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International enlisted leaders focus on ‘Building an Airman’

Group is briefed on VC-135E.

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass, right, is briefed on the static VC-135E aircraft which is used as an active training device for flight attendants at the Career Enlisted Aviator Center of Excellence, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, Aug. 12, 2021. Bass was touring the Center of Excellence along with other attendees of the Senior Enlisted Leader International Summit, held Aug. 9-13 in San Antonio. It brought together approximately 120 top enlisted leaders from the U.S. and over 40 partner nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Agnes Koterba)

Translators in booth

Translators in several languages were set up for the Senior Enlisted Leader International Summit held in San Antonio Aug. 9-13, 2021. Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass and the Inter-American Air Forces Academy co-hosted the event, which brought together approximately 120 top enlisted leaders from the U.S. and over 40 partner nations. The summit is normally held bi-annually for international senior enlisted counterparts to the chief master sergeant of the Air Force to meet and discuss issues affecting the international community of enlisted Airmen and to further build counterpart relationships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Annette Crawford)

SELIS attendees take photos of themselves

Attendees of the Senior Enlisted Leader International Summit take photos during a conference break in San Antonio Aug. 9, 2021. Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass and the Inter-American Air Forces Academy co-hosted the event, which brought together approximately 120 top enlisted leaders from the U.S. and over 40 partner nations. The summit is normally held bi-annually for international senior enlisted counterparts to the chief master sergeant of the Air Force to meet and discuss issues affecting the international community of enlisted Airmen and to further build counterpart relationships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Annette Crawford)

People sitting at tables, some with headphones on.

Attendees of the Senior Enlisted Leader International Summit listen to a presentation by Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass in San Antonio Aug. 9, 2021. Translators in several languages were set up in the back of the room to assist attendees. Bass and the Inter-American Air Forces Academy co-hosted the event, which brought together approximately 120 top enlisted leaders from the U.S. and over 40 partner nations. The summit is normally held bi-annually for international senior enlisted counterparts to the chief master sergeant of the Air Force to meet and discuss issues affecting the international community of enlisted Airmen and to further build counterpart relationships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Annette Crawford)

Two SELIS attendees talk.

Attendees of the Senior Enlisted Leader International Summit talk during a conference break in San Antonio Aug. 9, 2021. Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass and the Inter-American Air Forces Academy co-hosted the event, which brought together approximately 120 top enlisted leaders from the U.S. and over 40 partner nations. The summit is normally held bi-annually for international senior enlisted counterparts to the chief master sergeant of the Air Force to meet and discuss issues affecting the international community of enlisted Airmen and to further build counterpart relationships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Annette Crawford)

CMSAF Bass in front of room

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass gives opening remarks at the Senior Enlisted Leader International Summit in San Antonio, Aug. 9, 2021. She co-hosted the event with the Inter-American Air Forces Academy, and it brought together approximately 120 top enlisted leaders from the U.S. and over 40 partner nations. The summit is normally held bi-annually for international senior enlisted counterparts to the chief master sergeant of the Air Force to meet and discuss issues affecting the international community of enlisted Airmen and to further build counterpart relationships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Annette Crawford)

2 international enlisted leaders speak with an Air Force NCO.

Approximately 120 top enlisted leaders from the U.S. and 44 partner nations met in San Antonio Aug. 9-13, 2021, for the Senior Enlisted Leader International Summit. The event is normally held bi-annually for international senior enlisted counterparts to the chief master sergeant of the Air Force to discuss issues affecting the international community of enlisted Airmen and to further build relationships. It was co-hosted by Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass and the Inter-American Air Forces Academy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Annette Crawford)

SELIS attendees gather at a table.

