Breedlove Urges NATO to Tap NCO Corps Capabilities
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 5, 2013 As new challenges and budget realities loom, the officer who serves as NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe and commander of U.S. European Command has challenged those in his charge to tap the “vast reservoir of untapped potential” within the noncommissioned officer corps.
“NATO and our partner nations are standing atop a gold mine of capability,” Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove wrote today in his command blog. “We need to get better at mining it and refining it.”
Breedlove shared his own experience as NCOs shared their tactical and technical skills and leadership abilities with him throughout his Air Force career. “As I’ve risen through the ranks as a leader and commander, I’ve benefitted from the support, trust and wise counsel of my NCOs,” he said.
Now, he said, he continues to rely on the knowledge and insights of his command senior enlisted leaders at NATO and Eucom: Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. Todd Small and Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. Craig Adams.
“I believe our alliance abounds in NCOs like these two leaders,” he said. “And I believe we must fully engage our NCOs’ unique capabilities to strengthen NATO’s collective defense and assist its transformation.”
NATO has been made progress in better developing and engaging its NCOs, Breedlove noted. The alliance established command senior enlisted leader position across the NATO structure and published the alliance’s first NCO strategy and guidelines.
In addition, the NATO School and Swiss Armed Forces Professional NCO School joined forces to design and teach NCO education courses, he said. Allied Command Operations and Eucom command senior enlisted leaders also partnered with the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies to organize the annual International Senior Enlisted Seminar.
Meanwhile, Belgium, Hungary, Romania, Ukraine, Turkey and other allies established senior enlisted leadership positions, Breedlove reported. Other nations such as Slovenia and Croatia developed their own multinational NCO education and outreach programs.
“These efforts have proven beneficial by creating an NCO corps that is increasingly empowered and responsible for individual training, discipline and the health and welfare of their service members,” Breedlove said.
“In this era of fiscal belt-tightening, we must look for opportunities to better develop and employ the assets we already have, in particularly our NCOs,” he said. “When we sharpen our NCOs’ capability through exercises, training, experience and professional education, we sharpen our nations’ combat edge.”