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African and U.S. Senior Enlisted Leaders Discuss NCO Empowerment, Development
Senior enlisted leaders from 27 African nations and the U.S. gathered in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, for the third annual Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference.
U.S. Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. Ramon Colon-Lopez, command senior enlisted leader, U.S. Africa Command, speaks during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference 2019 Aug. 13, 2019 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Senior enlisted leaders from more than 25 African nations participated in this year's event.
15 photos: Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference 2019
Photo 1 of 15: U.S. Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. Ramon Colon-Lopez, command senior enlisted leader, U.S. Africa Command, speaks during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference 2019 Aug. 13, 2019 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Senior enlisted leaders from more than 25 African nations participated in this year's event. Download full-resolution version
Gen. Vincent Nundwe, commander, Malawi Defence Force, participates in a panel during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany Aug. 13, 2019. Nundwe was one of four African chiefs of defense or their representative that participated in the panel. They spoke about the importance of empowering African non-commissioned officers and enlisted development.
15 photos: Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference 2019
Photo 2 of 15: Gen. Vincent Nundwe, commander, Malawi Defence Force, participates in a panel during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany Aug. 13, 2019. Nundwe was one of four African chiefs of defense or their representative that participated in the panel. They spoke about the importance of empowering African non-commissioned officers and enlisted development. Download full-resolution version
U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. James Vechery, deputy to the commander for military operations, U.S. Africa Command, delivers remarks during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference 2019 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany Aug. 13, 2019.
15 photos: Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference 2019
Photo 3 of 15: U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. James Vechery, deputy to the commander for military operations, U.S. Africa Command, delivers remarks during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference 2019 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany Aug. 13, 2019. Download full-resolution version
Sgt. Maj. Gift Mbatisi, major command sergeant major, Botswana Defence Force, participates in a panel discussion during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference Aug. 13, 2019. Senior Enlisted Leaders from more than 25 African nations and the U.S. attended the conference.
15 photos: Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference 2019
Photo 4 of 15: Sgt. Maj. Gift Mbatisi, major command sergeant major, Botswana Defence Force, participates in a panel discussion during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference Aug. 13, 2019. Senior Enlisted Leaders from more than 25 African nations and the U.S. attended the conference. Download full-resolution version
Sgt. Maj. Karmoh Freeman, the acting command sergeant major of the Armed Forces of Liberia, participates in a panel discussion during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference Aug. 13, 2019 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Liberia is one of four countries that are part of the first tranche of the Africa Enlisted Development Strategy. The Africa Enlisted Development Strategy is a low-to-no-cost, multi-year approach to enlisted development in Africa. This approach seeks to standardize existing African professional military education institutions, ultimately creating regional centers of excellence.
15 photos: Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference 2019
Photo 5 of 15: Sgt. Maj. Karmoh Freeman, the acting command sergeant major of the Armed Forces of Liberia, participates in a panel discussion during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference Aug. 13, 2019 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Liberia is one of four countries that are part of the first tranche of the Africa Enlisted Development Strategy. The Africa Enlisted Development Strategy is a low-to-no-cost, multi-year approach to enlisted development in Africa. This approach seeks to standardize existing African professional military education institutions, ultimately creating regional centers of excellence. Download full-resolution version
Chiefs of defense or their representative from Malawi, Ghana, Liberia, and Botswana participate on a panel during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany Aug. 13, 2019. The panelists spoke about the importance of empowering African non-commissioned officers and enlisted development.
15 photos: Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference 2019
Photo 6 of 15: Chiefs of defense or their representative from Malawi, Ghana, Liberia, and Botswana participate on a panel during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany Aug. 13, 2019. The panelists spoke about the importance of empowering African non-commissioned officers and enlisted development. Download full-resolution version
Maj. Gen. Mpho Mophuting, director of general support services, Botswana Defence Force, speaks during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference Aug. 13, 2019. Mophuting took part in a panel featuring African chiefs of defense or their representative. The panelists spoke about the importance of empowering African non-commissioned officers and enlisted development.
15 photos: Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference 2019
Photo 7 of 15: Maj. Gen. Mpho Mophuting, director of general support services, Botswana Defence Force, speaks during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference Aug. 13, 2019. Mophuting took part in a panel featuring African chiefs of defense or their representative. The panelists spoke about the importance of empowering African non-commissioned officers and enlisted development. Download full-resolution version
