Senior NCOs from more than 40 nations wrap up conference in Croatia

June 8, 2012

By U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs

Keeping heroes active
ZAGREB, Croatia -- U.S. Army Europe Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport and his Croatian counterpart Sgt. Maj. Of the Croatian Army Domink Ban along with senior noncommissioned officers from across Europe and Canada attend a briefing here June 5.

ZAGREB, Croatia – The sixth Conference of European Armies for Noncommissioned Officers, a gathering of senior NCOs from more than 40 European nations, Canada and Afghanistan, wrapped up here this week.

The three-day conference, co-hosted by U.S. Army Europe and the Croatian Army, is designed to share tactics and techniques that build partnership and interoperability among European, U.S. and other allied and partner forces. The event is a key component of USAREUR’s theater security cooperation program.

“The purpose of the conference is to encourage the development of professional armies throughout the European land forces and build relationships between the European armies’ senior NCOs,” explained USAREUR Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport Sr.

“This is an opportunity to build mutually beneficial personal and professional relationships and to hear other countries’ views on topics and issues that are important to all of us here in Europe,” Davenport added. “Many of these countries are our coalition partners in Afghanistan. In fact, 93 percent of our coalition partners in ISAF are European countries. So this is an opportunity to for us to discuss joint exercises and engagements at which we train for our coalition missions.”

During the conference the NCOs discussed several professional development topics, ranging from the basics of building and developing an NCO corps to the types of training available for NCOs across Europe.

“We are focused on the further progression of the development and success of professional noncommissioned officer corps in European and Eurasian land forces,” Davenport said. “The conference achieves that objective by engaging senior NCOs in frank and open discussions on military matters of mutual interest.”

Conference participants also viewed a multinational combined training at exercise Immediate Response 12, a multinational training event currently in progress at Croatia’s Slunj Training Area. The exercise includes forces from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Slovenia, Montenegro and the United States, with soldiers from Macedonia and Serbia acting as observers.

During the training, the participants watched two multinational companies, one U.S.-led and one Croatian-led, participate in an attack on a mock village using dismounted infantry, armored vehicles and close air support. The joint training highlighted the benefit of working together to prepare for deployment to multinational combat operations.

Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Capel, former USAREUR command sergeant major now serving as command sergeant major for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, said the annual NCO conference builds relationships that have a real effect on furthering multinational training and contingency operations.

“I see the same soldiers on the battlefield as I see here at this conference,” Capel said. “It helps me, because when I go to the battlefield I already know who I’m working with.”

Command Sgt. Maj. Darius Masiulis, the command sergeant major of the Lithuanian National Guard, said the conference is a great opportunity to learn from his allied and partner nation counterparts.

 “All these topics … help me better understand how other countries work, how they do training, and how we can do training together. It’s a great for me to learn how it’s done in different countries,” Masiulis said.

USAREUR Commander Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling and Croatian Land Forces Commander Maj. Gen. Dragutin Repinc paid a visit to the conference and co-hosted a dinner with participants.

In his remarks at the dinner Hertling said there’s something about the nature of NCOs that ensures that the conference will pay real dividends, solve real problems for today, and build training capabilities for the future.

 “I actually think because the sergeants get together, when they talk, things actually happen,” Hertling said.

Additional images from the conference can be found in the CEANCO set in USAREUR’s Flickr photostream

About us: U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned to advance American strategic interests across Eurasia and has unparalleled capability to prevent conflict, shape the environment and, if necessary, win decisively. The relationships we build during more than 1000 theater security cooperation events in more than 40 countries each year lead directly to support for multinational contingency operations around the world, strengthen regional partnerships, and enhance global security.