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News | April 29, 2022

4th Fleet Helps Promote Enlisted Leader Development to Partner Nations

By U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet is making strides with their ongoing initiative of enlisted leader development (ELD) to partner nations in the 4th Fleet area of responsibility.

Leading the charge is 4th Fleet’s Command Master Chief Robert Florentino. He and other command leaders have partnered with nations in the Caribbean, Central and South America regions to assess, formulate, and train on the integration of enlisted service members into key leadership roles, ushering in a new era of enlisted leaders working alongside top officers.

Enlisted service members have been the backbone of the U.S. armed forces since its inception. They are technical experts and advisors to their commanders, providing them valuable insight to help make key decisions downrange. Today, enlisted service members play an even more critical role in the operational effectiveness of the armed forces as they take on more responsibilities and tackle the complexities of a changing battlespace and society.

“I am excited for what lies ahead for our partner nation’s enlisted leaders,” said Florentino. “Never has there been a better time than now for 4th Fleet to help incorporate the best and brightest enlisted service members to lead and help shape the future of partner nation maritime forces.”

The effort is aligned with U.S. Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) Enlisted Leader Professional Development (ELPD) program. SOUTHCOM’s priorities through ELPD aim to help professionalize the noncommissioned officer (NCO) corps in partner nations by sharing experiences, best practices and lessons learned. With the support of U.S. combatant commands, many nations have embraced ELD programs.

Florentino explains that ELD is not a new concept, it has been around for quite some time.  

Currently, ELD efforts have been seen during engagements at 4th Fleet’s maritime staff talks (MSTs) as well as trips to the region for exercises and key leader engagements. During these, Florentino briefs partner nation leadership on the benefits of ELD.

“The goals are to establish a relationship with our partner nations, learn from each other, and establish a program where we can have enlisted leader development across the fleet both abroad as well as in the United States,” said Florentino.

The initiative will be conducted in phases. The first is the assessment phase, in which 4th Fleet leadership will travel to a country to better understand partner nation current ELD status, and help them create a tailored plan. Subsequent phases will consist of actions to better integrate enlisted leaders.

One aspect of the program for 4th Fleet involves setting up leadership subject matter expert exchanges (SMEE) in partner nations that are aligned with SOUTHCOM’s overarching ELPD goals. Leadership SMEEs will be structured similar to courses in the U.S. Navy, which consist of training junior and senior enlisted personnel.

Through consistent and relevant engagement, 4th Fleet aims to enhance and build enlisted leaders in maritime forces to be the best they can be, which will further strengthen regional partner relationships and allow forces to better work together to strategically solve problems.

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command’s joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American region.

Learn more about USNAVSO/4th Fleet at and @NAVSOUS4THFLT.

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