Leaders throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility came together for a Non-commissioned Officer Professional Development Symposium from Aug. 1 to 4, at Fort Benning, Georgia.

U.S. Army Central hosted the symposium to conduct a theater cooperation information exchange with partner nations. The symposium allowed a walk through of the U.S. Soldier and NCO development model to foster regional dialogue, interoperability and professionalism of NCOs.

The U.S. ARCENT theater cooperation initiative addresses the changing strategic environment and provides combatant commanders a force that will bring additional capability, capacity and continuity to their programs and NCOs.

“The Army non-commissioned officer is the backbone and the driving force in completing the Army’s mission,” said Sgt. 1st Class James Copeland, materiel manager, 1st Sustainment Command (Theater). “The NCO does this through mentorship, individual training and the select, train, educate, promote initiative.”

The STEP program was developed in response for the Army to provide appropriate training, education and experience to prepare NCOs to fight and win in a complex world as adaptive and agile leaders and trusted professionals for Force 2025.

Command Sgt. Maj. Edward Bell, 1st TSC, has worked closely with some of the partner nations that attended the week-long symposium.

“Introducing and educating our partner nations on how we recruit, train and build NCOs through the institutional domain is huge,” said Bell. “The empowerment and trust invested in the NCO Corps by the commander on ground is absolutely vital in planning, executing and succeeding throughout the U.S. ARCENT area of responsibility.”

Leaders received presentations by subject matter experts from the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence and other Fort Benning institutional programs such as the Airborne School and Basic Leaders Course. The SMEs discussed the roles, responsibilities, training and development of the NCO.

The group also received a tour of Fort Benning to see the different leadership courses offered to NCOs.

Leaders also asked questions and witnessed live training in basic leaders and advanced leaders courses.

“This symposium has inspired our partner nations to continue to cultivate a leader development model that increases their readiness through investing in a more agile and adaptive NCO Corps,” said Bell.