Attendees of the Senior Enlisted Leader International Summit network during a break at the conference, held Aug. 9-13, 2021, in San Antonio. The week-long event is normally held bi-annually for international senior enlisted counterparts to the chief master sergeant of the Air Force to discuss issues affecting the international community of enlisted Airmen and to further build relationships. Approximately 120 top enlisted leaders from the U.S. and 44 partner nations attended the summit, which was co-hosted by Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass and the Inter-American Air Forces Academy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Annette Crawford)

Group photo of MTIs and SELIS attendees

Attendees of the Senior Enlisted Leader International Summit pose for a photo with basic military training instructors from the 737th Training Group at the Pfingston Reception Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, Aug. 12, 2021. SELIS, co-hosted by Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass and the Inter-American Air Forces Academy, brought together approximately 120 top enlisted leaders from the U.S. and over 40 partner nations. The summit is normally held bi-annually for international senior enlisted counterparts to the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force to meet and discuss issues affecting the international community of enlisted Airmen and to further build counterpart relationships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Thomas Coney)

CMSAF Bass speaks to trainees
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Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass addresses basic military trainees in an impromptu speech, Aug. 12, 2021, at the Pfingston Reception Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. Bass’ visit was part of the Senior Enlisted Leader International Summit, which she co-hosted with the Inter-American Air Forces Academy. The event brought together approximately 120 top enlisted leaders from the U.S. and over 40 partner nations. The summit is normally held bi-annually for international senior enlisted counterparts to the chief master sergeant of the Air Force to meet and discuss issues affecting the international community of enlisted Airmen and to further build counterpart relationships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Thomas Coney)

SELIS attendees tour IAAFA
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Attendees of the Senior Enlisted Leader International Summit tour the Inter-American Air Forces Academy at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, Aug. 12, 2021. SELIS, co-hosted by Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass and IAAFA, brought together approximately 120 top enlisted leaders from the U.S. and over 40 partner nations. The summit is normally held bi-annually for international senior enlisted counterparts to the chief master sergeant of the Air Force to meet and discuss issues affecting the international community of enlisted Airmen and to further build counterpart relationships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Thomas Coney)

People standing by helicopter in hangar
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Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass admires a patch presented to her at the Career Enlisted Aviator Center of Excellence, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, Aug. 12, 2021. Bass was touring the 37th Training Group along with other attendees of the Senior Enlisted Leader International Summit, held Aug. 9-13 in San Antonio. It brought together approximately 120 top enlisted leaders from the U.S. and over 40 partner nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Agnes Koterba)

SELIS group gets tour at IAAFA
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Staff Sgt. Julia Reyna, an aircraft structure maintenance instructor at the 318th Training Squadron, briefs Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass and attendees of the Senior Enlisted Leader International Summit at the Inter-American Air Forces Academy, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, Aug. 12, 2021. SELIS, co-hosted by Bass and IAAFA, brought together approximately 120 top enlisted leaders from the U.S. and over 40 partner nations. The summit is normally held bi-annually for international senior enlisted counterparts to the chief master sergeant of the Air Force to meet and discuss issues affecting the international community of enlisted Airmen and to further build counterpart relationships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Thomas Coney)

2 SELIS attendees operator a simulator
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Attendees of the Senior Enlisted Leader International Summit operate an Aircraft Control Simulator at the Inter-American Air Forces Academy at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, Aug. 12, 2021. SELIS, co-hosted by Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass and IAAFA, brought together approximately 120 top enlisted leaders from the U.S. and over 40 partner nations. The summit is normally held bi-annually for international senior enlisted counterparts to the chief master sergeant of the Air Force to meet and discuss issues affecting the international community of enlisted Airmen and to further build counterpart relationships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Thomas Coney)

NCO addresses group of SELIS attendees outside of DLIELC
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Master Sgt. Julia Barboza, Defense Language Institute English Language Center, addresses attendees of the Senior Enlisted Leader International Summit during their walkabout of DLIELC’s main campus at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, Aug. 11, 2021. SELIS, co-hosted by Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass and IAAFA, brought together approximately 120 top enlisted leaders from the U.S. and over 40 partner nations. The summit is normally held bi-annually for international senior enlisted counterparts to the chief master sergeant of the Air Force to meet and discuss issues affecting the international community of enlisted Airmen and to further build counterpart relationships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Spencer Berry)

Col Wilson speaks with CMSAF Bass
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Col. Rockie K. Wilson, 37th Training Wing commander, speaks with Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass at the Defense Language Institute English Language Center auditorium, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, Aug. 11, 2021. Bass was with other attendees of the Senior Enlisted Leader International Summit, which she co-hosted with the Inter-American Air Forces Academy Aug. 9-13 in San Antonio. The event brought together approximately 120 top enlisted leaders from the U.S. and over 40 partner nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Spencer Berry)

SAN ANTONIO – A sea of multi-colored military uniforms and the sounds of several languages were the backdrop for the Senior Enlisted Leader International Summit, held here Aug. 9-13.

