By Navy Petty Officer 1st Class David Votroubek
Special to American Forces Press Service
June 13, 2007 – Senior enlisted leaders from the Afghan National Army and coalition forces met in May for the first ANA Sergeant Major of the Army Combat Leadership Training Seminar. Command sergeants major and other senior enlisted leaders attended the two-day seminar to associate and train with their peers.
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert E. Durbin, commander of Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan, made opening statements on the first day. He recalled his experiences with senior enlisted leaders earlier in his career and challenged the attendees to put themselves in their soldiers' places.
He concluded by telling them, "Now you need to get blisters on your hands and get your hands dirty, because that's what great leaders do."
Durbin was followed by the combined command's top enlisted member, Army Command Sgt. Maj. Ruben Espinoza, who reminded the noncommissioned officers of their duty to enforce standards and train subordinates.
"Success on the battlefield is not an accident; it is the result of training by senior NCOs," he said.
The seminar's featured speaker was retired Command Sgt. Maj. Of the Army Jack Tilley, who served in the U.S. Army's top enlisted position from June 23, 2000, to Jan. 15, 2004. He reminded the enlisted leaders that they are role models, and stressed the importance of their relationship with commanding officers and of their duty to mentor all soldiers.
"Don't just talk about being a good soldier; be a good soldier every day of your life" he said.
The seminar also featured concurrent training sessions. The attendees were divided into small groups to participate in group discussions on "Escalation of Force," "Risk Management" and "Command Sergeant Major Duties and Responsibilities." The discussion on risk management was particularly important to Afghanistan's sergeant major of the army, Safi Roshan.
"There should be many changes because of this," he said while watching the safety videos.
The first day concluded with a presentation and discussion on re-enlistment and promotion policies by Afghan National Army Col. Mohd Amin, who sought input from the enlisted leaders.
Training and taking time to develop relationships were both benefits of the seminar. The ANA's medical command sergeant major, Shaker Noori, said both aspects were of equal value.
"It has been good, because we lack this experience," he said.
Similar seminars will be held twice a year to continue providing opportunities for the ANA and the coalition to network and mentor each other, officials said.
(Navy Petty Officer 1st Class David Votroubek is assigned to Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan Public Affairs.)
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