PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - The annual Senior Enlisted Leaders Training Conference for the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command took place April 1-4 at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.

This year's conference theme was "America's Army -- Decisive Force: Space and Missile Noncommissioned Officers Teaching Our Warriors."

Command Sgt. Maj. Larry S. Turner, the command's highest ranking NCO, kicked off the conference with opening remarks and a command video.

"The purpose of this conference is to provide a forum for us as senior enlisted leaders and senior noncommissioned officers to interact and share our experience, exchange ideas, and discuss lessons learned throughout our careers," said Turner.

"I'm sure each of you will find this conference productive, beneficial, and educational," he said. "I can't stress enough the fact that success depends on you. Your input and expertise are absolutely essential for this conference to be successful.

"This conference gives us an opportunity to address many key issues that impact our mission with our space and missile defense senior enlisted leaders," Turner added. "We wanted to focus our NCOs on not only today, but tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. Our theme this year took us in the direction that the commanding general wants us to focus on -- space and missile defense Soldiers continuing their contribution to the Army's decisive force as we go into the future. I think it is important for us to know the direction the nation and Department of Defense are going in order to work through our future challenges to national security. This give us the chance to consider the impact to what we do and find ways to make things work smoothly."

After Turner's remarks, presenters from various areas of professional development provided overview briefs on topics such as U.S. Strategic Command, Air Force Space Command, U.S. Northern Command, Army Cyber Command, Department of the Army-level promotion boards, career counseling, Warfighters, and media and social networking.

Other highlights of the week included a video presentation from an Army astronaut, Col. Mark Vande Hei, who spoke about his journey as a Soldier and becoming an astronaut and answered questions. Following Vande Hei's remarks, Soldiers had an opportunity to speak with him and get autographed photos.

There also was a discussion panel with former command sergeants major. Sgt. Maj. John Mattie, of the USASMDC/ARSTRAT operations branch, moderated the distinguished panel that included Sgt. Maj. of the Army (retired) Jack Tilley and retired CSMs Ralph Borja, Frank J. Mantia, Tommy Williams, Al Hobbs, and Carl Christian. The retired CSMs provided opening remarks followed by questions from the NCOs in attendance.

Turner said he was very pleased with so many outstanding briefs and the success of the event.

"This year, we brought the conference to where the bulk of our NCOs live and work," he said. "This not only allowed us to bring the cost down by reducing the travel requirement, but it also gave us the opportunity to show key senior enlisted leaders, who we invited to the conference, some of our key capabilities in space and missile defense."