SELIS, co-hosted by Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass and the Inter-American Air Forces Academy, brought together approximately 120 top enlisted leaders from the U.S. and 44 partner nations. The summit is normally held bi-annually for international senior enlisted counterparts to the chief master sergeant of the Air Force to discuss issues affecting the international community of enlisted Airmen and to further build relationships. It was last held at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, in 2018.

This year’s theme was “Building an Airman.” Bass kicked off the conference expressing her enthusiasm for the gathering.

“In this room today we have 44 nations represented – 44 nations of friends, of partners, that all work hard at making our world a better place,” Bass said. “It’s our honor and privilege to spend this week with you talking about how we develop our United States Airmen ... you’re here on purpose in San Antonio, because this is where everything starts for the United States Air Force enlisted corps. Every single one of our enlisted Airmen comes here – to Military City USA.”

Bass, who marked one year as chief master sergeant of the Air Force Aug. 14, said that she’s been focused on three things since then.

“I’ve been focused on our people, on readiness, and the culture of the United States Air Force. Our Air Force is very different from when I joined it over 28 years ago,” Bass said, noting that the Air Force is almost half the size now than it was when she joined.

“If we’re half the size that we were, every single United States Airman counts, and that’s why we pay a whole lot of attention at making sure that we have a culture that our Airmen are thriving in and able to be their very best,” she added.

Attendees learned about topics relevant to the summit’s theme, including Enlisted Force Development and Professional Military Education. The group also had the opportunity to get viewpoints from several partner nations. Guest speakers included Kelli L. Seybolt, Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs, who offered her strategic perspective for the group.

“The enlisted corps is the driving force behind deepening ties with our allies and partners,” Seybolt said. “Enlisted Airmen and Guardians are the innovators who work side-by-side with partner nations to enable mission execution and strengthen our collective deterrence and defense.”

Attendees got a firsthand look at the mission of the 37th Training Wing, headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, when they visited various elements of its four groups – the 737th Training Group, 37th Training Group, Defense Language Institute English Language Center, and IAAFA. They also traveled to JBSA-Randolph where they toured the 558th Flying Training Squadron.

“I work at NATO headquarters. I’ve worked there the past four years in a European bubble and didn’t realize how far our national partnership expands. As an enlisted person, it’s confirmation that enlisted development is just as important. NCOs are the backbone of the corps,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Theda Shaw, Support, NATO HQ AIRCom PME Lead.

Some of the locations the group was able to visit while at JBSA-Lackland included the Aviation Language Training Center at DLIELC, the Career Enlisted Aviator Center of Excellence at the 344th Training Squadron, Airfield Training Complex at IAAFA, and the Pfingston Reception Center, the site where all enlisted Airmen begin their Air Force careers.

SSWO Tomasz Bieniara, Poland’s Command Senior Enlisted Leader, said the conference provided “insights, contacts, and a visit at a school with a different system of learning.”

WO1 Seboloko Mosimanyana, the Major Command Sergeant Major from Botswana, added that the U.S. Air Force is “more educated in the way you use computers and simulators … that really interested me. The conference is good because we share ideas and learn from others because we are from different regions.”

In an interview later in the week, Bass said she had been looking forward to SELIS and the opportunities it offered.

“I looked forward to connecting with all of these leaders, to be able to crosstalk and to share the goals that we have, to be able to also talk about the challenges and compare the different unique ways in which we tackle those challenges,” she said, adding that those “relationships and connections can last a lifetime.”

While only the top enlisted leaders were able to attend SELIS, Bass said that all Airmen, no matter their rank or position, could make a difference in nurturing partnerships.

“I want them to think about how each of them are ambassadors of our United States Air Force,” Bass said. “Being an ambassador means that they represent our nation, they represent our Air Force, and that no matter where they are, they have an opportunity to connect with other people, whether it be from other services or from other partner nations.”