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Afghan, NATO Senior Enlisted Leaders Discuss Way Ahead

By Navy Lt. j.g. Egdanis Torres Sierra, Resolute Support Headquarters

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KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 5, 2017 — Operating with purpose, Afghan and Resolute Support sergeants major met here last week to share their experiences and continue improving Afghan security forces.

Afghan Air Force Academy Command Sgt. Maj. Bakhshi Amo and Afghan Ministry of Interior Command Sgt. Maj. Sayd Hasibullah speak at the Warfighter Forum, a quarterly gathering of senior enlisted leaders, to share their experiences and continue improving the Afghan national defense and security forces. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Egdanis Torres Sierra
Afghan Air Force Academy Command Sgt. Maj. Bakhshi Amo and Afghan Ministry of Interior Command Sgt. Maj. Sayd Hasibullah speak at the Warfighter Forum, a quarterly gathering of senior enlisted leaders, to share their experiences and continue improving the Afghan national defense and security forces. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Egdanis Torres Sierra
Afghan Air Force Academy Command Sgt. Maj. Bakhshi Amo and Afghan Ministry of Interior Command Sgt. Maj. Sayd Hasibullah speak at the Warfighter Forum, a quarterly gathering of senior enlisted leaders, to share their experiences and continue improving the Afghan national defense and security forces. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Egdanis Torres Sierra Afghan, NATO senior enlisted leaders discuss way ahead
Afghan Air Force Academy Command Sgt. Maj. Bakhshi Amo and Afghan Ministry of Interior Command Sgt. Maj. Sayd Hasibullah speak at the Warfighter Forum, a quarterly gathering of senior enlisted leaders, to share their experiences and continue improving the Afghan national defense and security forces. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Egdanis Torres Sierra

The quarterly gathering of senior enlisted leaders from around Afghanistan, known as the Warfighter Forum, was their largest meeting in more than a year. The forum helped to solidify the way ahead on the new U.S. South Asia strategy, participants said.

During the forum -- the theme of which was "Operating with Purpose" -- the enlisted leaders shared best practices in building combat capabilities, a discussion that included a range of topics such as operational awareness, personnel accountability, combined firepower, leadership development and training and logistic support.

Army Gen. John W. Nicholson, commander of NATO's Resolute Support mission, attended the forum and highlighted the critical role of experienced senior enlisted leaders. He said they are the catalyst for executing President Ashraf Ghani's vision for improving Afghanistan's national defense and security forces.

Developing Young Talent

Keeping with their theme, the leaders said one way to operate with purpose is to continue helping Afghan leaders to develop their young talent, who will ultimately shape and execute reforms.

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. L. Neil Thurgood, deputy commander for Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan, spoke at the forum and elaborated on the topic of leadership.

"As we bring up a new generation of soldiers, you all are going to be the steady force, the constant force of leadership of your army," Thurgood said. "It is very important … that you have the courage to tell your superiors which officer should stay or be removed. Your responsibility is to shape the leadership of your army."

Silence filled the room when U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. David M. Clark, the Resolute Support command sergeant major, asked the senior noncommissioned officers one question: What are you fighting for?

"We are bringing combat power to fight those who are killing innocent families and stealing the future of your kids. We are charging you to win. This is our window of opportunity to crush the enemy," he said. "Be proud, but not satisfied, and don't forget what you're fighting for."

Sergeant Major Academy

The group welcomed and congratulated the newest graduates of the Afghan National Army Sergeant Major Academy, who earned their promotions after meeting rigorous academic and physical requirements.

Academy training consists of three main areas: leadership; resource management, including logistic planning and accountability; and military operations at the strategic, operational and tactical levels, explained Command Sgt. Maj. Mohibullah Hamdard, the academy's executive officer.

Clark urged the Afghan forces' newest sergeants major to provide leadership daily -- but to lead by example through actions -- and by earning and keeping the trust of their soldiers by truly caring for them.

"You are the strength of the noncommissioned officers corps. You are the strength of the military," he said. "Leadership is about the heart, so continue to have a heart for this mission. Continue to have a heart to endure sacrifice and to commit to the people who need us the most."
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