OSLO, Norway -- For more than a decade, senior enlisted leaders from armies throughout Europe have gathered with their U.S. counterparts at the annual Conference of European Armies for Noncommissioned Officers to share their ideas, lessons learned and best practices to build a stronger NCO Corps.

But 2017's CEANCO, which kicked off May 2, varied a bit from the previous conferences. U. S. Army Europe and its newly partnered co-hosts, the Norwegian Army, changed the dynamics of the topics to focus on the improvement and growth of military personnel throughout the scope of U.S. Army Europe operations.

"This year, more countries and more services participated in the conference," U.S. Army Europe's Command Sgt. Major Sheryl Lyon said. "We also had representatives from the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy. Each entity presented throughout the conference and provided a different perspective of the U.S. Army mission."

As a newer, younger country coming into the conference, it was a great opportunity to show our partners the benefits Norway has as a smaller nation, said Sgt. Major of the Norwegian Army Rune Wennesberg. The Norwegian Army brings a unique capability to the table, he added, so being able to network and come together with your peers in a forum like this helps greatly.

U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe, Africa's Sgt. Maj. William Frye felt the same about his attendance at the conference.

"Everyone in the conference is land based," said Frye. "So, I was able to bring to the table the amphibious leader's aspect of it. Unfortunately, no one really thinks about the maritime issues that we could potentially face…but I think having the Marine Corps here allowed everyone to view a different perspective and how we best close that gap between the sea and land forces."

During the three-day conference, attendees discussed topics such as Building Relationships, Leader Professional Development, Combined Training Capabilities, Women Integration and International Opportunities. All topics focused on the conferences' theme 'NCO: Leaders in Action which is tied to the U.S. Army Europe's 'Year of Execution' theme.

"The two themes are tied because we have NCOs who make things happens," Lyon said. "So, the year of execution requires that our leaders be engaged in leading the way so that they are leaders in action."

Earlier this years, U.S. Army Europe declared 2017 the "Year of Execution" to further implement the strategic decisions of nations to transfer the NATO Alliance from assurance to deterrence.

Although many senior leaders wore different uniforms, and spoke many different languages, their goal was the same: improve their NCO corps.

"NCO development is the backbone of everyone here's military," Frye said. "We all believe that if you can fight at the fire team squad and platoon level, you can win battles and you can win wars. Those battles will be won on the backs of our NCOs."

Photos from the this years Conference of European Armies for NCOs can be found on the U.S. Army's FLICKR page at https://www.flickr.com/gp/usarmyeurope_images/7Hy83K

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U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned in its 51-country area of responsibility to advance American strategic interests in Europe and Eurasia. The relationships we build during more than 1,000 theater security cooperation events in more than 40 countries each year lead directly to support for multinational contingency operations around the world, strengthen regional partnerships and enhance global security.