HANOI, Vietnam -- Senior noncommissioned officers and warrant officers from nine countries met in Hanoi, Vietnam, for the 4th Senior Enlisted Leader Forum (SELF IV), hosted by the United States Army Pacific, Aug. 20-23, 2018.
The event is tied in with the annual Pacific Armies Management Seminar that their officer counterparts were participating in concurrently. The theme of the forum was “Cooperation among Indo-Pacific Land Forces in Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Response (HA/DR).” Three plenary topics supported the main theme from a noncommissioned officer perspective: Land Forces Initial Response to HA/DR, Multilateral Cooperation for HA/DR, and Enhancing Roles in Regional Cooperation for HA/DR.
During the SELF, each senior enlisted leader defined military capabilities needed to respond during the initial phases of a disaster and the associated challenges of providing military support to civil authorities. They also highlighted key HA/DR issues that need to be considered, including physical and environmental conditions, displaced and injured persons, food scarcity, and the challenges of security, disease prevention, and sanitation management.
Command Sgt. Maj. Benjamin Jones, CSM, USARPAC, hosted the event and stressed the importance of the forum and the integrated role noncommissioned officers play during HA/DR operations.
“A well-educated and trained NCO will be the key in saving lives on the ground during a natural disaster, and this forum gives us the opportunity to work through HA/DR scenarios with our regional partners to educate and develop the right training that is needed for our NCOs and Soldiers,” said Jones. “This is integral to our enduring commitment to strengthen partnerships to ensure peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.”
Participants included senior enlisted advisors from the Philippines, Fiji, Malaysia, New Zealand, Mongolia, South Korea, Singapore, Tonga, Canada and an observer from the Vietnam People’s Army.
Warrant Officer 1 Joeli Rabuli, Republic of Fiji Military Forces had also attended SELF III in Seoul, Republic of Korea last year and explained the importance of senior enlisted Soldiers during HA/DR operations; “The senior NCO is part of the command team and would give advice and ensure all of the training is done prior to the deployment throughout all phases of HA/DR.”
According to Jones, the purpose of the Senior Enlisted Leader Forum (SELF) is to improve cooperation among Indo-Asian Pacific Land Force in conducting HA/DR operations by focusing on the importance of the enlisted corps of each military that is represented at PAMS.
“This event continues to forge the path toward NCO professional development and towards unity of effort throughout the Pacific,” said Jones.
This is the first year the senior enlisted leaders had the opportunity to brief the PAMS delegates on best practices and the way forward for preparing for HA/DR operations.
The first SELF was held in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2013 and has continued every two years thereafter alongside the Pacific Armies Management Seminar. This is the first year that the forum was held annually with PAMS.
Next year, Thailand will co-host the SELF V, PAMS XLIII, and PACC XI.