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NEWS | July 19, 2023

The Europe and Africa Senior Enlisted Leadership Symposium 2023 concludes in Rota, Spain

By Cyber Warfare Technician Senior Chief Hyatt Abdelghani, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa / U.S. Sixth Fleet

The Europe and Africa Senior Enlisted Leadership Symposium (EASELS), a three-day conference hosting military senior enlisted leaders (SEL) and national delegates from twenty-five nations, successfully concluded on July 14, 2023 in Rota, Spain.

The SELs and delegates arrived in Rota to participate in an enriching exchange of ideas and experiences. The conference drew 50 senior enlisted leaders, including nine Master Chief Petty Officers from their respective navies, United States European Command’s Command Senior Enlisted Leader, and two U.S. Fleet Master Chiefs.

Centering on the theme "Security and Stability through Trust and Confidence," the symposium aimed to foster reciprocal understanding between nations’ Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO) while exchanging methods of building trust within their countries.

Master Chief Petty Officer (MCPON) of the Royal Navy Morten Christensen highlighted the essence of trust, saying, "Trust is gained in millimeters, but lost in meters," underscoring the challenging nature and delicate task of building and maintaining trust.

Throughout the symposium, speakers and leadership experts engaged in thought-provoking discussions and interactive sessions, focusing on strategies and techniques to cultivate trust, instill confidence, and foster respect within teams. They also discussed how to develop trust across national boundaries, and how that trust increases operational effectiveness in combined forces.

During his address to an audience that included two Senior NCOs from the Ukrainian Navy, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa Fleet Master Chief Johannes Gonzalez underscored the profound significance of relationships, trust, confidence, and respect. He reminisced about a pivotal moment during Exercise Sea Breeze 2021, when the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) anchored in Odesa, hosting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. "It was on this occasion," Gonzalez reflected, "that I had the privilege to form a lifelong friendship with MCPON Pavlo Ruchka."

EASELS 2023 aspires to inspire attendees to prioritize trust, confidence, and respect within their teams. By fostering these core values, senior enlisted leaders can help create a more unified and harmonious society, laying the foundation for a peaceful tomorrow.

Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates U.S. naval forces in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) areas of responsibility. U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.