International summit focuses on enlisted issues

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Chris Vadnais
  • Air Force Public Affairs
Representatives of air forces from seventeen nations participated in the 2012 Partner Nations Summit here this week. The three-day event was co-hosted by the Royal Canadian Air Force and the U.S. Air Force, and focused on building relationships through discussion of common topical issues.

"We are happy to co-host this year's summit here at Canadian Forces Base Borden," said Chief Warrant Officer Guy Janssens, Vice Chief of the Canadian Defense Staff Group Chief Warrant Officer. "The program we created is designed to foster cooperation and interoperability between our nations," he said.

In addition to the Canadian and United States representatives, senior enlisted leaders came from Australia, Botswana, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Ghana, Italy, New Zealand, Poland, Senegal, Singapore, Turkey, Uganda, and the United Kingdom.

"Working in this diverse group, we very quickly saw the things that challenged each of us were also challenges for our partners," said Chief Master Sergeant Brooke McLean, Command Chief Master Sergeant of Pacific Air Forces. "When you get down to it, we're all concerned about the same things - managing resources, training, taking care of our Airmen, things like that," he said.

The 42 participants broke into small groups to discuss specific topics, bringing notes back to the larger group for further discussion.

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy said each nation's participation is an investment in the future.

"What we are doing here is building partnerships" he said. "By coming together to discuss topical issues and exchange ideas, we are all growing and learning."

Roy said partnering is important now and will continue to be important as resources become scarcer. Building capability prepares each partner nation to handle its future challenges while providing a unique learning experience for each individual in the group.

The exchange also enhances interoperability and helps prepare for contingencies where nations might need to work together. As United States Air Forces Europe Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. David Williamson said, "I'd rather get to know my partners here than on the battlefield."

Senior Master Sgt. Steve Nichols, Pacific Air Forces International Affairs Enlisted Engagement Manager, said working in cultural exchange settings like this promotes a different way of thinking.

"When you work closely with people from different nations and cultures, you begin to really think on a more strategic level," he said. "You start making connections you wouldn't otherwise be able to make."

Chief Roy agreed.

"We each learn just as much about ourselves through these exchanges as we do about our partners," he said. "We may learn something we can use immediately, or we may learn something we can use down the road -- to create solutions for problems in the future."