15 nations assemble to improve force development

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Ryan Crane
  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Public Affairs
U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa hosted 14 allied and partner nations June 2-4, for the inaugural International Professional Military Development (PMD) Symposium here.

The PMD course is designed to provide a platform for European and African nations to share best practices, concepts about recruiting, as well as training and developing a professional officer and enlisted force.

Senior Master Sgt. Travis Robbins, the USAFE-AFAFRICA international affairs enlisted engagement manager, facilitated the discussions for the forum.

"The U.S. presence has drastically reduced its forces and assets around the world, especially in Europe." Robbins said. "The future guarantees that we will need the support of our allies when working in future conflicts together, and in order to work together, you must first understand each other, and this symposium is a great start to understanding each other."

The inaugural event hosted a diverse spread of air forces including the Netherlands, U.K., Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and Zambia.

The course offered a variety of topics over the three days including an overview of building an enlisted force, recruiting, enlisted and officer education, and promotions. The symposium also allowed the group to tour units that are unique to the Ramstein area. On the second day they toured the 603rd Air and Space Operations Center, Kissling NCO Academy and the 435th Contingency Response Group.

The NCOA was an important part of the symposium due to the focus on development of Airmen. Gen. Frank Gorenc, the USAFE-AFAFRICA commander, hit on that topic during his remarks to the group.

"Developing Airmen is not just making a checklist," Gorenc said. "This is the development of our people so they can tackle the known challenges, but it is also to educate them enough to be able to handle challenges that aren't covered by a checklist. They need these complex skills to critically think about these things."

Gorenc explained that those challenges have been ever present on the European and African continents over the past year, citing the Russian intervention in Crimea, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and Ebola.

"We don't know what the next challenge is," Gorenc said, "but whatever solution is aspired to by the coalition of the willing, airpower will play a big part in it."

Gorenc said that the Air Force is often accused of chasing the latest and greatest technology and admits that while that may be true; the most important thing we can focus on is the development of our Airmen.

"No matter how big our air forces are, whether it's 350 or 300,000, we all share one common denominator: people," Robbins said. "With 29 international partners from 14 different countries it's amazing how much you learn about cultural diversity. Part of USAFE-AFAFRICA's 'Forward, Ready, Now!' mission is to build partnerships and it is events like these that keep that mission alive."