By Sgt. Jeremy OdomJuly 20, 2017
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- The U.S. Army drill sergeant is well known among both Soldiers and civilians alike. Drill sergeants are not only responsible for guiding recruits through basic training, but also for turning them into warriors and defenders of America's freedom.
Almost two dozen sergeants major from the Colombian Sergeant Major Academy, Programa Integral para Suboficiales de Alta JerarquiaI (PISJA), got to meet and train alongside these prestigious sergeants during a recent visit to the drill sergeant training academy at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
The class's primary mission for the trip was to increase their knowledge on topics such as noncommissioned officer professional development, gender integration in senior leadership positions, human rights, and joint military integration.
U.S. Army South served as the host for the group and kept a busy schedule for the Colombian troops while at Fort Jackson, participating alongside them in exercises during academy training blocks.
"We are continuing to build stronger relationships with other countries by doing these type of events. These exchanges provide the opportunity for those countries to take advantage of resources we have here in the U.S.," said Sgt. Maj. Vaughn Overton, Regional Affairs Directorate Sergeant Major and primary organizer for the event. "This is a great opportunity for our partners to network with not only each other, but with the Army South team here as well."
One Army South Soldier, Sgt. Maj. Miguel Espinoza, civil affairs directorate sergeant major, has participated in five of the seven Colombian PISJA visits.
"We have had nothing but cooperation from the drill sergeant academy here. The drill sergeant instructors have been professional and are proud of what they are doing," said Espinoza.
Other countries are still working on integrating females into specific roles in the military, and the academy provided a setting for the Colombians to see how integration successfully works.
"The academy was more than happy to help communicate the importance of integrating female instructors in the academy," said Espinoza. "It impressed the Colombians so much that they want to take that back and share it with their army."
Warrant Officer Class One Anthony Lysight, force sergeant major of the Jamaican Defence Force, also attended the exchange as an observer in order to gain further insight on the discussed imperatives, particularly noncommissioned officer development.
"We want to expose our senior enlisted soldiers to what other militaries are doing," said Lysight. "I wanted to see what other opportunities are out there and what technological advances there are that we can use in our course."
The next visit, PISJA 8, will occur later this fall.
"I have worked with the Colombian army on and off since 2004 and I have seen significant change in their positive development," said Espinoza. "Every time they come here, they soak in the information and use it to progress and become a better force. We are proud to call them one of our closer partners."