Joint-nation symposium ends with leaders looking to future of enlisted corps

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SOFIA, Bulgaria -- Senior enlisted leaders from Bulgarian and U.S. military forces pose for a group photograph before the final day of the first joint-nation NCO symposium at the Bulgarian Land Forces headquarters here April 11. More than 40 senior enlisted leaders met to discuss doctrine, strengths and leadership philosophies, which are designed to empower and inspire NCOs in both nations' corps.

SOFIA, Bulgaria -- Bulgarian Military Police 1st Sgt. Aleksander Aleksandrov talks with U.S. Navy Fleet Master Chief Petty Officer Roy M. Maddocks Jr., U.S. European Command senior enlisted leader, during the Bulgarian and U.S. NCO symposium at the Bulgarian Land Forces headquarters here April 11. Aleksandrov will become the first sergeant major of the Military Police in July. More than 40 senior enlisted leaders met to discuss doctrine, strengths and leadership philosophies, which are designed to empower and inspire NCOs in both nations' corps.

SOFIA, Bulgaria - The first joint-nation NCO symposium between Bulgaria and America ended at the Bulgarian Land Forces headquarters here April 11.

U.S. military leaders began discussing the more intricate nuances of NCO leadership as the symposium came to a close.

U.S. Navy Fleet Master Chief Petty Officer Roy M. Maddocks Jr., U.S. European Command senior enlisted leader, spoke about advanced NCO development and what that means to partnerships throughout the world.

Senior enlisted symposiums affect all contributing nations by allowing a greater capacity and collective capability for global security, Maddocks said. However, it is an evolutionary process that takes patience and hard work. If NCOs do their job well, the next generation of enlisted leaders will be superior in both skill and aptitude.

Deliberate professional growth is imperative in today’s society due to the advancements in technologies and the complexity of current joint and coalition forces operations, he continued. Senior military leaders of each nation must look forward to judge what future NCOs will require as technology continues to improve and NATO alliances evolve.

Joint doctrine, called “NATO Non-Commissioned Officer Bilateral Strategic Command Strategy and Recommended Non-Commissioned Officer Guidelines,” further explains and defines a baseline for Allied NCO roles and responsibilities. The document’s goal is to highlight the common military bonds within the 28 NATO countries. Each country can use the guidelines as a tool to standardize basic duties, which may enhance international interoperability.

“The senior officers endorsed the guidelines, because they understand the importance of the NCO to military operations,” he said, “yet a strategy is nothing more than a piece of paper without the people behind the scenes willing to work.”

The commitment to building a competent NCO corps throughout all NATO military allies is reflected by the vision of U.S. Navy Adm. Jim Stavridis, U.S. European Command commander and Supreme Allied Commander Europe. He charges service members to “… build NCO capacity and strengthen this Alliance by reinforcing the importance of a professional NCO corps through open dialogue, training initiatives, information sharing and cultural understanding.”

Bulgarian Joint Forces Command Sgt. Maj. Ivo Inzhov said he understands the concepts and benefits of NCO professional development due to having previously graduated from U.S. led senior-enlisted-leader courses.

He said the symposium presenters reinforced those concepts from start to finish, and the way ahead is to conduct more joint and intra-service idea-exchange sessions.

“I want to thank NATO - specifically the U.S. - for the support of their armed forces,” he said. “Thank you for the active support of the senior leaders from both nations, and I’m sure my colleagues here have appreciated the efforts that went into organizing this event, which was the first of its kind.

“I had a dream, and it came true,” he said about the success of the event.

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