FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Leaders throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility came together for a Non-commissioned Officer Professional Development Symposium from Aug.1 to Aug. 4, 2016 at Fort Benning, Georgia.U.S. Army Central hosted the symposium to conduct a theater cooperation information exchange with partner nations to walk through the U.S. Soldier and non-commissioned officer development model in order to foster regional dialogue, interoperability and professionalization of non-commissioned officers.The U.S. ARCENT theater cooperation initiative addresses the changing strategic environment as well as providing combatant commanders a force that will bring additional capability, capacity, and continuity to their programs and non-commissioned officers."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 (STEP) 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 were given 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 non-commissioned officer.The group also received a tour of Fort Benning to see the different leadership courses given to non-commissioned officers. Leaders were also afforded the opportunity ask questions and witness 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.Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/1stTheaterSustainmentCommand