Sergeants major gather for senior enlisted conference
Command Sgt. Maj. Earl L. Rice, the senior enlisted advisor to the United States Forces - Iraq deputy commanding general for operations, speaks to senior noncommissioned officers during a sergeants major conference on Camp Victory, April 7. Senior NCOs gathered for this conference to develop a cohesive view on current operations throughout Iraq, as well as to discuss key points affecting their units.

The United States Forces - Iraq's top senior enlisted advisors gathered for the USF-I Command Sergeants Major Conference held on Camp Victory, April 7, to discuss various topics and challenges that leaders face as U.S. forces continue to prepare for final operations in Iraq.

The conference, hosted by Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph R. Allen, USF-I command sergeant major, and Command Sgt. Maj. Earl L. Rice, the senior enlisted advisor to the USF-I deputy commanding general for operations, encouraged all top noncommissioned officers, from brigade to higher-level headquarters, to develop a joint operating view on the current operations throughout the country.

The conference was not just about the tactical situation for Iraq, it also was about its strategic situation for the Iraqi and U.S. armies. It also served as a medium for better dialogue for the participants.

"They had the opportunity to talk face-to-face to see what works and what doesn't, as well as exchanging ideas," said Allen. "After all, we are all one team."

Key points discussed during the conference included the current U.S. forces' role in Iraq, the importance of leadership, the status of the advise and assist mission with Iraqi counterparts, and the competence of the Iraqi security forces.

Senior NCOs like Chief Master Sgt. Phillip Kristoff, USF-I Joint Intelligence Operations Center senior enlisted advisor, appreciated the chance to participate in the gathering.

"This is an excellent opportunity for all of the senior leaders in Iraq to get together and get on the same sheet of music," said Kristoff. "We're working as a joint force here, so obviously we all need to be involved and need to understand what everyone else is doing to make sure that all of our actions are coordinated to get through all of this together."

Better communication was a running theme for the conference participants.
"We'll be able to get this information out to our subordinate leaders," said Command Sgt. Maj. William Hain, command sergeant major of 2nd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division. "We can make sure that there is no issue with communication and that everybody is tracking the same thing."

Hain said the important topics discussed during the conference can help figure out future plans for withdrawing from Iraq, as well as keeping the service members safe.

Following the conference, a dinner was held with special guest, Lt. Gen. Riyad Jalal Tawfiq Ahmed Al-Qassiri, deputy commander of the Iraqi Ground Forces Command. He spoke to U.S. and Iraqi senior leaders about the importance of U.S. forces assisting the Iraqi army in building their NCO corps.

"I believe that Lt. Gen. Riyad is probably ahead of his time," said Allen. "He is a pioneer for change in the Iraqi army, because he understands the importance of the noncommissioned officer corps. He's got a reputation of being out there with his soldiers, and he is a breed apart from the rest."

"It's all about teamwork and coming together as one," said Rice. "We have to maximize every capability and asset that we have. The good thing about [this] great organization and [its] leaders is that we know how to adapt, overcome, and make missions successful."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16