieve enduring stability and deterrence within the region.”

Aldammin said the importance of the conference is to enhance the noncommissioned officers leadership roles, especially for areas where many coalitions and partnerships for peace and stability for the region.

“By partnering with Secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs, we were able to bring together the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force equivalents from 10 Nations,” Drinkard said. “We came together and shared strategies related to human capital management, recruitment, training and readiness. One thing is certain, we all fully understand the fundamental competitive advantage we have over our common adversaries is a professional and empowered noncommissioned officer corps.”

Aldammin said the main thing he took away from the conference was many more networks and relationships, which he considers the most important assets he can ever have. However, learning from and about other participant nations is also important in the matter of extending and building relationships.

“Under the common threats we are facing, the joint work and collaboration is the best way to defeat any potential enemy with costs and highest performance,” Aldammin said. “We are better together; we are stronger together.”