U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jeremy Unterseher, 435th Air Ground Operations Wing and 435th Air Expeditionary Wing command chief, recently graduated from the Command Senior Enlisted Leaders’ Course at the Baltic Defence College in Tartu, Estonia.
During the three-month course, 15 participants from 11 different NATO countries shared their perspectives, concerns and learned military strategies together.
“Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia have a rich history that lends a lot to our alliance,” Unterseher said. “Learning from them, and with them, offered a tremendous value in the personal relationships it fostered.”
The Baltic nations joined NATO in 2004 and have participated in many joint exercises, which have enhanced allied relationships. These exercises aim to improve interoperability and show a united resolve.
“The national NCO corps within an alliance can be very different, and it can be challenging to build up better cohesion,” said Estonian Army Sgt. Maj. Peeter Einbaum, Baltic Defence College CSELC course director. “Commonly developed education and multinational joint courses are one way to address these objectives. The involvement of U.S. course participants is invaluable, adding a global perspective to all discussions.”
During the course, senior leaders worked together to bolster professional development in a multinational classroom. Classes are limited to a maximum of 20 students to provide a structure that lets students develop and grow together on a personal level.
“We are networked now and we know how to get a hold of each other,” Unterseher said. “We know how to increase or improve our enlisted corps through our relationships, and I think the relationships we made will be maintained forever.”
Participants returned to their units with practical and strategic information that can immediately impact ongoing operations.
“The 435th AGOW’s mission often relies on working with NATO allies and partners,” said Col. Calvin B. Powell, 435th AGOW and 435th AEW vice commander. “Chief Master Sgt. Unterseher’s advice to the 435th AGOW command and other United States Air Forces in Europe senior leaders is better informed from his firsthand experience. Sending one of United States European Command’s top command chiefs to the Baltic Defence College demonstrates the unbreakable resolve and commitment the U.S. has to NATO, and more specifically the Baltic nations.”
Senior enlisted leaders from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Great Britain, Netherlands, France, Canada, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the United States attended the course.
“The way to strengthen an alliance is through trust and common understanding,” Unterseher said. “As others out there see our bonds and see how cohesive and focused we are on each other’s collective defense, they are going to want to join because they see how positive it is. Getting together and learning from each other is only beneficial to improving our alliance.”
The 2020 class was the second iteration of the course and there are more course offerings to come.
“There is increasing interest from other nations to get a seat in the new course,” Einbaum said. “The CSELC delivered by the Baltic Defence College is a format to stay for a number of years as a unique concept addressing the joint education between NATO and partner nations.”