Chiefs of defense or their representative from Malawi, Ghana, Liberia, and Botswana participate on a panel during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany Aug. 13, 2019. The panelists spoke about the importance of empowering African non-commissioned officers and enlisted development.
15 photos: Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference 2019
Photo 8 of 15: Chiefs of defense or their representative from Malawi, Ghana, Liberia, and Botswana participate on a panel during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany Aug. 13, 2019. The panelists spoke about the importance of empowering African non-commissioned officers and enlisted development. Download full-resolution version
Lt. Gen. Obed Boamah Akwa, chief of defense staff, Ghana Armed Forces, addresses African and U.S. senior enlisted leaders during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany Aug. 13, 2019. Akwa took part in a panel featuring African chiefs of defense or their representative. The panelists spoke about the importance of empowering African non-commissioned officers and enlisted development.
15 photos: Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference 2019
Photo 9 of 15: Lt. Gen. Obed Boamah Akwa, chief of defense staff, Ghana Armed Forces, addresses African and U.S. senior enlisted leaders during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany Aug. 13, 2019. Akwa took part in a panel featuring African chiefs of defense or their representative. The panelists spoke about the importance of empowering African non-commissioned officers and enlisted development. Download full-resolution version
African and U.S. women non-commissioned officers pose for a group photo during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference 2019 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Last year, two African women NCOs attended the event. This year seven women NCOs from six African nations attended the conference.
15 photos: Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference 2019
Photo 10 of 15: African and U.S. women non-commissioned officers pose for a group photo during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference 2019 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Last year, two African women NCOs attended the event. This year seven women NCOs from six African nations attended the conference. Download full-resolution version
Senior Enlisted Leaders from Ghana listen to a panel discussion during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference Aug. 13, 2019 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Hosted by U.S. Africa Command, the ASELC is an opportunity to bring together a focused group of senior enlisted leaders from countries across African and a contingent of U.S. senior enlisted leaders to discuss and better understand shared challenges and opportunities.
15 photos: Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference 2019
Photo 11 of 15: Senior Enlisted Leaders from Ghana listen to a panel discussion during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference Aug. 13, 2019 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Hosted by U.S. Africa Command, the ASELC is an opportunity to bring together a focused group of senior enlisted leaders from countries across African and a contingent of U.S. senior enlisted leaders to discuss and better understand shared challenges and opportunities. Download full-resolution version
U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell, Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference Aug. 14, 2019 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. ASELC is a venue where senior enlisted leaders from more than 25 African nations and the U.S. forge beneficial partnerships with each other and discuss opportunities for collaboration.
15 photos: Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference 2019
Photo 12 of 15: U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell, Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference Aug. 14, 2019 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. ASELC is a venue where senior enlisted leaders from more than 25 African nations and the U.S. forge beneficial partnerships with each other and discuss opportunities for collaboration. Download full-resolution version
Fleet Chief Petty Officer Anna Owusu-Acheampong, senior enlisted leader, Ghana Navy NCO Academy, speaks during a Women, Peace and Security panel discussion during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference Aug. 14, 2019 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. This year, seven women NCOs from six African nations attended the conference.
15 photos: Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference 2019
Photo 13 of 15: Fleet Chief Petty Officer Anna Owusu-Acheampong, senior enlisted leader, Ghana Navy NCO Academy, speaks during a Women, Peace and Security panel discussion during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference Aug. 14, 2019 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. This year, seven women NCOs from six African nations attended the conference. Download full-resolution version
U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command, addresses senior enlisted leaders from Africa and the U.S. during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference Aug. 14, 2019 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. ASELC brings together senior enlisted leaders from more than 25 African partner nations and the U.S. to discuss shared challenges and opportunities for collaboration and partnership.
15 photos: Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference 2019
Photo 14 of 15: U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command, addresses senior enlisted leaders from Africa and the U.S. during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference Aug. 14, 2019 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. ASELC brings together senior enlisted leaders from more than 25 African partner nations and the U.S. to discuss shared challenges and opportunities for collaboration and partnership. Download full-resolution version
