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    US Senior Enlisted Leaders Help Afghan Allies boost Sergeant Majors

    By Lt. j.g. Egdanis Torres Sierra, Combined Security Transition Command, Afghanistan (CSTC–A) Public Affairs

    KABUL, Afghanistan - Command Sgt. Maj. David M. Clark, senior enlisted leader for NATO's Resolute Support, and U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. (Retired) Frank A. Grippe delivered powerful words of motivation for their Afghan counterparts Saturday at the Kabul Military Training Center as the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) took a historic step towards building a leadership structure for its senior enlisted personnel.

    Sgt. Maj. Clark instead on relying on notes in lieu of preparation for his speech he decided to speak from the heart.

    “I could not sleep last night thinking of today and of all of the soldiers that I have lost. We have fought and slept in the dirt for you. Some or our soldiers have made the ultimate sacrifice for you. Now, your soldiers will have to fight in the dirt as we did,” said Clark during his opening remarks. “You have come a long way but going forward. No more excuses. If you fail on this mission the responsibility is yours.”

    This is the first time that all branches of the ANDSF have come together in a symposium forum at a senior Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO) level. Clark categorized the event as a landmark and progressive phase in their final stages of transition to a stronger military force taking the NCOs to a professional level across all branches of the military and police force.

    Afghan Chief of Army, General Qadam Shah “Shahim” was also present during the conference and he echoed the words of the command sergeant major as he described the Afghan Army as a reliable one for the people in Afghanistan.

    “The situation of Afghanistan belongs to you [Sgt. Maj.]. The defense of Afghanistan belongs to you [Sgt. Maj.]. The people of Afghanistan trust us that we will protect them. We are responsible for any child or person wounded or killed, the health of our soldiers and their families is our responsibility,” said Shah. You are the closest we have to our soldiers and you have a great responsibility and a difficult task to lead hundreds of soldiers as we expand against the enemy to drive Afghanistan to prosperity and a successful future.”

    Sunday, represented the second day of this three-day joint senior enlisted conference with unprecedented events. The Afghan military welcomed a new command sergeant major, a new female first sergeant and saw its previous command sergeant major transition after ten years of service to an influential position in President Ashraf Ghani’s team as senior analyst adviser to the Security Council.

    “We are taking ownership and we are celebrating the fact that we are in charge of the security of our country. We are changing the experience level, our strengths, working in our weaknesses and preparing our soldiers,” said Sgt. Maj. Roshan Safi. “When I began my duties as the command sergeant major we had only five NCOs. Today, we have more than 150 NCOs empowered and ready to do their job.”
    Newly appointed Command Sgt. Maj. Habibullah Chamkani, made a commitment to his fellow leaders to listen to their concerns, come up with solutions and to work as one force and one team.

    “We are going to train to defeat the enemy,” he said. “I understand that with training the level of commitment will increase because you will feel more prepared. Training will be my first priority.”

    The moves represented the culmination of a long-term, systemic buildup of the ANDSF’s senior enlisted leadership structure, guided by advisors from the U.S. military, which has a long history of empowering senior enlisted personnel to set professional standards and mentor younger soldiers.

    “It is imperative for a sergeant major to always set and enforce the standards and lead by example. The combined efforts of the entire ANDSF working together will be the engine that will ensure a safe, secure and sustainable Afghanistan,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Clemens, Deputy Chief of Staff Security Assistance/Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan.

    He also used the occasion to reiterate the international community’s commitment to the long-term success of Afghanistan and its military. Joining him at the conference were the senior enlisted leaders from the different Train Advise Assist Commands in Afghanistan who have been working tirelessly as main advisers towards building a NCO leadership structure for the ANDSF.

    The conference also brought U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. (Retired) Frank A. Grippe as a speaker who was deployed in 2003 to Afghanistan as the battalion command sergeant major of Combined Joint Task Force Warrior. He brought with him more than 30 years of experience and commended the Afghan military officials in attendance for embracing senior enlisted personnel as leaders in their ranks. He urged the sergeant majors to own their responsibility and their sacred insignia, as they are now the ones responsible for the future of their nation.

    “When you say the word sergeant major it means that you are the fighters of this nation, the experienced NCOs that bring together senior officers and youngsters,” he said. “You are more than a combat leader. You have a mentoring effect in your soldiers. The Afghan people are trusting their sons and daughters in your hands for you all to teach them how to be excellent in the battlefield and exemplary citizens.”

    Sgt. Maj. Roshan Safi reflected on how the US has been instrumental for the future of Afghanistan.

    “Bringing us from zero to heroes, that was not easy,” reiterated Sgt. Maj. Roshan Safi. “There was no NCO force in Afghanistan. It was created with the help of the U.S. They helped us do that at a high cost. We have lost many friends; mothers have lost their sons, sons have lost their mothers. We could have never done it without the help from the U.S. and the coalition. They brought the education, the training and the support. The word thank you is not enough.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 11.28.2016
    Date Posted: 12.03.2016 03:54
    Story ID: 216222
    Location: AF

    Web Views: 206
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    US Senior Enlisted Leaders Help Afghan Allies boost Sergeant Majors