Africa Enlisted Development Strategy

The strategy seeks to standardize existing African professional military education institutions that can train not only their own nation’s forces but also those of neighboring countries and create or improve regional centers of excellence.

The Africa Enlisted Development Strategy (AEDS) was created to identify gaps in African enlisted development processes, enlist assistance from external stakeholders and allocate funds allowing partners to build Professional Military Education (PME) institutions to serve as centers of excellence for the development of enlisted forces.

Army Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Ripka, the first AFRICOM command senior enlisted leader, unfurls the U.S. Africa Command banner during the command's official establishment commemoration in 2008.

The strategy also focuses on helping African partners build capacity to train other African countries, providing intra-African options for non-commissioned officer (NCO) development.

The history of AEDS begins with Command Sergeant Major Mark Ripka, AFRICOM's first command senior enlisted leader, sharing his thoughts on enlisted development in Africa by saying, "You not only need warrant officers and noncommissioned officers to be the physical people that they are, but you also need them to be very intelligent. They need to be able to operate within the commanders’ guidance and intent as well."

With the concurrence from African partners, AEDS identifies the most effective institutions and established Centers of Excellence in an effort to regionalize the approach to African Professional Military Education. The strategy is executed by recruiting assistance from supporting mechanisms such as Military Training Teams, the State Partnership Program and other available assets in order to maximize every engagement opportunity. The AEDS targeted end-state is to utilize existing African Professional Military Education institutions that can train not only their organic forces, but also those of neighboring countries.

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Ramon Colon-Lopez served as command senior enlisted leader from 2016-19, advancing the AEDS by hosting the first annual Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference in 2017.

 The first Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference (ASELC) was conducted in November 2017, bringing together more than 20 African Nations to discuss shared challenges and opportunities. Since then, the ASELC has brought together key enlisted leaders annually to overcome challenges of African enlisted development and formulate a phased approach to regionalize development efforts. This approach concentrates on no more than four tranche countries per calendar year, making them the main effort for U.S. Professional Military Education instructors conducting engagements to support both junior- and senior-NCO development and furthering efforts to reach more troops in Africa.