Atlantic Stripe: Molding, mentoring and developing today’s NCO

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Renae Pittman
  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa

Approximately 70 Airmen, Soldiers and NATO service members from across Europe came together at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, for the annual Atlantic Stripe conference, a highly selective, four-day professional development seminar aimed at deliberately developing junior noncommissioned officers to become better Airmen and leaders.

Multiple leaders came together from U.S. Air Forces in Europe & Air Forces Africa, 3rd Air Force and NATO to provide various leadership perspectives to the class throughout the week.

“This professional development conference was designed for hard-charging, high-potential E-5s and E-6s throughout the command,” said Chief Master Sgt. Phillip Easton, USAFE – AFAFRICA command chief.

“Our goal is to make sure they understand how they fit into the mission: in their squadron, in their group, in their wing, in their (major command) and in their combatant commands,” Easton added.

There were 26 different topics discussed including the importance of honest feedback, setting priorities for individuals and teams, emotional intelligence, resiliency and formal etiquette to help attendees strengthen their leadership skills.

Easton continued on the importance of the conference and how these skills are vital to developing the NCO corps.

“We ask a lot out of our junior enlisted. We ask them to be technical experts, improve themselves, be involved in the community and take care of their Airmen. We have to make sure they have all the tools they need to be successful.”

While primarily U.S. Air Force Airmen were in attendance, there were several U.S. Army and NATO service members selected, giving the class a one-of-a-kind joint and international perspective.

“I work with over 29 nations from all different branches of the military… all the services and countries have different cultures, career fields and standards. When we come together, we get a better understanding of those things and become better at operating in a coalition and teams to face today’s challenges,” said Warrant Officer Jake Alpert, command senior enlisted leader NATO Allied Air Command.

The class also had senior NCOs in attendance to mentor, guide and facilitate. Their primary role was to help attendees digest the information and ensure understanding of the tactical, operational and strategic concepts being communicated.

“Over the last week, it was mutually beneficial to be able to learn and share our respective missions, leadership successes and failures in order to grow and be better together,” said the class’ mentor, Senior Master Sgt. Kodi Bailey, USAFE-AFAFRICA A3 superintendent for operations and plans division.

In addition to briefings and panel discussions, attendees had an opportunity to tour the 435th Combat Readiness Group, the deployment transition center and the 603rd Air Operations Center to better understand various, unique components of the USAFE-AFAFRICA mission.

“This conference was great. The topics were interesting, the briefers were enthusiastic and I was able to network with many Americans from different services,” reflected Senior Sergeant Hanne Skjaeveland, a Royal Norwegian Air Force mission planner from the Command and Control Squadron, from the Heavy Airlift Wing, Papa, Hungary.

The week concluded with a physical training obstacle course designed to challenge teams on communication, physical abilities and cooperation.

“Mentoring, molding and developing our force is critical to our success,” Easton said as his closing remarks bringing the conference to an end. “Serving alongside NCOs like you gives me faith in our military’s future and our ability to remain the world’s greatest Air Force.”