VICENZA, Italy -- The development of enlisted leadership is a priority the U.S. military shares with armed forces across the continent of Africa. According to U.S. Army Africa Command Sgt. Maj. Jeremiah E. Inman, there are more than 140 military education institutions across the African continent that provide a combination of professional development opportunities offered to officers, warrant officers and noncommissioned officers.The opportunities to teach and learn alongside our African partners at these learning centers provides a platform to enhance our relationships as well as the professional development of our leaders. This topic will be discussed in depth at the upcoming Association of the United States Army annual conference, Tuesday Oct. 9, 4:10-4:50 p.m. Eastern time.The emergence of these training opportunities during recent years has led to a more adaptable Army. Soldiers are now able to be personally involved in the partnerships between our African partners and are able leave a large, positive impact on future operations and the furthering of relationships between countries.The Malawi Defense Force Sergeants Major Course, located at the Malawi Armed Forces College, Malawi, Africa, is a prime example of the emerging military education institutions gaining prominence in Africa. The Malawi institution is based on the construct currently in place at the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence at Fort Bliss, Texas. The Malawian academy's first offered course was in 2014 and to date has produced over 240 African sergeants major, both male and female, from 18 African countries. A recently graduated class in July 2018 had a total of 45 graduates from Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Eighteen of the students were international, and six were female.Academies like the one in Malawi and continual information exchanges between U.S. Army Africa and partner nations are a key component of our relationship building efforts on the African continent. They offer a viable venue to mold our relationships with the exchange of knowledge, tactics, techniques and procedures. An important by-product of this is the increasing of our own Soldiers' readiness -- making the U.S. Army an even more capable, lethal force for our future fights."I have hopes to add additional courses each year due to the increased interest and specific requests for additional slots from international partners because of the impact the course is making across the continent," said Malawi Armed Forces College Commandant Brig. Gen. Mchunglua. "More guests attend the Malawian SMC graduation than any other course MAFCO offers."This course shines light on the bond of our African partners and their ability to strengthen our relationships through leadership, teamwork, training, education and professional development. The Malawi Defense Force Sergeants Major Course has a combination of instructors from U.S. Army Africa and partner nation senior NCOs, and is one of the premiere professional military education institutions on the continent of Africa.The primary goals of the course are to develop competence in communication, critical thinking, creative thinking, and decision-making skills, with a commitment to enhancing each NCO's lifelong learning. The combination of having U.S. Army Africa instructors and partner nation senior NCOs teaching the curriculum together continually presents an opportunity to positively strengthen our security relationships for mutual benefit.Many of the graduates mentioned they intend to share their experience and knowledge with the soldiers within their respective command as soon as they return."One of the Nigerian students said he had four key courses he was going to teach as soon as he returned back to his country and would also try to add similar instruction to their warrant officer academy," said U.S. Army Africa Command Sgt. Maj. Jeremiah Inman.Similar to the U.S. Army Advanced Leadership Course and Senior Leadership Course, the Malawi Defense Force is looking to develop junior and senior NCO courses to bridge the gap between those levels of leadership. Our African partners continue to express the need and desire to further their education and professional development alongside U.S. Army Africa. There is a high demand for these courses and they intend to increase the availability from two to four classes a year. In addition, they plan to keep a strong relationship with the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Course for content development, and to include U.S. certified instructors in the courses to make sure they stay up to date."The Malawian Defense Force is not large, but has embraced the corps of the noncommissioned officer," said Inman.U.S. Army Africa operations are combined operations -- all of our actions are conducted by and with our African partners. Army training and operations in Africa offer an ability to develop cultural awareness in our NCO/enlisted corps by affording the opportunity to work with a variety of nations not normally encountered by U.S. Army Soldiers. Training with joint, interagency, intergovernmental, and multinational partners, and overcoming the austere terrain and distances of Africa, prepares Army leaders and units to succeed in future coalition operations. It strengthens partner nation defense institutions, advances security capacity and supports U.S. Africa Command objectives through a range of activities that focus on security cooperation, support to named operations and enhancing our posture and presence in the African theater.U.S. Army Africa's operations, in support of U.S. Africa Command, are generally characterized by small units working in austere, remote environments, placing a premium on enlisted leadership. As such, these training events are a great means to provide leadership opportunities for U.S. Army NCOs and junior enlisted -- where they will routinely encounter leadership challenges "far away from the flagpole," enabling them to develop initiative and decision making skills in a complex environment.