Women NCOs from Liberia, Ghana, and Malawi participate in a Women, Peace and Security panel discussion during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference Aug. 14, 2019 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. This year, seven women NCOs from six African nations attended the conference.
15 photos: Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference 2019
Photo 15 of 15: Women NCOs from Liberia, Ghana, and Malawi participate in a Women, Peace and Security panel discussion during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference Aug. 14, 2019 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. This year, seven women NCOs from six African nations attended the conference. Download full-resolution version
U.S. Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. Ramon Colon-Lopez, command senior enlisted leader, U.S. Africa Command, speaks during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference 2019 Aug. 13, 2019 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Senior enlisted leaders from more than 25 African nations participated in this year's event.
Gen. Vincent Nundwe, commander, Malawi Defence Force, participates in a panel during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany Aug. 13, 2019. Nundwe was one of four African chiefs of defense or their representative that participated in the panel. They spoke about the importance of empowering African non-commissioned officers and enlisted development.
U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. James Vechery, deputy to the commander for military operations, U.S. Africa Command, delivers remarks during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference 2019 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany Aug. 13, 2019.
Sgt. Maj. Gift Mbatisi, major command sergeant major, Botswana Defence Force, participates in a panel discussion during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference Aug. 13, 2019. Senior Enlisted Leaders from more than 25 African nations and the U.S. attended the conference.
Sgt. Maj. Karmoh Freeman, the acting command sergeant major of the Armed Forces of Liberia, participates in a panel discussion during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference Aug. 13, 2019 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Liberia is one of four countries that are part of the first tranche of the Africa Enlisted Development Strategy. The Africa Enlisted Development Strategy is a low-to-no-cost, multi-year approach to enlisted development in Africa. This approach seeks to standardize existing African professional military education institutions, ultimately creating regional centers of excellence.
Chiefs of defense or their representative from Malawi, Ghana, Liberia, and Botswana participate on a panel during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany Aug. 13, 2019. The panelists spoke about the importance of empowering African non-commissioned officers and enlisted development.
Maj. Gen. Mpho Mophuting, director of general support services, Botswana Defence Force, speaks during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference Aug. 13, 2019. Mophuting took part in a panel featuring African chiefs of defense or their representative. The panelists spoke about the importance of empowering African non-commissioned officers and enlisted development.
Chiefs of defense or their representative from Malawi, Ghana, Liberia, and Botswana participate on a panel during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany Aug. 13, 2019. The panelists spoke about the importance of empowering African non-commissioned officers and enlisted development.
Lt. Gen. Obed Boamah Akwa, chief of defense staff, Ghana Armed Forces, addresses African and U.S. senior enlisted leaders during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany Aug. 13, 2019. Akwa took part in a panel featuring African chiefs of defense or their representative. The panelists spoke about the importance of empowering African non-commissioned officers and enlisted development.
African and U.S. women non-commissioned officers pose for a group photo during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference 2019 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Last year, two African women NCOs attended the event. This year seven women NCOs from six African nations attended the conference.
Senior Enlisted Leaders from Ghana listen to a panel discussion during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference Aug. 13, 2019 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Hosted by U.S. Africa Command, the ASELC is an opportunity to bring together a focused group of senior enlisted leaders from countries across African and a contingent of U.S. senior enlisted leaders to discuss and better understand shared challenges and opportunities.
U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell, Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference Aug. 14, 2019 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. ASELC is a venue where senior enlisted leaders from more than 25 African nations and the U.S. forge beneficial partnerships with each other and discuss opportunities for collaboration.
Fleet Chief Petty Officer Anna Owusu-Acheampong, senior enlisted leader, Ghana Navy NCO Academy, speaks during a Women, Peace and Security panel discussion during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference Aug. 14, 2019 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. This year, seven women NCOs from six African nations attended the conference.
U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command, addresses senior enlisted leaders from Africa and the U.S. during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference Aug. 14, 2019 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. ASELC brings together senior enlisted leaders from more than 25 African partner nations and the U.S. to discuss shared challenges and opportunities for collaboration and partnership.
Women NCOs from Liberia, Ghana, and Malawi participate in a Women, Peace and Security panel discussion during the Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference Aug. 14, 2019 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. This year, seven women NCOs from six African nations attended the conference.

