European theater CSELs participate in Nordic regional engagement

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Michael Battles
  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Public Affairs.

Command senior enlisted leaders from U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, NATO Allied Air Command, the Royal Danish, Royal Norwegian, Finnish, and Swedish air forces recently participated in a Nordic regional engagement to Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland.

The two-week engagement provided a platform for the CSELs to discuss Agile Combat Employment across the Nordic nations, explore multinational, professional military education exchange opportunities and discuss the operational environment in the High North.

“The Nordic visit is a significant engagement,” said Royal Air Force Warrant Officer Simon Waldock, command senior enlisted leader for NATO Allied Air Command. “The visit will provide an important steppingstone in developing and strengthening relationships and partnerships in the region.

Waldock also said this trip is paramount to the success of NATO.

“NATO’s fundamental goal is to safeguard the [allies] freedom and security by both political and military means,” Waldock expressed. “The expertise and knowledge the High North partners have is fundamental. The part they play in countering the threat from any adversary is critical, and their support to assist nullifying the effectiveness of any hostile air actions is fundamental in the success of NATO in the Nordic region.”

In conjunction with visiting NATO countries Denmark and Norway, the tour also visited Sweden and Finland, both of which have applied for NATO membership within the last year.

“Although not officially NATO members yet, both Sweden and Finland are critical to the NATO mission,” Waldock said. “Both geographically and strategically, the Nordic region is an area of significant importance to the NATO alliance. Both countries are near the High North and Arctic regions. These areas are key to the success of the NATO mission and will continue to be going forward.”

In addition to discussing strategic importance of the NATO region, the engagement focused heavily on the development of the enlisted corps, specifically the non-commissioned officers in the four nations, as well as professional military education exchanges across the allied nations and partners.

“Developing our NCOs is critical to the success of our air forces,” said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Benjamin Hedden, USAFE-AFAFRICA command chief. “We’ve seen in recent history that a military without a strong NCO presence will fail. For that reason, it’s critical that we learn from each other, discuss ways to improve and work on ways to develop our enlisted force across the alliance.”

He continued by saying, “This trip gives us a unique opportunity to work face-to-face in developing the groundwork necessary to solve issues facing our enlisted forces. By learning more about the NCO corps of each nation, we find areas of common grounds and challenges that we can collectively work together to solve.”

Waldock summed up the two-week trip by saying in the end it’s all about the partnership events like the Nordic regional CSEL engagement build that are so important.

“It’s about enhancing CSEL relationships and friendships within the Nordic region,” he said. “Solidify already strong, current relationships with Norway and Denmark CSELs and develop new relationships with future NATO CSELs from both Sweden and Finland. The High North and Arctic region are a key area now and will continue to be a key region heading into the future.”