NATO allies cultivate NCO force

Story and photos by
Staff Sgt. Nesha Humes Stanton
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Romanian air force’s International Senior Enlisted Leader Visit attendees walk the flightline at Borcea Air Force Base, Romania, July 11. More than 25 service members attended the two-day event to tighten professional relations and discuss educational and training processes for combined professional development.

BUCHAREST, Romania — In recent years, the Department of Defense has placed special importance in investing in our military’s noncommissioned officer corps’ leadership capabilities.

In order to continue enhancing leadership capabilities across Europe, U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Philip L. Easton, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa command chief, put plans into action and attended the Romanian air force’s Senior Enlisted Leader and Command Sergeant Major’s Summit in Bucharest, Romania, July 10 to 11.

Royal Air Force Chief Warrant Officer Jake Alpert, Allied Air Command command senior enlisted leader and U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Phillip L. Easton, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces in Africa command chief, converse during the Romanian air force’s International SEL Visit at Bucharest, Romania, July 10. The two-day visit included a tour of three Romanian air force bases, the Palace of the Parliament and discussions about noncommissioned officer professional development for combined readiness.

“NCOs are the backbone to air power,” Easton said, “They are our fighters, instructors, mentors, leaders and ambassadors.”

“We’ve changed our focus, and if we start leadership training earlier, we will be a stronger Air Force in the end,” Easton continued. “Our Airmen are faster, stronger, and smarter, than we were as Airmen, and we need to take advantage of that.”

The Allied Air Command senior enlisted leader and two USAF international enlisted engagement managers joined Easton and other NATO ally leaders.


Senior Master Sgt. Sarah Balian, Secretary of the Air Force international enlisted engagement manager, said it was a great opportunity to learn about the Romanian air force and their enlisted force.

“It’s important to develop those relationships with senior leaders, and enlisted leaders are no exception,” Balian said. “So, in building our personal relationships with these senior enlisted leaders, learning about what they do, meeting their personnel, we have a great start developing further relationships and capacities of our forces. It was a fantastic week of learning with all partners involved.”

Plutonier Adjutant Principal Daniel Sîmpetru, Chief Master Sgt. of the Romanian air force, led the two-day summit which included tours of the Borcea and Mihail Kohalniceanu air force bases and the Palace of the Parliament in addition to a conference.


U.S., Royal, Turkish, Romanian, and Bulgarian, air forces senior enlisted leaders pose for a photo at the Palace of the Parliament during the Romanian air force’s International SEL Visit at Bucharest, Romania, July 10. The SELs aimed to tighten professional relations and discuss educational and training processes for combined professional development.

The Chief Master Sergeants of the Bulgarian air force and Turkish air force also attended the summit to discuss their countries’ current mission capabilities, NCO professional development training, challenges and visions.

“We have to continue to develop our future leaders and invest in the future,” said Royal Air Force Chief Warrant Officer Jake Alpert, Allied Air Command SEL. “If we don’t do that now, then in the future our air forces won’t be as good as they are now.”

“It’s important that we release the full potential of NCOs and recognize the full talent out there in order to develop them for future operations,” Alpert added.

USAFE-AFAFRICA currently offers three combined Airman Leadership Schools open to NATO allies’ NCO officers in an aim to deliberately train middle management in leadership skills.

As training keeps developing for our NATO allies, the U.S., Royal, Romanian, Bulgarian and Turkish air forces continue to work together and improve ready air forces capable of maintaining regional security.