Senior enlisted leaders from 27 African nations and the U.S. gathered in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, for the third annual Africa Senior Enlisted Leader Conference (ASELC).

The ASELC provides a forum for African and U.S. senior enlisted leaders to share experiences and find ways to collaborate regarding non-commissioned officer empowerment and development.

“This is a great opportunity for countries to collaborate, build on strengths, understand differences, and work together. A more secure and stable Africa is in everyone’s interest,” said U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command. “The incredible exchange of ideas and learning at this symposium is making us and our African partners stronger.”

During the first ASELC held in 2017, African senior enlisted leaders identified professional military development as one of the key issues they face. The second conference, held in 2018, included a forum to unveil the Africa Enlisted Development Strategy, AFRICOM’s low-to-no-cost, multi-year approach to enlisted development.

The Africa Enlisted Development 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 nations with the goal of developing regional centers of excellence. Each year, the strategy focuses on up to four countries. The first four focus countries included in the first tranche of the strategy are Botswana, Ghana, Liberia and Malawi.

The execution is ongoing for the first tranche, said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Ramon Colon-Lopez, command senior enlisted leader, U.S. Africa Command. During this year’s conference, the African tranche one senior enlisted leaders shared their experiences and are now able to serve as a model for the other African senior enlisted leaders in attendance.

For Chief Warrant Officer Ramous Barker, Forces Sergeant Major, Ghana Armed Forces, he understands that empowering and developing NCOs is critical to the success of his military.

“NCOs form the backbone of every military institution,” he said. “If you have a weak NCO corps, then you will have a weak military institution so it is essential that all NCOs are trained very well and are educated very well so that they are able to function as NCOs.”

Professional military education is at the heart of strengthening the NCO Corps, he said.

In Malawi, efforts are already underway at the Malawi Defence Force Sergeant Major Academy to train their own forces and forces from other African nations.

In 2014, at the request of the Malawi Defence Force, U.S. Army Africa sent a mobile training team to help the Malawi military develop an NCO training curriculum. During the first class, the U.S. instructors trained Malawian instructors. During the second course, the Malawian instructors taught the class and the U.S. instructors provided mentorship. In 2015 during the third iteration of the course, the Malawi Defence Force instructors taught the class with no U.S. involvement. Later that year, they began training other African NCOs.

To date, the academy has trained NCOs from 12 African nations and they plan to expand to even more countries, said Warrant Officer Class One George Bisalomu, Malawi Defence Force Sergeant Major.

“As African nations, not everyone has got everything so we keep on helping each other,” said Gen. Vincent Nundwe, commander, Malawi Defence Force. “If we have those courses in Malawi, it’s one way of trying to harmonize the interoperability with other forces.”

Top defense officials from the four focus countries, including Nundwe, participated in a Chief of Defense panel discussion about NCO empowerment.

This panel was a direct result of a request by the African senior enlisted leaders, Colon-Lopez said. During the first ASELC, the attendees said it’s great to hear from U.S. generals, but it’s most important to hear from African generals.

“The problem lies when officers aren’t always willing to empower non-commissioned officers,” he said. “We asked some of our most trusted partners [African generals] to come here to be able to impart ‘why is it that they’re choosing to empower non-commissioned officers in Africa.’”

The panelists spoke about their personal experiences empowering NCOs and why it’s essential to their military.

“NCOs, all the time, have to be empowered and you have to show the trust and the confidence in them so that even when you are not there, they will do the job just like when you are there,” said Maj. Gen. Mpho Mophuting, director of general support services, Botswana Defence Force. “It’s really important to ensure that you have the best NCO corps that can represent you both professionally in the military and even outside when they are in the civilian population to help people understand what the military stands for.”

Another topic of discussion during this year’s event is the unique perspective women NCOs bring to a military. During last year’s ASELC, two women NCOs were in attendance. This year that number increased to seven representing six African nations and, for the first time, a Women, Peace and Security panel was held featuring women NCOs from Ghana, Liberia and Malawi.

“Women are very important because they make a difference in the military,” said Master Sgt. Joyce N. Akoi, Administrative Clerk for the Chief of Staff, Armed Forces Liberia.

In Mali, women soldiers have an important role in information gathering because in that culture, women are not allowed to be seen with men. Women soldiers are able to talk to other women so that information can be gathered for the mission, Akoi said.

“We need to utilize all talent and provide everybody, regardless of gender, the ability to excel, grow, develop, and lead,” said Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell, Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The goal of the Women, Peace and Security panel is for the African participants to take lessons learned back to their countries and look for ways to capitalize on effectively leveraging women in their military, Colon-Lopez said.

As the Africa Enlisted Development Strategy progresses, Colon-Lopez said the desired end state of NCO development in African sustainability and ownership with little to no U.S. or coalition assistance to carry on training the future crop of NCOs.

“It is imperative that we first and foremost bring the lessons learned from the Africans and not just the ideas of the U.S.,” he said. That’s what’s going to resonate with them and that is the direction we need to take as United States Africa Command. African solutions to African issues.”

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